With a powerful sour quality, the grapefruit needs to be fully ripe to enjoy. A breakfast favorite, the large succulent grapefruit has a yellow skin and is about three times the size of your average orange. Not only are grapefruits a great way to start your day with a nutritional breakfast, they are versatile enough to take you all the way up to dessert.
What is It?
Tart and tangy with a sweetness that grabs your taste buds, grapefruit rivals the popularity of the orange. Although they are generally available throughout the year, grapefruit are at their peak during the winter months. Grapefruits are typically two to three times larger than their orange cousins. The Latin scientific name for grapefruit, citrus paradisi, actually means “paradise-like.” Grapefruits are categorized as white, pink, or red, but their color isn’t evident from the outside. The classification reflects the color of their flesh. My family loves the ruby red variety as we feel it is the sweetest.
Grapefruits are one of the newer fruits to be become known outside of their native area. It wasn’t until the 18th century that grapefruit was found in Barbados. Grapefruit trees came to the US in the early 19th century. Scientists believe that the grapefruit was born out of a crossbreeding between an orange and the pomelo. The name ‘grapefruit’ actually came from the way these delicious fruits grow – hanging in clusters, like grapes, from trees. Florida, California, Arizona, and Texas are the four top producing states in the US due to their climate.
Grapefruit is an incredible source of vitamin C, which helps support the immune system. Vitamin C also helps prevent free radical damage and is therefore also associated with reduced severity of inflammatory conditions, such as asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis. The vitamins and nutrients in grapefruits also help promote cardiovascular health. Consumption of super-foods rich in vitamin C has resulted in a reduced risk of death from causes including heart disease, stroke and cancer. Grapefruit also protects against kidney stones and colon cancer.
A study done in Austria suggests that fruits which are ripe, almost to the point of spoilage, actually have increased antioxidant levels. So, for the most antioxidants, choose a fully ripened grapefruit. Grapefruits are naturally juicier when they’re slightly warm rather than cool, so it is important to store them at room temperature if you are planning on enjoying them within a week of purchase. If you will not be eating them within this time period, store them in the refrigerator crisper where they will keep fresh for about two to three weeks. Grapefruit is a great freshener, just like lemon. Put the peelings down the garbage disposal for deodorizing. The essential oils from grapefruit are also used in many scented products as well as beauty products.
How to Eat
Grapefruits are a citrus fruit, so you eat them like other citrus fruits. They can be eaten by peeling and separating the segments. You can also slice a grapefruit around the ‘equator’ and eat it like a bowl, using a serrated spoon to scoop out the sections to eat. You can cut around from top to bottom and continue to cut into wedges, just like other citrus. With the grapefruit, however, you must be sure to avoid eating the white ‘pith’ as it is very, very bitter. Beyond breakfast and snack time, the grapefruit has seen a resurgence in popularity in everything from vinaigrette to grilled meals to desserts.
This citrus, that has been familiar as a breakfast staple, is finding all sorts of new ways to make it to the table. Get familiar with this tangy sweet and juicy fruit to expand your culinary experience way beyond the ordinary.
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