Just Like Paradise
This large citrus fruit tastes just like paradise, as its Latin name Citrus paradisi connotes. It has a wonderfully juicy, tart and tangy flavor with an added sweetness. It comes in many varieties ranging from seedless to seeded, white, pink or ruby.
The History of the Grapefruit: What's in a name?
Compared to the rest of the citrus family, the grapefruit is fairly new. As the offspring of the Pummelo, it most likely first appeared in Jamaica in the 1700s, though no one knows for sure. Some have argued that the grapefruit is actually a cross between the Pummelo and the orange, but there are no records to prove this.
The first description of the grapefruit was by Reverend Griffith Hughes in 1750, when he was searching for the origin of the tree of good and evil in the Garden of Eden. He called it the “forbidden fruit” of Barbados. By 19789, that name had traveled to Jamaica, where the fruit was also called the “smaller shaddock.” In 1814, the “grapefruit” was described in writings by John Lunan as a “variety of the shaddock,” and he also called it the “forbidden fruit.”
The grapefruit was actually smaller than we know it today, approximately the size of an orange when it first was discovered. A French botanist named Chevalier de Tussac wrote in 1820: "I have had the occasion to observe, at Jamaica, in the botanical garden of the Government, a variety of shaddock whose fruits, which are not bigger than a fair orange, are disposed in clusters; the English in Jamaica call this the 'forbidden fruit' or 'smaller shaddock’.”
The grapefruit arrived in the United States in 1823 with Count Odette Phillipe, who brought its seeds from the Bahamas to Florida. But it was not until the late 1800s that the public gained interest in the fruit. In 1870, John MacDonald noticed an unusual tree near his home in Orange County, Florida, and bought all the clusters of the fruit. He then established the first grapefruit nursery with the seeds of that tree. The first shipments of grapefruit arrived in New York and Philadelphia in 1885 and immediately drew the public’s attention. This was the beginning of the grapefruit industry.
Soon grapefruit trees were being planted in other parts of the country, including Arizona, Texas and California, and it wasn’t long before growers began to develop new varieties like those with pink and red flesh. In 1929, a Texas citrus grower noticed a red grapefruit growing on a tree full of pink grapefruits. That mutation, named the Ruby Red, was the first grapefruit to receive a U.S. patent and gave rise to the Texas Red Grapefruit Industry. The Texas Red became the official fruit of Texas in 1993.
Once they saw how popular the fruit had become, Jamaica, Trinidad, Brazil and Israel began to cultivate grapefruits as well. Today the fruit can also be found growing in Mexico, Argentina, Cyprus and Morocco. Varieties of grapefruit include Duncan, Marsh, Ruby Red, Foster, Oroblanco, Paradise Navel, Redblush, Star Ruby, Sweetie, Thompson and Triumph.
Did You Know?
Grapefruits got their name because they grow in clusters, like grapes. There have been several attempts to change the name to something with more commercial appeal, but they have all been unsuccessful.
Selecting Your Grapefruit
- Select a grapefruit that is firm and heavy for its size.
- Make sure that it doesn’t have soft spots or overly wrinkled skin.
- Check its scent – it should smell good, not rotten or fermented.
- A good grapefruit doesn’t have to have a perfect color.
- Skin discoloration, scratches or scales do not impact the taste or texture of the fruit.
How to Care For and Store
California Grapefruits should be stored in a cool, well ventilated area. Typically, storing grapefruits around 57° F is best. They can stay at room temperature for up to one week. If refrigerated, they can be kept for up to two weeks.
How to Enjoy
- Peel and eat for a quick, easy and nutritious snack on the go!
- Sprinkle sugar on half a grapefruit and for a breakfast treat!
- Try a glass of grapefruit juice in the morning instead of orange juice.
- Toss with cooked shrimp and fresh avocado into a salad to add an exotic twist.
- Add slices to yogurt for a light snack or breakfast.
- Mix juice into sauces for a sweet and tangy twist.
- Chop into vinaigrettes, sauces and relishes.
- For a summer salsa, dice with cilantro and chili peppers and serve over poultry or fish – or even with chips for a party snack!
- ½ grapefruit = 4 – 6 oz grapefruit juice.
- 1 medium grapefruit has 11 to 14 section pieces.
- For a juicier fruit, store grapefruit at room temperature.
- Juice grapefruit just before drinking to retain the most vitamins.
- Never store freshly squeezed juice for more than 48 hours.