Saturday, February 11, 2012

National Grapefruit Month

It's National Grapefruit Month!  Grapefruit is in season and is cheap right now.  (Oh, the wonders of buying food in season!)  2 for $1 at the farmer's market.  99 cents each at Trader Joe's or 5lbs for $4.50.  $0.69 a pound at the local grocery store.  While I've seen grapefruit as cheap as $0.25 each before, the current prices are pretty good and I've stocked up on grapefruit this month.  I've already made multiple shopping trips where I've bought grapefruits - in fact, one grocery store run was precipitated because I had eaten all my grapefruit!

I decided to honor National Grapefruit Month not only by gorging myself on the tart citrus, but also by trying the variations of grapefruit I could get my hands on.  From Trader Joe's I picked up Cocktail grapefruit, Ruby Red grapefruit, and Pummelo grapefruit and from the local store down the road, I picked up a  white grapefruit.

Most people cut their grapefruit in half and use a grapefruit knife or spoon to eat the segments.  I prefer to peel mine like oranges and eat the liths and whatever pith is still attached to them.  I don't have my citrus peelers with me, so peeling these grapefruits was a little messy.  Yes, I realize citrus peelers are a single-purpose kitchen gadget (a big no-no when living in small spaces) but if you ever make candied citrus peels, you can make some really pretty and even strips using a citrus peeler. 

On the left, you can see the four grapefruits.  The cocktail was the smallest, then the white and the ruby red, and finally the large pummelo.

So what did I think of the grapefruits?

Cocktail:  I had never heard of the cocktail grapefruit until I saw it at the store.  It is apparently not really a grapefruit, but a cross between a frua mandarin and a pummelo.  Of the four, it was hardest to peel nicely and the flesh was so juicy and soft.  Because of this, when the cocktail grapefruit was segmented, the liths didn't hold together very well.  There were a lot of large seeds, 2-3 in each segment.  For me, the cocktail grapefruit started off tasting much like a navel orange, then oddly there was a bit of a salty aftertaste.  My roommate reported the same strange salt flavor, so maybe we just got an odd batch.  I may have to try another one to see if I get the same salty flavor.  The cocktail grapefruit I had was not tart at all.

White:  This grapefruit is the basis for the grapefruit juice that one friend absolutely loves and another can't even use in mixed drinks.  For some people, white grapefruit is too sour and tart.  My white grapefruit had a "normal" grapefruit flavor, for lack of a better term.  It was a little sour and tart, but super juicy.  Again, the liths didn't stay together very well.

Peeled liths of the grapefruits, left to right: pummelo, ruby red, white, cocktail.

Ruby Red:  The history of Ruby Red grapefruit is pretty interesting, as is the importance Texas places on it.  It was the first grapefruit to be granted a US patent.  Anyhow, of the four, I liked it the best and it is the one I buy the most.  It was the easiest to peel and segment, with the liths holding together fairly well during peeling.  It had a quite a few small seeds but only a couple of larger seeds.  Flavor-wise, it was the sweetest and only a little tart.  Beautiful color and very delicious.

Pummelo: A friend recently fell in love with the pummelo and has been regularly buying it.  When she first described this citrus fruit she recently tried for the first time, I got confused because she kept calling it a "pomelo."  Turns out, it's all the same- pummelo, pumelo, pomelo...  all refer to the same large citrus fruit.  The pummelo I had was super-pithy and the liths held their shapes really well when peeled.  My roommate described the pummelo as "the apple of the citrus world," because it was almost crunchy.  It would be really good for dipping in chocolate.  The pummelo was hard to peel because of the thick skin and pith.   The pummelo was sweet, not tart at all and had a very mellow flavor.  Not nearly as juicy as the other grapefruits, I think the best way to describe the pummelo is "mild."

I've still got one of my five-pound bags of Ruby Red grapefruit left, so I'll be eating grapefruit for a little while now and that's perfectly fine with me. 

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