Grapefruit 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 is a special way to enjoy the brightness of grapefruit this season.
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.
The adrenal glands are the body’s primary consumer of Vitamin C. If you have any kind of stress in your life, or if you are suffering adrenal fatigue or chronic fatigue syndrome, getting lots of Vitamin C is crucial to your 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 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.
Grapefruit can also 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.
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 water-soaked. 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 is a unique winter salad to help you enjoy this delicious and nutritious fruit.
Roasted Beet and Grapefruit Salad
The brightness of grapefruit combines with the rich, earthiness of beets to make this delightful winter salad.
- 6 small beets
- 1 medium ruby red grapefruit cut into supremes
- 2 ounces alfalfa sprouts trimmed
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds lightly toasted (optional)
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
- Roast beets for about 1 hour 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, too. Toss almonds over the salad, if using.
Drizzle generously with dressing, top with more freshly ground black pepper, and serve.