What is the Perfume Project?

This blog is a constantly evolving forum for thoughts on perfume, perfume-making, plants (especially orchids and flora of the Pacific Northwest) and life in general. It started out chronicling the adventures of Olympic Orchids Perfumes, established in July 2010, and has expanded in other directions. A big part of the blog is thinking about the ongoing process of learning and experimentation that leads to new perfumes, the exploration of perfumery materials, the theory and practice of perfume making, the challenges of marketing perfumes and other fragrance products, and random observations on philosophy and society. Spam comments will be marked as such and deleted; any comments that go beyond the boundaries of civil discourse will also be deleted. I am grateful to all of you, the readers, who contribute to the blog by commenting and making this a truly interactive perfume project.

Monday, December 8, 2014


It’s been difficult to post anything what with the end-of-term academic scramble, the Black Friday sales, and the usual round of family and professional events that require my attendance, compounded by yesterday’s receipt of final proofs for a 200+ page scientific book that I have to go through to catch any new errors introduced by the publisher. Just when I was giving up hope of ever writing anything for the blog, Azar came to the rescue with a post on her candied pomelo rinds. I tasted them last week, and they’re delicious! I haven’t seen it, but what we need is pomelo essential oil for perfumery. 

Here’s Azar’s post:

Fall and winter are usually very wet, cold and dark here in the Pacific Northwest.  Nevertheless I look forward to November and December, not so much for the holidays as for the seasonal advent of the new citrus crop.  I'm crazy for the zest, the colors, scents and flavors of navels, grapefruit, blood oranges, tangerines, mandarins, Honeybells, kumquats and their hybrids, the lemons and the limes (especially the Persian variety) and, of course, my all time favorite citrus fruit, the monster pomelo (AKA Citrus maxima, Citrus grandis, pummelo, lusho fruit, shaddock).

Pomelos range in size from 5 to over 10 inches in diameter.  These big guys look like extra large grapefruits varying in color from bright green to lemon yellow and weighing in anywhere from 2 to almost 5 lbs. per fruit.  The pink or yellowish flesh is crisp and sweet, but getting to the innards of a pomelo can be a real challenge.

To peel and segment a pomelo first chop off the ends, score the peel like you would a Valencia orange and then carefully peel the rind from the fruit.  The fragrant pith of a pomelo is colored like white and pink cotton candy and is thick, smooth and squishy to the touch.  Remove as much of the pith as possible, pull the fruit in half, score on the segment lines and break into natural segments.  Trim the edges of the segments and then insert a sharp fillet knife under each membrane and separate from the flesh as you would when skinning or filleting a fish.  With practice this will leave you with neat, ready to eat pomelo segments. I have to admit that I still need practice even after years of pomelos!

It always saddens me to throw away the peels, so this year I decided to turn the rinds into candied citron and use them in my version of that sadly misunderstood and maligned holiday staple, the fruitcake! I love fruitcake, from the scariest drugstore versions in the questionably decorated tins to the expensive, specialty fruitcakes individually prepared in homes and monasteries around the world.  Since I can no longer eat pecans, walnuts or commercial candied cherries and citron colored with "mad dog red No. 3", I will probably have to develop a fruitcake recipe using almonds and my own candied pomelo peels.

Azar's Candied Pomelo Peels
peels from 1 large pomelo
1 cup white granulated sugar plus some additional sugar to coat the peels
1 cup water

Peel the pomelo and eat the flesh.  Remove most of the pith from the peels. Cut into ½ " strips.  Blanch the peels 3 to 5 times (or more) to soften and remove bitterness. Heat water and 1 cup sugar until clear, add the peels and simmer on low for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.  Transfer the cooked peels to a drying rack, cool and pat off the excess liquid.  Roll the rinds in the additional sugar (or shake them in a bag with the sugar) until coated.  Return the peels to the rack, put the rack on a parchment covered cookie sheet and dry the peels in a 160 degree F oven for 12 to 18 hours until the peels are slightly crisp and dry to the touch. Cool the rinds on the rack and store in Ziploc bags.  

Candied pomelo peels can be munched as is, dipped in semi sweet chocolate, chopped for use in spumoni ice cream or cannoli filling and, of course, added to your favorite fruitcake recipe. All of this talk about fruitcake brings to mind this holiday riddle:  Why is your grandfather's gold watch like your grandmother's fruitcake?

Happy Baking,
Azar xx

And that’s it, folks! The cool thing is that you could do this with any citrus rinds and probably any sort of fruit. I assume that an answer to the riddle will be forthcoming.

[All photos are by Azar]


  1. The answer to the riddle: They can both be passed down from one generation to the next. This riddle was spawned from a famous ad for Patek Phillipe watches, inspired by the slogan "You never actually own a Patek Phillipe [or for that matter a fruitcake], you merely look after it for the next generation."
    Azar xx

    1. I assumed it was something to do with longevity and heritability, but wasn't sure how undesirability factored in. I guess it doesn't.

    2. Both a Patek and a fruitcake are gifts that just keep on giving, for very different reasons of course. Over the years I have enjoyed many a cast off and re-gifted fruitcake. The Patek is another story. The only Patek I will probably ever have was lost many years ago on the ski slopes of Dezin in the Alborz mountains. My dear daughter Lauren will never see it! No Patek for her but there may be some fruitcake!

  2. So Cool Azar!!
    We don't really get Pomelos in Oz but I love them when we do.
    Portia xx

    1. Hey Portia!
      I have to admit to paying over $6.00 for one pomelo in the off season. About a month ago the poms were just arriving in the store. The produce guy saw me coming, pulled out his knife and cut free samples of all the new crop citrus fruit. It was kind of like a wine tasting. I was primed to buy and I did!
      Azar xx

  3. I have never tried fresh pomelo, but it is on my list of citrus fruits to try along with ugli :)