If the word “pamplemousse” grabbed your attention, I’m glad. I think it’s such a funny, fun word.
Pamplemousse is French for grapefruit, which is now coming into season here in Southern California—and shipping to grocery stores nationwide. With a bumper crop of fresh citrus everywhere (it’s common for people to have some type of citrus tree in their yard here), it’s important to find creative ways to use it up.
Here are some special ways to enjoy the brightness of grapefruit this winter…
A Brief History of Grapefruit
The grapefruit (Citrus paradisi) is a large citrus fruit related to the orange, lemon and pomelo. Grapefruits are categorized as white (blond), pink or ruby, which refers to the color of their flesh inside the yellow or green peel.
Grapefruits were commercially discovered in Barbados in the 18th century. Many botanists think the grapefruit was actually the result of a natural cross breeding which occurred between the orange and the pomelo, a citrus fruit that was brought from Indonesia to Barbados in the 17th century.
The resulting fruit was given the name “grapefruit” in 1814 in Jamaica, a name which reflects the way it’s arranged when it grows—hanging in clusters just like grapes.
Grapefruit trees were planted in Florida in the early 19th century, although they did not become a viable commercial crop until later that century. Florida is still a major producer of grapefruits, as is California, Arizona and Texas. Other countries that produce grapefruits commercially include Israel, South Africa and Brazil.
Grapefruit is an excellent source of vitamin C, a vitamin that helps to support the immune system. Vitamin C also prevents the free radical damage that triggers inflammatory conditions such as asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis. As free radicals can oxidize cholesterol and lead to plaques that may rupture causing heart attacks or stroke, vitamin C is beneficial to promoting cardiovascular health.
Grapefruit is also a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin A, potassium, folate, and vitamin B5. Grapefruit also contains many phytochemicals including tons of bioflavonoids and lycopene. The rich pink and red colors of grapefruit are due to lycopene, a nutrient that appears to have anti-tumor activity. Among the common dietary carotenoids, lycopene has the highest capacity to help fight free radicals, which can damage cells, leading to disease.
Grapefruit can help lower your bad cholesterol and triglycerides, but it is so powerful, there is one caveat: Compounds in grapefruit are known to increase circulating levels of several prescription drugs, including calcium channel blockers and statins. For this reason, the risk of toxicity associated with statins and other prescription drugs may increase when grapefruit is consumed.
Talk to your doctor about whether you can eat grapefruit safely with your prescription medications.
Grapefruit juice has been shown to help prevent kidney stones and protect against various forms of cancer. Owing to the multitude of vitamin C’s health benefits, it is not surprising that research has shown that consumption of vegetables and fruits high in this nutrient is associated with a reduced risk of death from all causes, including heart disease, stroke and cancer.
Selecting and Storing Grapefruit
A good grapefruit doesn’t have to be perfect in color. Skin discoloration, scratches or scales may affect the appearance of a grapefruit, but they do not impact the taste or texture quality. Signs of decay include an overly soft spot at the stem end of the fruit and areas that appear watersoaked. These forms of decay usually translate into poor taste.
The fruits should be heavy for their size as this usually indicates that they feature thin skins and therefore a higher concentration of juicier flesh. Those that have overly rough or wrinkled skin usually tend to be thick skinned, and should be avoided.
Grapefruits should be firm, yet slightly springy when gentle pressure is applied. While chilled grapefruits do not have any fragrance, those kept at room temperature should have a subtly sweet aroma. Grapefruits can be purchased throughout the year, although the height of the season ranges from winter through early spring.
Here are four special grapefruit recipes to enjoy this delicious and nutritious fruit this week:
Grapefruit in Simple Rosemary Syrup
This is one of the simplest and yummiest ways to dress up a grapefruit for winter.
- 1 pink grapefruit, cut into supremes
- 1 white grapefruit, cut into supremes
- 1 cup fresh squeezed grapefruit juice (from 2-4 grapefruits)
- 3 tablespoons Rapadura or palm sugar
- 1 tablespoon rosemary
- Combine grapefruit juice, sugar and rosemary in a small saucepan. Simmer the mixture until reduced by one third.
- Place the supremed grapefruits into 4 small bowls, and drizzle with the syrup.
Caramelized Onion and Grapefruit Salad
- 3 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 onions, very thinly sliced
- 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 tsp. sea salt
- 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
- 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp. honey
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 pink grapefruits, cut into supremes
- 1 head romaine lettuce, thinly sliced or torn into 1-inch pieces
- 1 large fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced
- 3 scallions, finely sliced
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
- 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and sliced (optional, if available)
- For the caramelized onions: In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are deep golden brown, about 20 minutes. Set aside to cool, about 10 minutes.
- For the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the red wine vinegar, lemon juice and honey. Slowly whisk in the olive oil until blended. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- For the salad: Peel and trim the ends from each grapefruit. Place supreme-cut grapefruit segments in a large salad bowl. Add the lettuce, fennel, scallions, cucumber (if using), and thyme.
- Pour the dressing over the salad and toss until all the ingredients are coated.
- Arrange the caramelized onions on top and serve.
- 1 large seedless grapefruit, cut into supremes
- 1/2 small avocado, peeled, pitted and diced
- 1 small shallot, minced
- 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
- 1 tsp. red wine vinegar
- 1 tsp. honey
- Remove the peel and white pith from grapefruit with a sharp knife and discard.
- Supreme the grapefruit segments from the surrounding membrane.
- Squeeze out remaining juice into the bowl and discard membrane.
- Add avocado, shallot, cilantro or parsley, vinegar and honey.
- Toss well to combine.
- Enjoy with well seasoned—or even spicy—poultry and pork dishes
Roasted Beet and Grapefruit Salad
- 6 small beets
- 1 medium ruby red grapefruit, cut into supremes
- 2 ounces alfalfa sprouts, trimmed
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium shallot, minced
- 3 pinches sea salt
- 10 grinds black pepper
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- Thyme leaves from 10 sprigs of thyme
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
- Roast beets for about 1 hour and 15 minutes or until fork tender. (It can help to wrap them in foil)
- Remove beets from oven, unwrap and let cool 5 minutes before peeling them. Slice the peeled beets into eighths.
- Place the supreme-cut grapefruit segments in a bowl. Take the inner grapefruit remains and squeeze whatever juice you can out of it over the top of the grapefruit segments in the bowl.
- Mix together all the dressing ingredients along with all the juice that you can strain from the bowl of grapefruit.
- Assemble the salad by making a little heap of alfalfa in the middle of the plate. Scatter the cut beets around the plate. Pinch off pieces of the grapefruit segments and scatter them around the plate.
- Drizzle generously with dressing, top with a couple more grinds black pepper and serve.