The grapefruit was introduced to Florida in 1823, and early in the 20th century, a mutant strain of the white-skinned grapefruit appeared. These were pink to red in colour and were eventually bred to produce the red grapefruit that is available today. The US is one of the top producers of grapefruit. China and South Africa also produce a large quantity of this fruit.
The ancestor of the grapefruit is thought to have been a cross between the Jamaican sweet orange and the Indonesian pomelo.
In Australia, grapefruit is grown commercially in all states (except Tasmania) and the Northern Territory.
A juicy, halved grapefruit accompanied by freshly scrambled eggs and a well-made coffee is a great way to start the day. The citrus flavour of grapefruit is a perfect accompaniment to meat dishes and salads. The acidity of the fruit helps to cut through the richness of the meat and it adds a refreshing tang to salads.
In Australia, grapefruit are usually sold by colour and variety. The red-skinned grapefruit are becoming popular because they tend to be sweeter and less acidic than the yellow varieties.
The commonly available Marsh variety has yellow skin and juicy, pale yellow flesh. This grapefruit has a mild flavour and does not have any seeds. The Thompson (or Pink Marsh) has yellow skin, pink to red flesh and no seeds. The Wheeny variety is a large, juicy grapefruit with thin green to yellow skin. It has seeds and a lemon flavour.
Ruby grapefruit (also known as Ruby Red, Red Blush, Rio Red and Star Blush) has smooth skin with a distinctive red blush. The flesh is pink to red and is juicy and sweeter in flavour than the Marsh variety.
Why grapefruit is good to eat
Grapefruit is a good source of vitamin C (needed for the growth and repair of tissues in the body) and contains some vitamin A.
- It also contains minerals such as potassium (which helps to regulate blood pressure) and some magnesium (involved in the regulation of muscle, heart and nerve function and keeping bones strong).
- Grapefruit contains dietary fibre, which is important for a healthy bowel.
- Energy – 100 g of grapefruit supplies 140 kJ.
How grapefruit are grown and harvested
The grapefruit tree is an evergreen (retains its leaves throughout the year) that grows to between 4 and 6 m. It has large, oval, glossy green leaves and spreading branches. The branches have flexible, short spikes. The large, white, fragrant flowers develop into grapefruit after pollination.
Grapefruit grow in clusters and resemble yellow grapes. The fruit ripens on the tree and it is harvested by hand to reduce damage.
Grapefruit trees grow best in a position with full sun. They prefer warm to hot summers and areas with low to moderate rainfall. The trees also need to be protected from frost and wind.
Choose grapefruit that have glossy skin and feel heavy for their size. Avoid those that have soft spots, extensive bruising or other visible damage on the skin.
How to store grapefruit
Store grapefruit at room temperature or in the crisper section of your fridge. Grapefruit will keep for a week if stored at room temperature and longer if stored in the fridge.
How to use
- Try citrus and pork – toss grapefruit segments with avocado, cherry tomatoes, nectarine segments and mixed salad leaves, then dress with a honey-balsamic vinaigrette, sprinkle with almond slivers and serve with pork.
- Make a refreshing salad – mix slices of fennel, red onion, apple and pink grapefruit segments, then drizzle with a citrus dressing and top with toasted chopped walnuts and torn fresh basil leaves.
- Serve an impressive scallop entrée – combine endive (or lettuce) with pink grapefruit, sliced red onion and rocket leaves, then dress with a mustard vinaigrette and arrange scallops (or prawns) on top.
- Enjoy a simple, nutritious starter – combine baby spinach leaves, pink grapefruit segments, avocado and sliced red radishes, then dress with a mixture of red wine vinegar, chopped shallots, poppy seeds, honey, mustard, olive oil and seasoning.
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