Characteristics of grapefruit
Grapefruits are the fruits of grapefruit (Citrus x paradisi) an evergreen tree of Rutaceae family up to 8 m high.
Grapefruit flowers appear solitary or in clusters, rather large.
Although primitive varieties have many seeds, those which are sold today have few or almost none.
Within the family of Rutaceae citrus are the most popular plants. They are included in the genus Citrus where grapefruit belongs.
The general opinion is that grapefruit is a hybrid fruit that was formed by a cross betwen the orange (Citrus sinensis) and Pomelo, also called pumelo or shaddock (Citrus maxima), a tree that produces a kind of old and monstrous lemon that can weigh up to 10 kg, with an average weight of about 4.5 kilograms. MacFayden James, in his book Flora of Jamaica, called grapefruit a different species of shaddock for the first time in 1837.
Although the most common variety has a yellowish greenish pulp, other varieties can offer pink, red or white pulp, with different degrees of acidity and sweetness. (More information about grapefruit varieties)
History of grapefruit
The origin of grapefruit is centered in the East Indies and Polynesia, as it has been reported by many writers and botanists of early nineteenth century in places like Jamaica, the Bahamas or Tahiti.
From these areas, it spread to many hot climate countries like the southern United States (Florida, Texas and California), Brazil, Israel, Mexico, Argentina, Greece, Spain, South Africa, etc.
Where can it be cultivated?
Its cultivation requires a suitable climate, being the best a subtropical one with warm temperatures in order for the fruits to ripen faster (They take about 6 or 7 months).
Adequate temperatues are also necessary so as fruits to have a thinner skin and a less acidic pulp.
In not so warm places, grapefruit fruits need more than a year to mature and develop thicker skins and a pulp with a higher level of acidity. They also prefer slightly acidic soil.
Propagation, as in the rest of citrus, is made by cuttings. Liable to many diseases such as tristeza virus, gummosis, psoriasis, bold, etc.., they are also prone to attack by many pests (mites, birds, aphids, thrips, lice, etc..)
Uses of grapefruit
Grapefruits are grown primarily for consumption. These can be eaten directly, provided that they are sweeten with honey or sugar to neutralize its high degree of acidity. More common is consuming their flesh squeezed juice, especially enhanced for the so famous "lemon diet" for diuretic, remineralizing and slimming purposes. (See more information on this diet in listing above).
Besides being eaten as a fruit or for its juice, many edible products are made from this fruit, such as grapefruit vinegar, syrups or jams.
The food industry also takes profit of the soluble fiber-pectin, citric acid and vitamin C as thickeners and preservatives. From grapefruit skin many oils are obtained which are used as flavorings. From the inner skin and pulp naringin is extracted, a flavonoid with very bitter taste used for flavoring bitter tonic beverages, candy, ice cream, bakery, etc.. Lately, it is being used to prevent vegetable oils to become rancid.
In animal nutrition, grapefruit waste is converted into molasses, which are used as an ingredient for fodder. Grapefruit skins, once purified, can feed livestock.
We can obtain vegetable oil from grapefruit seeds. This must be refined to become a high quality oil, very similar to olive oil and, highly recommended for human consumption. We should also mention the grapefruit seed extract, a product with bacterial, fungal, and antiparasitic properties widely used in natural medicine
More information on grapefruuit properties in the listing above
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This material is for informational purposes only. In case of doubt, consult the doctor.