Pomelo tree: my passion

Pomelo  This is the most beautiful tree that you can grow in southern Portugal. It is a big tree with large leaves like avocado leaves,...

Pomelo 

This is the most beautiful tree that you can grow in southern Portugal. It is a big tree with large leaves like avocado leaves, in spring the big blossoms grow in fragrant bouquets. They produce huge beautiful fruit from September to March and some varieties are absolutely excellent. It is an evergreen thats child-friendly without thorns: the pomelo tree (Citrus maxima grandis ex c.).

Paradox and ignorance
Pomelos (pumelo or shaddock) are fruit commonly eaten in Asia, where they are more widely grown than oranges. Although they originated in the tropics (Malaysia / Indonesia) they grow well in the south of Portugal with the same hardiness as lemon trees. However, except for some curious collectors, they have never been cultivated in the West. Since the origin of my sources it is believed and repeated that it is a bitter and sour fruit, which is a caricature. It depends, as always, on the variety. Ibn Al Awwam (Seville XIIth century) quotes Abu'l Khayr (early XIIéme) "eat the inside and the outside, it is of great acidity" Pomelos were then called زنبوع zanbū zamboa, a term close to the Malay jambua which leads to Cimboa which is the name it is known by in Brazil today, and the correct word to use in Portuguese. In Japan the "Zabon, zanboa ..." is a big pomelo with bitter fruit that is reserved for the ancestral altar.

The Dutch when they encountered this fruit in Asia in the mid XVII century had never heard of the Zamboa, even though it was still being grown in Spain. They named it "pompelmoes" POMPEL = "big" + Limões "lemon", which gives "pamplemousse" in French and "Pummelo and pomelo" in English, "pampaleone" in Italy ... pampa limāsu in India.

The Portuguese term "Toranja" refers to grapefruits (Citrus x paradisi), hybrids of bitter orange (Citrus x aurantium ), a hybrid born in the Caribbean that was successful in Florida, a smaller, juicy fruit with a tendency to be sour while pomelos are big, with a crunchy texture, little juice and tendency towards bitterness.

Pomelo trees are easy to grow, they need to be pruned to increase air circulation. The adult tree grows to at least 8 m. The most beautiful thing you can do in your garden is an alignment of pomelo trees. I have identified 35 varieties of pomelos only in Europe counting close hybrids and Japanese Buntans . It is prohibited to import citrus plants or seeds to Europe. Don't do it. Pomelo trees grow in areas infected by citrus greening. I have 31 varieties in my garden in Alentejo some grown from seed from when it was still possible. It is the only European collection of pomelos and it is worth it! The best nursery to buy pomelos is Oscar Tintori they can be imported to Portugal by brunopedroso@mail.telepac.pt http://www.oscartintori.it/elencodellevarieta.php They have 14 varieties, all interesting.

Recommended varieties

The more decorative (very large fruit but not very good) are: pear-shaped and pink pear-shaped, spectacular. For large flat fruit (really pretty) choose "a frutto rosa".

The best tasting are « Kao Pan », « Chandler » and the best of all "Hirado Buntan". A must : a well balanced fruit, sweet, sour and bitter an ideal mix, a crisp and juicy texture, the best citrus fruit (this is also the opinion of Monica Moran Brandies father 1 ), with a harvest in late January. Note that Hirado is not the favorite in Japan where "Crystal" is the object of general admiration while the most common is the « Tosa Buntan ». « Kawachi Bankan » provides fruit late in the season and « Sunka » is a variety eaten after staying 1 ½ years on the tree - over-ripe almost jelly-like inside.

The Portuguese chef Leonardo Pereira (Restaurante - Areias do Seixo near Torres Vedras) is incredibly creative in serving the « Sarawak » with cabbage and cod eggs. The « Sarawak » or « Tahiti Green » is very productive, only the pulp remains green in our climate - harvest in February. The « Sarawak » ("flavor of melon or lime") is the king of the Polynesian crab and avocado salad.

« Honey » is the Chinese pomelo that has been imported to Europe via Holland for the last ten years, is the one you find in supermarkets at the beginning of the season. It has little taste and does nothing for the pomelos reputation.

All these beautiful trees covered with their enormous fruit grow here, in my garden. We protect them from the mediteranean fruit fly by covering the fruit in August in black panty hose cut into 6 (3 sleeves per leg). Harvesting begins in December, the fruit is left to stand at least 10 days before eating.

And last but not least the incredible show : Peeling a Pomelo

It is done by an equatorial incision, you then slide your thumb between the albedo and the segments and you turn. You end up with two hollow half spheres that make hats, or big breasts for girls and cut into strips then soaked overnight in cold water can be candied and make delicious cakes.

Here is a video of Mr. Shiraki – a friend and an outstanding producer of Buntan in Kochi - who shows how to peel a pomelo without getting your fingers dirty (don't forget to say "Kuru Kuru" when rotating the fruit) https: // www.youtube.com/watch?v=9BqiwCnet1g

Recommended Book

Citrus fruit : How to grow and use citrus fruit flower and foliage. B.B. Mackay Books

Jean-Paul Brigand and Ann Kenny

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