The Joy of Picking Pomelos

A pomelo orchard.

Ethan did not single-handedly create Falling Fruit. Instead, it was a product of collaboration between him and Caleb Phillips, a computer scientist and fellow forager. (Image: Billy Shyu via Nspirement)

It is fun and interesting to pick pomelos yourself at a leisure farm. In particular, it is meaningful to pick pomelos with your family in the run-up to the Moon Festival (the Mid-autumn Festival), because both the pomelo fruit and the moon are round in shape, representing family reunion.

For more photos of picking pomelos, please watch the following video.

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The pomelo

The pomelo, also known as Citrus maxima, is a natural citrus fruit native to Southeast Asia. It is the largest citrus fruit that you can purchase, and is especially popular among the Chinese because of its symbolic connotations.

Two visitors pick pomelos at a leisure farm in  Keelung City
Two visitors pick pomelos at a leisure farm in northern Taiwan’s Keelung City. (Image: Billy Shyu via Nspirement)

Some like the pomelo because its sweet taste symbolizes a rich sweet life. Others enjoy eating the fruit just because its Cantonese pronunciation is similar to the words for prosperity and status. Still others enjoy the fruit because it is commonly called “yòu zi”(柚子) in Mandarin, which is a homophone for words that mean “a prayer for sons” (佑子).

The pomelos at a leisure farm in northern Taiwan's Keelung City.
The pomelos at an orchard of a leisure farm in northern Taiwan’s Keelung City. (Image: Billy Shyu via Nspirement)

In fact, the pomelo is also simply called  (柚 yòu) in Mandarin and its pronunciation is similar to that of “bless” (佑 yòu), symbolizing good fortune, health, and happiness for the family. As a result, many Taiwanese often use pomelos as an offering to their ancestors and deities. 

The pomelo is often eaten along with mooncakes at the Mid-autumn Festival. (Image: Billy Shyu via Nspirement)

The nutrients of the pomelo

Pomelo fruits are rich in vitamin C, vitamin B, beta-carotene, folic acid, minerals, etc. In particular, their vitamin C content is eight times that of apples. 

The pomelo is popular fruit among Taiwanese
The pomelo is popular among Taiwanese due to its nutrients and symbolic connotations. (Image: Julia Fu via Nspirement)

Additionally, they can also regulate blood pressure and break down proteins and fat for better digestion. Moreover, the limonoids in pomelos can prevent cancer cells from growing and dividing. 

The Wendan pomelo (文旦) produced in Taiwan
The Wendan pomelo (文旦) produced in Taiwan is very delicious. (Image: Billy Shyu via Nspirement)

When to pick pomelos

It is a common practice to harvest pomelo fruits around White Dew (白露) in the eighth lunar month, which is the 15th solar term of the year, and usually falls around September 7 or 8 every year. 

It is fun to use the tough exterior peel of pomelo fruit as a helmet.
Kids often like to use the tough exterior peel of pomelo fruit as a helmet for fun. (Image: Billy Shyu via Nspirement)

If pomelo fruits are not harvested around that period of time, they tend to fall on the ground, and their quality is then not so good either, because White Dew signifies the real beginning of cool autumn weather according to the traditional Chinese solar calendar.

The Hegang pomelo from Ruisui Township in eastern Taiwan's Hualien County
The Hegang pomelo from Ruisui Township in eastern Taiwan’s Hualien County is known for its acidic aroma and sweet flavor. (Image: Billy Shyu via Nspirement)

How to pick pomelos

When picking pomelos, you have to be careful with how you handle them, so as to do it easily and safely. For instance, when picking fruits at the higher end of the tree’s branches, it is better to use a sturdy ladder or a  knife with a long handle. If picking by hand, you should hold the fruit with one hand, and then pull it slightly with a twist with the other hand.

The tool to pick pomelos
It is easier to pick pomelos by using a knife with a long handle. (Image: Billy Shyu via Nspirement)

Where to pick pomelos in Taiwan

There are many harvest-your-own farms across Taiwan, and among them is King Ming Chang Leisure Farm (金明昌鹿園) located at Maling Recreational Farm Area in northern Taiwan’s Keelung City.  

The orchid of a leisure farm in northern Taiwan's Keelung City
One of the orchards of a leisure farm in northern Taiwan’s Keelung City. (Image: Billy Shyu via Nspirement)

Though the literal translation of this leisure farm’s name is King Ming Chang Deer Ranch, there are two separate pomelo orchards on the farm. Covering an area of 0.78 hectares (1.9 acres), the leisure farm has planted over 160 pomelo trees in these orchards. 

A Wendan pomelo orchard in Haulien
A Wendan pomelo orchard at Ruisui in eastern Taiwan’s Hualien City. (Image: Billy Shyu via Nspirement)

Most of the pomelos grown on this leisure farm are the Wendan pomelo (文旦), which originated in Taiwan and has a juicy and delicious flavor. Nevertheless, there are some Peiyu (Citrus grandis Osbeck, 大白柚), Xishi pomelo (西施柚) and grapefruit (葡萄柚) as well.

One thing special about this organic farm is that its pomelo trees are open for the general public to reserve one year beforehand at a cost of around NT$2,500 (US$90) per tree. In the following year, these patrons can go to the orchard to pick their pomelos around the Mid-autumn Festival. The guaranteed harvesting number per tree is 60 pieces. If reserved trees fail to bear enough pomelos, the leisure farm will make up the gap.

This leisure farm also allows general visitors to enjoy the pick-your-own experience with an advance reservation. It gives families the opportunity to pick pomelos themselves and take the harvest home at about US$2 per kilogram. 

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