Pummelos vary in eating quality, depending on season and growing area. Fruits with green rinds can be good, but best flavor develops when the skin begins to turn yellow. Peak season in the Central Valley runs from December to March or April; in the Southland, fruit ripens a month later, and many smaller growers sometimes let it hang into the summer.
At market, look for heavy pummelos with a rich aroma. Medium-size fruits are best for eating; huge specimens, though much appreciated by Asians, tend to be dry and woody. Aficionados maintain that pummelos stored for a month or more improve in flavor and juiciness.
Pummelos aren’t suited to being cut in half and eaten with a spoon, like grapefruit, because the pulp doesn’t come out easily that way. Instead, filet a pummelo by slicing off the top and bottom as near as possible to the flesh and scoring the rind longitudinally, around the equator without cutting into the flesh. Strip off the peels, saving them for candying, and remove as much as possible of the bitter white pith. Tear the fruit ball in half, separate the segments and use knife and fingers to remove the membranes.
For an attractive presentation, arrange the segments in a circular pattern on a plate or use them in fruit salads.
Asians usually eat pummelos fresh, often with dips of salt, sugar and chile, which bring out the flavor. Dry, “ricey” pummelos are used in salads with chile and fish sauce. Chinese cooks also boil the rind and use it as a vegetable in stews with meat and fish, and Persians and Greeks make jam of the peel and juice.