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Limau besar is a large citrus fruit which is better known to English speakers as a pomelo, shaddock, or pummelo. These citrus fruits are native to Southeast Asia, although they are cultivated in other warm climates such as those found in Israel and California. Many markets carry limau besar when it is in season, although it can be costly due to limited production. There are a number of ways to use this fruit, with many people enjoying it fresh as a source of vitamin C and other essential minerals.
The scientific name for limau besar is Citrus maxima, although Citrus grandis is also correct. As the name suggests, limau besar is the largest citrus fruit; in some regions, these fruits can get almost as big as basketballs, although smaller fruits tend to be sweeter. The large, juicy fruit is enclosed by a thick, spongy rind which is pale green to yellow when ripe.
The fruit is sweet, and it can be eaten in segments just like an orange. When a limau besar is fully ripened, the fruit is a rich and beautiful pink, and it can be slightly spicy as well as sweet, depending on growing conditions. Limau besars look quite beautiful when they are cut in half, with the rich greenish skin, bright white pith, and distinctive pink fruit.
In addition to being eaten fresh out of hand, the fruit can also be used in fruit salads, desserts, preserves, and an assortment of other foods, much like cooks use grapefruits, oranges, limes, and other citrus fruits. The rind can also be candied and used in desserts and various ethnic foods. Some people also use the rind in healthy teas, and dried rinds can be added to mixes of bath salts to add a distinctive odor and to condition the skin with their volatile oils.
Like many citrus fruits, limau besar ripens in the winter. In the market, look for an evenly colored specimen without any soft spots or brown marks. It can be tricky to pick out a good fruit, but with some practice you can learn the signs of a high quality pomelo. The fruit keeps under refrigeration for around a week, and you can also peel and wrap the segments for refrigeration. To make the peeling easier, try cutting slits into the rind with a knife to start the process, as it is extremely hard to peel a limau besar with your hands alone.
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