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The grapefruit, new on the citrus scene, is known for its sour-sweet tang.
HistoryThe grapefruit is the baby of the citrus world, having been around for less than 300 years. Almost certainly descended from the Malaysian and Indonesian pummelo, the grapefruit may be the deliberate child of hybridization or may be a horticultural fluke emerging from eighteenth century Jamaica, where the English Captain Shaddock took seeds of the pummelo in 1693.
The grapefruit found few fans amongst Jamaicans who disliked its bitterness, nor did it gain immediate acclaim amongst Americans when it was brought to the U.S. in 1823. A grapefruit market began to emerge from Florida in the late 1800s, but it wasn’t until the stock market crash of 1929 that they became widespread across the nation. Grapefruits could be purchased for free with food stamps, and thus destitute families were introduced to the fruit, at first confused over whether to cook it or eat it raw.
VarietiesGrapefruits come in both a seeded and seedless variety and also vary in flesh color: white grapefruits have a yellowish flesh and pink grapefruit ranges from pink to ruby-red flesh.
Though inferior in taste and nutritional value, canned grapefruit is also available for purchase.
Buying TipsWhen grapefruit shopping, look for bright colors and firm, unbruised skin. The heavier, the juicier.
Storage TipsGrapefruits make a lovely counter decoration and can last for days at room temperature. If looking to keep the fruits fresh longer—up to two weeks—keep them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.
Usage TipsGrapefruit halves are a popular breakfast food. Slice the fruit across the center and use a spoon to remove the triangular fleshy segments. “Grapefruit knives” are available to slice through the membranes and make the job easier, though the membranes can also be cut with an ordinary kitchen knife. Watch out—grapefruits love to squirt as you dig into them.
Use a knife to remove the peel from each end of the grapefruit, then slice the peel away while standing the fruit upright, trying to avoid slicing the flesh.
Grapefruits, like other citrus fruits, are also popular for their juice and tangy zest. When using the fruit for both, zest the grapefruit prior to juicing it.
• Roll the grapefruit under your palm on a hard surface to soften it before juicing.
• A variety of fruit-juicing tools are available for purchase
• A room-temperature or warmer grapefruit will yield more juice, so be sure to let the fruit sit unrefrigerated before juicing.
• If you only need a bit of juice at one time, make a toothpick-hole in the skin through which to extract juice, and then leave the toothpick in the hole to “seal” it and maintain freshness.
• Zest can be obtained with a sharp paring knife, a vegetable peeler, a cheese grater, or a specially-purchased zesting gadget.
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