- Author: Therese Kapaun
Pummelo (Citrus maxima) is one of several ancient lineages of citrus thought to have originated in China. Modern hybridizations of pummelo with orange have resulted in what we know today as grapefruit (Citrus paradisi), however there are many varieties of pummelo that are great tasting on their own, and in addition they tend to lack the bitterness of grapefruit. Pummelo and grapefruit have the ability to grow into enormous trees, so be careful when deciding where to plant these trees in urban settings. The largest tree at Lindcove REC is also one of the oldest, a Brown Marsh grapefruit planted in 1963 on Troyer rootstock.
Today the Citrus Clonal Protection Program (CCPP) used the Fruit Quality Lab at Lindcove REC to test several varieties of pummelo to determine whether they would be palatable and thus harvestable for the early season market. Three varieties stood out as clear taste-winners, these are Mato Buntan, Thong Dee, and Tahitian. In terms of °Brix, Mato Buntan was 10.9, Thong Dee was 11.1, and Tahitian was 11.5. As for percent acid, Mato Buntan was 0.46, Thong Dee was 0.89, and Tahitian was 0.91. Thong Dee was regarded by the ad hoc volunteer taste panel as having the best tasting juice. These three varieties will be retested every two weeks for a number of months to determine the timing and duration of "good flavor".
Fruit quality data for many varieties of citrus can be found on the websites of both CCPP and the Citrus Variety Collection (CVC), both organizations are based in Riverside, California. Their websites are as follows: