A descendant of the pomelo and sweet orange, grapefruit was originally grown in subtropical climates as an ornamental plant dubbed the “forbidden fruit.” First bred in Barbados and brought to the United States in the early 1800s, the fruit earned widespread popularity when the first patent for the variety Ruby Red was created in 1929, transforming the fruit into an agricultural success. Today, this uniquely tangy-sweet fruit grows abundantly in Arizona, California, Texas and Florida – the world’s largest producer of the fruit.
The grapefruit was named for the grape like clusters in which they grow. Though the flesh color varies with each variety, the skin is usually yellow and may have a pinkish blush.
Available year-round, look for grapefruit with a brightly colored skin. A ripe grapefruit should feel firm yet springy when gently squeezed in the palm of your hand. If it feels heavy for its size, then the juicier it will be. Best preserved in a plastic bag in the refrigerator’s produce drawer for up to two weeks, grapefruit can also be stored at room temperature for up to two days. Very low in calories and a great source of dietary fiber, grapefruit contain about the same amount of vitamin C as oranges.
To remove segments from grapefruit, first cut off any peel and white pith. Holding the grapefruit over a small bowl covered with a fine-mesh strainer to catch segments, with paring knife, cut on either side of membranes to release each segment. If desired, squeeze the leftover membrane to release any excess juice.
A celebrated treat for breakfast, the grapefruit is most commonly eaten cut in half and sprinkled with sugar. If you’re looking for a new way to enjoy this fruit, try adding the segments to a salad or sprinkle grapefruit halves with brown sugar and broil. Add chopped grapefruit to avocado and jalapeno for a refreshing relish to serve over fish, chicken or pork, or add the juice to homemade salad dressing in place of some of the vinegar or lemon juice.