Candied Pomelo Peel

by Bri on March 14, 2008

As I mentioned before, I have fallen in love with a new (very ancient) giant citrus: pomelo. Native to Southeast Asia and Malaysia, and then introduced to China about 3000 years ago, pomelos are the ancestors of grapefruit. Used medicinally for ages, they are quite delicious, it turns out.

Peeled Pomelo

Just look how huge this pomelo is. I love the bright pink flesh and soft pink pith.

We picked up a few at the farmers market and the flesh was sweet, tangy, juicy and all kinds of tasty. Since they are pretty spendy ($2 a piece, although they cost twice that at the grocery store) I wanted to get the full experience and candy the rind.

After doing some research, there are many ways to candy citrus peels. Some recipes suggest using a peeler to remove the skin with the least amount of pith, but we’d already peeled them. Besides, many recipes said that didn’t matter, since we could just scrape the pith off after boiling. Also, a few recipes called for salting the boiling water, then cooking them in sugar syrup. Since it wasn’t a requirement in all the recipes and we are in the midst of a fast from salt, that step was right out.

It’s interesting how many variations there are. I wonder if anyone has THE answer, or if it’s just a matter of habit and preference. I realized that the salt was to remove bitterness from the pith and rind. There was some bitterness in my finished product, but it’s not to strong, and adds a bit more character. Sometime I might try the brining (salted) method to see if it removes more of the bitterness, but I don’t know that it’s really necessary. It’s a different technique, but similar concept behind degorging bitterness from eggplant by salting it and letting it sit awhile before cooking.

Candied Pomelo Peel

You will need about equal parts:
sugar (I use raw sugar or evaporated cane juice since it still has some nutrients)

Thoroughly wash and peel pomelo (in large chunks) and enjoy the fabulous sweet and sour fruit. Place the pieces of peel in a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and then cook for 10 minutes. Pour out the water, and repeat twice more. The first time, the peel will most likely float to the top, so put a lid on it, and push the pieces down into the water a bit. By the second boiling, the pith becomes water logged and will stay just under the surface of the water.

After the third boiling and draining, give the peels a good rinse with cold water to help wash off any last bitterness that you can, and help them cool faster.

Second or third boiling – left panel, right panel is two sections of rind where the right one has been scraped of pith

When they are cool enough to handle, scrape the soft pith off the rind. The rind is a bit delicate, so don’t scrape too hard. There was so much pith on mine, I had almost equal pith to usable rind.

Slice them into strips whatever length you like. I chose about 1/2 inch by 2 inch ribbons. Set them aside.

I had about 3 1/2 cups of rind strips, and the recipes varied, but suggested about equal amounts rind, sugar and water. I decided to use 3 1/2 cups of water, but just 3 cups sugar. Worked great, you use your judgment. Over medium-low heat dissolve the sugar in the water, then add in the pieces of peel. Now, you need to be patient. For best results, you want to cook them slowly so the sugar doesn’t burn and the water evaporates. Some recipes said you couldn’t touch them once the sugar dissolved, due to crystal formation, which did occur, but I totally enjoyed the results, so again, it’s up to you.

I saw two main methods for cooking in the sugar syrup. One says to cook the peels until the water is evaporated, others said to just cook them awhile and then drain them on a rack. I tasted the peels every 45 minutes or so and the flavor was quite different at each stage. If you cook it all the way until the liquid is gone, the flavor really intensifies and deepens, but you can choose which method suits you.

Left panel: peels at beginning of being cooked in sugar syrup. Right panel: water has evaporated and translucent peels are just about to come out of the pot.

I lost track a bit while I was making dinner, but the peels cooked between 2 1/2 and 3 hours before the water was fully evaporated. I suggest you leave them alone for about the first hour or so, and then check on them every 10-20 minutes or so after that to make sure the water doesn’t evaporate so quickly the sugar burns.

Left panel: peels have just been spread out on the silpat and are steaming hot. Right panel: dusted with granulated raw sugar.

If you choose this method, once the water has evaporated and the peels have become translucent, carefully (sugar is VERY HOT) pour it out onto wax paper or silpat and spread them out. Otherwise, drain them on a rack to cool. Dust them with sugar and let them cool and dry. I left them alone (beside a little tasting here and there) overnight and then pulled them apart from each other and dusted with more sugar. They are absolutely delicious with an intense sweet-tart taste and strong grapefruit flavor. The applications are endless: dip them in chocolate, decorate other desserts, eat them as-is, put them in brownies cookies or cakes…you name it.

Now that they are candied and delicious, what will I do with these pomelo peels?

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Kaykat March 14, 2008 at 2:25 pm

Yum! These look insanely delicious. And remind me that I’m so long overdue on my candied fruits project πŸ™‚

Bri March 14, 2008 at 4:51 pm

Kaykat – Thanks! This was my first foray into candied fruits. I’ll have to try out more.

rachel March 14, 2008 at 8:10 pm

Ahh you have used them well…

Bri March 15, 2008 at 5:21 pm

Rachel – Thank you. From one citrus lover to another πŸ™‚

gigi March 21, 2008 at 12:55 pm

hi bri,

if i were you i would top angel food cake with a citrus glaze and these!

Bri March 21, 2008 at 4:30 pm

Gigi – Now that sounds Divine. Angel food cake is so awesome with fruit, that this would be amazing. Oh…and fresh whipped cream….mmmmm

mai March 21, 2008 at 7:46 pm

hi bri,

i love browsing your site, it’s on my top bar of regularly visited places. i check in and see what you are cooking, it all looks and sounds so yummy. but today, when i saw your amigos picture, i just had to say hi and send you my love! i remember that morning and those piles of grapefruits. that was the year i learned to love grapefruit πŸ™‚

Bri March 21, 2008 at 8:52 pm

Hey Mai! I guess you just never know who’s lurking out there πŸ˜‰
I’m so glad you are enjoying the site. You are of course, in the other half of the Amigos picture, but I didn’t want to publish your face without your permission. So, it’s just me. Thanks for coming out of lurkdom to send love. Right back at ya!

renee March 26, 2008 at 11:53 am

Thanks for the recipe. I carried three of those huge pomelos around SF for the day. I was glad I brought my backpack. They taste great, but I was wondering what I could do with the peels. Going into the kitchen now.

Niall Harbison April 17, 2008 at 10:06 am

Hi there,

I just stumbled accross your blog by using stumbleupon and love the design of the whole thing! I normally skip straight past food blogs as I have over 20 in my RSS and dont even have enough time to read the ones that I have! I am started out as a blogger myself and always tried to keep the design simple like yours as I think it is crucial, especially if you can back it up with some nice food pics like yours! Keep up the good work and if you feel like sharing some of the photos with other foodies pop over to which is my new site for foodies! Cheers!

Pepy June 1, 2008 at 5:40 am

I came across to your blog and saw beautiful pomelo. Reminds me of my childhood, at that time we were used to play with the skin. We took out the flesh and used the skin as a toy, we designed a car toy. We call pomelo “jeruk bali” (literally translated : Balinese Citrus)

Gay June 21, 2008 at 5:19 pm

Hi Bri, this looks great. We always have an avalanche of pomelo when it’s in season and our pomelo trees and brimming. This is a great idea to make. We just throw the rind away. I’ll be sure to make them.

Karen January 18, 2009 at 5:11 pm

I will have to try this out. I’ve just had my first Pomelo and love the idea of eating the peels too. These candies look delicious! Thanks for the recipe!

me February 1, 2009 at 2:29 am

Thanks, I will go and try it. I’ve only made candy from the pith before.

kamal December 3, 2009 at 2:29 pm


I would like to make these along citrus peel as a christmas gift for my children’s teachers. I am feeling anxious as I have never made these before and I am afraid that they might not turn out as they should. Any suggestions?


Cynthe December 5, 2009 at 8:53 pm

Kamal ~ These are easy to make. Don’t worry. We have some other posts on candied citrus: Preserving Magic (lemon slices & orange peels) that have lots of step-by-step instructions as well. I’m thinking of making more for our holiday celebrations, too. Give them a try and let us know how they come out.

Yvonne November 30, 2012 at 8:12 am

Have a pomelo tree. It is loaded this year (last year it only had six). I wish there was a recipe other than pomelo bars to use the pulp. anyone have any suggestions? The pomelos on my tree are huge…bigger than my head in most cases! I filled a 2 quart bowl with the pulp from one pomelo, not counting the amount I ate while separating it from the peel. Definately going to try candied peels. Also, though it is the last day of November, my fruit aren’t ripe yet. They have a rather bland taste at the moment. I added honey to the pulp I ate. They are so heavy now that I have to support the branches and the fruit. I hope they can stay on the branches long enough to ripen. I am afraid they will disappear, as there is a lot of foot traffic in my neighborhood, and my tree elicits lots of comments. My kumquat tree has already fallen prey to looters.

Cynthe November 30, 2012 at 12:36 pm

Yvonne ~ Where do you live? Prop up those heavy branches so they don’t break. One of my plum trees were badly damaged when I didn’t prop the branches soon enough. You could put a signs on your fruit trees “Please Don’t STEAL FRUIT. Ask permission, if you want some.”

Ideas for using the fruit: Make juice and freeze it to use later. Put the squeezed pulp into a compost pile for the garden. Definitely candy the peel! How about making pomelo marmalade or jelly?

jacQuie January 9, 2015 at 11:12 am

never cooked it with the peel so now I see that you can make 2 different sets of preserves, one of the peel and one of a thicker softer juicy pith.
1 cut in 8 sections to peel the fruit.
2 lay on counter peel down and use sharp filetting knife to slice off the peel from pith.
3 you can continue the boil, drain method with both, but do the sugaring separate pots
4 the pith is drained of excess water, cut into slimmer strips, then brought to the boil in syrup and left to soak overnight. I repeat 2/3days until the pith becomes heavy and semitransparent. I think drying on a rack or warm oven might go faster. it has a marshmallowy texture, roll in powdered sugar when dry. has a soft centre.
you’ll then have a juicy candy plus dried preserved peel for cooking or decorating

Cynthe April 2, 2015 at 8:08 am

Thanks for your suggestions, JacQuie!

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