The name “grapefruit” originated in the West Indies in the eighteenth century, perhaps because of the fact that its fruit grows in clusters of three to twelve or more, similar to grape clusters. This citrus fruit was cultivated more than 4000 years ago in India and Malaysia, but it was not until the sixteenth century that it was introduced to this country by the Spaniards. For many years it was not popular because of its slightly bitter taste. From 1880 to 1885 a group of Florida grapefruit growers shipped crates of the fruit to Philadelphia and New York and encouraged people to try it. In about 1915 the commercial sale of grapefruit expanded, until its production spread into three other states—California, Arizona, and Texas.
The United States furnishes about 97 percent of the world’s supply of grapefruit, and Florida and Texas together produce about 90 percent of the grapefruit grown in the United States. The Marsh seedless grapefruit is the most popular variety today.
The grapefruit tree is about the size of the orange tree and reaches a height of twenty to forty feet. Like the orange, it blooms in the spring. In California and Arizona, the fruit ripens throughout the year. Although grapefruit is available all year, it is most abundant from January through May. Grapefruit is also imported by the United States from Cuba in the late summer and early fall.
Grapefruit of good quality is firm, but springy to the touch, well-shaped, and heavy for its size—the heavier the fruit, the better. Do not choose soft, wilted, or flabby fruit. The heavy fruits are usually thin-skinned and contain more juice than those with coarse skin or those puffy or spongy to the touch.
Grapefruit often has a reddish brown color over the normal yellow, which is called “russeting.” Russeting does not affect the flavor in any way. Most of the defects found on the skin of the grapefruit are minor and do not affect the eating quality of the fruit. However, fruit with decayed spots is not desirable, as the decay usually affects the flavor. Decay may appear as a soft, discolored area on the stem end of the fruit or it may appear as a colorless area that breaks easily when pressure is applied. If the skin of the fruit appears rough, ridged, or wrinkled, it is likely to be thick-skinned.
Grapefruit is a subtropical acid fruit, and is highly alkaline in reaction. It is best eaten with other acid fruits, nuts, or milk. Eat grapefruit immediately after cutting into the rind to benefit from all of its goodness. For best digestion and assimilation, avoid eating grapefruit with sweeter fruits or with starches. The grapefruit is less acidulous than the lemon and is a good substitute when oranges or their juice cannot be tolerated, or when the alkaline reserves in the body need to be augmented.
Grapefruit is rich in vitamins C and B1, and is a good source of vitamin B12. It is low in calories, which makes it a good drink on a reducing diet. There is less sugar in grapefruit than in oranges. Eat the sun-ripened fruit when possible, as this fruit needs no sweetening, and is better for you. If sweetening is necessary, use a little honey.
Grapefruit is very rich in citric acids and their salts, and in potassium and calcium. Use it often in combination with meats, because grapefruit juice is excellent as an aid in the digestion of meats. However, avoid the overuse of all citric acid fruits as they are a powerful dissolver of the catarrhal accumulations in the body and the elimination of too much toxic material all at once may cause boils, irritated nerves, diarrhea, and other problems. People are often so eager to get vitamins and minerals into the body that they sometimes do not consider that the powerful action of citric acid causes irritation and discomfort.
When taken right before bedtime, grapefruit is conducive to a sound sleep. A drink of grapefruit juice first thing in the morning helps prevent constipation. It is also an excellent aid in reducing fevers from colds and the flu, and seldom causes allergic reactions.
Grapefruit rind contains the very valuable vitamin P, which is an important vitamin for healthy gums and teeth. This vitamin may be extracted by simmering the rind in water for about twenty minutes. Strain, and drink.
The sour taste of grapefruit increases the flow of digestive juices in the stomach. Grapefruit served at the beginning of a meal stimulates the appetite and helps in digestion.
This fruit is also good for any hardening of body tissue, such as hardening of the liver and the arteries. It can also help prevent stone formations.
NUTRIENTS IN ONE POUND
Protein: 1.5 g
Fat: 0.6 g
Carbohydrates: 30.3 g
Calcium: 51 mg
Phosphorus: 54 mg
Iron: 0.9 mg
Vitamin A: 4770 I.U.
Thiamine: 0.11 mg
Riboflavin: 0.06 mg
Niacin: 0.06 mg
Ascorbic acid: 12 mg