The Glorious Grapefruit
Did you know?
Named for their tendency to grow in clusters like grapes, these juicy gems were first discovered in the West Indies in the early 1700s. A member of the citrus family, they’re believed to be the result of a natural crossbreeding between an orange and a pomelo. We can thank the Spanish for introducing grapefruit to Florida in the 1820s, though they grew grapefruit trees purely for their beauty, turned off by the fruit’s slightly bitter taste. Today the United States is the world’s top grapefruit producer, with about 75 percent of our country’s supply grown in Florida. You can find the fruit in three main varieties, categorized by the color of their flesh: white, pink/red and star ruby/rio red.
Step aside, OJ: Grapefruit can also help ward off nasty winter colds with its high vitamin C content (just one half of a grapefruit contains 80 percent of your recommended daily value). The fruit is also a good source of vitamin A, vitamin B6, potassium, thiamin and niacin, and contains pectin, a form of soluble fiber that may lower cholesterol. But not all grapefruit are created equal: The pink and red varieties contain lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that may play a role in reducing cancer risk, and are more vitamin-rich than the white.
Grapefruit have also been touted for their supposed weight-reducing powers. Advocates of the “Grapefruit Diet”—a fad diet popular in the 1970s that involved consuming grapefruit at every meal—claimed that grapefruit contains a special fat-burning enzyme. While research has not supported this theory, at just 40 calories for one half of a medium-sized grapefruit, there’s no doubt this nutrient-packed super fruit is a great option for those watching their weight.
Buy · Store · Grow
Don’t attempt to grow a grapefruit tree in your backyard in New Jersey—the fruit thrives in warm, subtropical climates. Luckily, you can purchase grapefruit at your local grocery store year-round, and right now is the height of the grapefruit season, when they are ripe and contain the most antioxidants, according to research. Choose a grapefruit that is glossy, smooth and round and heavy for its size, steering clear of those with brown or soft spots. Store grapefruit at room temperature for up to a week, or in your refrigerator for up to eight weeks. Let grapefruit warm to room temperature before consuming, whether you prefer to scoop yours out with a spoon or slice it into wedges.
Recipe: Grapefruit chicken satay salad
2 large pink or ruby-red grapefruits
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into 1/4-inch-thick strips
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup smooth natural peanut butter
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon hot sauce or to taste
8 cups roughly chopped romaine lettuce (about 2 hearts)
1 cup sliced radishes (about 8 radishes)
- With a sharp knife, remove the peel and white pith from grapefruits and discard.
- Cut the grapefruit segments from the surrounding membranes, letting them drop into a small bowl.
- Working over a large bowl, squeeze the remaining membranes to extract the juice. Set the segments and juice aside separately.
- Position rack in upper third of oven; preheat broiler. Line a broiler pan or baking sheet with foil.
- Toss chicken, dry mustard, garlic powder, cinnamon, coriander, ginger, pepper and salt in a large bowl until the chicken is well coated. Place on the prepared pan in a single layer.
- Broil the chicken until cooked through, about 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, whisk peanut butter, soy sauce, sugar and hot sauce into the reserved grapefruit juice until smooth. Add the cooked chicken and lettuce; toss to combine.
- Serve the salad topped with radishes and the reserved grapefruit segments.