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Chinese Grapefruit: 5 Important Facts You Need to Know

If you’re a person who has a “bigger is better” mantra when it comes to what you eat, then Chinese grapefruit are a fruit you should get on your radar. This is the largest edible fruit in the world that we know of, putting regular old grapefruits to shame.

Chinese grapefruit

It’s been called many names by many cultures, such as pomelo, Bali lemon, Pamplemousse, and shaddock. But just like a rose, a Chinese grapefruit is just as sweet (and delicious) were it under any other name. Keep reading to learn all about the Chinese grapefruit.

Chinese Grapefruit History

Chinese grapefruit

It should come as no surprise that the Chinese grapefruit is native to China. It’s been cultivated in Southern Asia for centuries.

When trade opened up in the Eighteenth Century, British explorer Captain Shaddock brought the Chinese Grapefruit to the western world. He believed it would flourish in the southern American colonies like Georgia, which had a similar climate to the Chinese grapefruit’s homeland.

Shaddock was correct. The modern grapefruit that is so popular today was born out of cross-breeding the Chinese grapefruit and an orange.

The Chinese grapefruit is still grown and eaten today, though it isn’t as popular due to its large size.

Chinese Grapefruit Characteristics

Chinese grapefruit

As we said, the Chinese grapefruit is large and in charge. How large? This grapefruit typically measures between six to ten inches in diameter, making it the same size as a regulation basketball. Some Chinese grapefruits can get up to one foot in diameter!

On average, it weighs between two and four pounds; on the low end, that’s four times the weight of an American grapefruit.

The Chinese grapefruit is known for having a thick, soft rind, much thicker and harder to penetrate than an American grapefruit. The rind can be a green-yellowish color, which can change depending on its ripeness.

The flesh is separated into several segments, fifteen on average. The flesh color can range from yellow to red. The redder, the better. Red or pink flesh will give you a sweet taste; Chinese grapefruits with yellow flesh are much more acidic and lead to a bitter taste. Choose wisely.

Chinese grapefruits have a distinct, tangy taste that make it stand out among fruit. They are sweeter than your average grapefruit, but they also have some of the tartness that are trademarks of American grapefruit. The Chinese grapefruit isn’t as juicy as an American grapefruit, but its juice is very sweet and flavorful.

Eating Chinese Grapefruit

Chinese grapefruit

Chinese grapefruit are large and filling fruits that are most commonly eaten raw. Make sure to discard the rind and white membrane surrounding the flesh, or else it will give you a bitter taste.

These grapefruits can be eaten as a snack or whenever you like. They are delicious, fat-free, and high in fiber, which aids in digestion. They can also provide over 400% of your daily Vitamin C needs, providing antioxidants and boosting your immune system. They refrigerate well and can last up to a week.

If you like to cook, these grapefruits can be a versatile tool in your kitchen. There are a myriad of ways to utilize this fruit in your recipes.

You can juice the Chinese grapefruit to create a delicious, tart glass of grapefruit juice. You can then use the squeezed-out flesh to make jam preserves, which can be spread on a warm piece of bread or cracker.

The rind is surprisingly popular in cuisine. Shave some pieces off for Chinese grapefruit zest, which can be a lovely garnish for dishes. In Asia, the skin is candied and sweetened and then served as a treat to children. Use the skin for the traditional recipe Balat ng Suha, which braises the grapefruit skin, which adds a dash of sweetness to this savory dish.

The grapefruit skin can also be used to freshen up a room. What you need to do is dry out the skin, then place the pieces in netted bags, turning them into potpourri. You can put them in cupboards or bathrooms as a natural air freshener.

With Chinese grapefruit flesh, there are lots of recipes floating around the internet. You can make grapefruit pastries, creating filling for a pie or bar. Check out this recipe for Pomelo Citrus Bars. For something simpler, sprinkle pieces of cut-up Chinese grapefruit over lettuce to add a tangy twist to salad.

Where to Buy Chinese Grapefruit

Chinese grapefruit

Because of its origin, this grapefruit is still popular among Asian communities. Your best bet for finding it in the wild is through an Asian grocery store, or a corner store in an Asian neighborhood. If they don’t have it, they should know where you can get it.

Over the last few years, this grapefruit’s popularity has inched up among the general population. There’ve been sightings of it at Whole Foods and even Wal-Mart’s grocery section. That could depend on the local demographics. If you live in an area with a decent Asian population, there’s a good chance that mainstream supermarkets will carry it.

If all else fails, there’s always the internet. You can order these grapefruits online for shipping through suppliers, or directly through farms with e-commerce infrastructure. We’ve even found vendors on Amazon who are selling them.

Growing Chinese Grapefruit

Chinese grapefruit

Depending on where you live, you may be able to grow your own Chinese grapefruit. Like oranges and other grapefruits, Chinese grapefruits need a warm climate that never gets freezing in order to thrive. In the U.S., USDA zones 9 and 10 are optimal. Think Florida, Georgia, and the Southern U.S. These grapefruit trees will die if exposed for prolonged periods to temperatures below twenty degrees.

You can plant your seeds in fertile soil, preferably outdoors. But you can also try and grow them in a sturdy, large pot indoors. The key to their success is ensuring they have sufficient exposure to sunlight. They need lots of sunlight to grow. If growing outdoors, position the plants so that they won’t be overshadowed by tall trees; for indoor plants, position your pot by a window that gets tons of sunshine throughout the day.

The Chinese grapefruit tree blooms in the summer, and then they can be harvested in the winter, between November and March. Make sure they are constantly watered so they have the best chances of blooming and bearing fruit. It may help to have fertilizer on hand in case the soil nutrient levels drop.

The tree leaves are wide, vibrant green. Like most citrus trees, they are self-pollinating and don’t require help from bees in that department. Their blooms are ivory white and very fragrant, so fragrant that they’ve been used in perfumes.

Wrapping Up Chinese Grapefruits

Does size matter? If so, then the Chinese grapefruit is for you.

As the largest edible fruit, it is a delicious, tangy treat packed with nutrients that can hit your sweet spot. If you’ve ever wondered what a grapefruit would taste like if it were a little sweeter, then give the Chinese grapefruit a shot. You can eat them as is, or get creative with different recipes.

While not as common as the regular grapefruit, they are becoming more available. And really, they’re so big they’re kinda hard to miss.

Want to learn more about grapefruits? Next, visit our grapefruit trees page to discover information on planting, growing, caring, cooking, and more!