A member of the citrus family, grapefruit is named for the way the fruit grows in grapelike clusters in the tree. Three varieties are commonly available: pink, white and ruby red. And while they're available in supermarkets all year round, typically imported from California, Florida or Mexico, peak grapefruit season is in January. Grapefruit is a great snack or breakfast side dish, but don't limit yourself -- try the recipes below for more ways to prepare this delicious sweet-tart fruit.
Selection and storage
Choose grapefruit that are heavy for their size -- they'll be the juiciest. Try to find round fruit with smooth skin that is fairly unblemished, and don't worry about ripeness, as unlike many other fruits, they're picked when already ripe. They'll keep longer in the fridge (up to a month or two, as opposed to a week or so in the fruit basket), but try to bring them to room temperature before eating, as they'll be juicier that way.
The grapefruit diet may have been just a fad, but it's true that grapefruits are a great component of a healthy diet -- they're low in calories (an average grapefruit has less than 100) and high in fibre and water content, meaning they fill you up. Like all citrus, grapefruit is known for its high levels of vitamin C -- the average grapefruit has about 80 mg, or about 90 per cent of the RDA -- and is high in potassium. Red and pink grapefruit -- but not white -- also contain high levels of vitamin A. And a number of studies have shown their health benefits: a 2004 study by the Scripps Clinic in San Diego found that eating grapefruit may help with weight loss and the prevention of diabetes, and a 2005 study by Friedrich Schiller University in Germany found that eating grapefruit regularly could help fight gum disease.
One caution: Grapefruit (both fruit and juice) has been shown to interact with some prescription drugs -- including the allergy medication Seldane and some drugs that lower blood pressure -- so make sure to check with your doctor or pharmacist about possible interactions.
The old standard is spooning out sections from half a grapefruit, but there are many more ways to prepare this fruit. Try chopping it into pieces and adding it to a fruit or vegetable salad -- its high vitamin C content makes grapefruit an excellent complement to spinach, as it will help your body absorb the iron. Freshly squeezed grapefruit juice is another delicious treat -- if it's too tart for your taste, try a half-and-half grapefruit and orange juice blend -- and a great addition to salad dressings. Or get even more creative with the recipes below.
• Grapefruit, Avocado and Spinach Salad with Papaya Dressing
• Boston Lettuce, Radish and Ruby Grapefruit Salad
• Red Grapefruit Marmalade
• Honey Grapefruit Winter Compote
• Frozen Grapefruit Mousse
• Ricotta Cheesecake with Citrus Compote
• Ruby Red Bellini Punch