The classic breakfast staple, the grapefruit, is the fruit of January and I’m all about this big yellow ball of tanginess these days. Yellow, pink and ruby red varieties are regally sitting in the produce aisle beckoning me. Greedily, I pick up one, two, three — okay, maybe more than I can count on one hand.
I used to think they made their appearance in January because they are linked to weight loss and fad diets, but that is not true. In the southern states of the United States, grapefruit season is at its peak right now, which means mouth puckering juicy plump slices waiting to be enjoyed!
The grapefruit, not even 300 years old, is just a kid in the world of fruits. It is a bitter-sweet offspring of the pomelo and the sweet orange. Originally known as “the forbidden fruit”, it wasn’t until the 1800s that a Jamaican farmer called it “grapefruit” when he noticed that they grew in grape-like clusters.
Like all citrus, grapefruit are exceptionally low in calories yet packed with an impressive range of nutrients and disease-fighting phytochemicals. Most notably, grapefruit offers a healthy dose of vitamin C, as well as an appreciable amount of fiber.
Grapefruit is picked and shipped ripe, so choosing an unripe one is no worry. Look for a round, or slightly flattened, grapefruit, which feels heavy in the hand for its size, with a firm, and shiny skin.
One thing that grapefruit doesn’t have in their favour is that they are tedious and somewhat messy to cut and section. If you could just grab one from the fruit bowl and eat it, in my opinion, they would be crowned the king of all winter fruits! The key to having a good grapefruit eating experience is to avoid the bitter, hard-to-chew “walls” separating the sweet, juicy grapefruit’s segments. Avoiding a squirt or two in the eye is an added bonus!
So how do you conveniently eat a grapefruit? Most of us have probably tried the nifty serrated spoons. I found that they are an enormous waste, and that I could not really release the grapefruit from its peel very cleanly. Even though I do have a few of these spoons rattling around in the cutlery drawer, I have learned that the easiest way to get clean sections of grapefruits is to use a very sharp knife.
First slice off top and bottom of the fruit with a knife, aiming to cut through the peel and just down to the outer membranes. Next, cut off the outer peel in the same way until you have yourself a naked grapefruit. Now, insert your knife blade between the flesh of one section and its outer membrane, and gently cut to the “core” of the fruit. When the blade hits the relatively hard center, rotate the blade toward the other side of the section. You might need to saw just a bit to start, but the section will lift quite easily out of its last bit of “casing” at this stage. Repeat the process with each section of the fruit. You might want to work over a bowl to catch the juices.
Having your sections without the membranes isn’t necessary (and, in fact, provides less fibre), but preparing them this way certainly highlights their color and makes for a more elegant presentation.
With their juicy texture and crisp tart taste, grapefruit are a treat during the winter months. Besides the classic breakfast staple, they really shines in a winter salad. All sorts of delicate salad greens — endive, red leaf lettuce romaine, arugula, continue to thrive in winter and make a dramatic dark background to the ruby red grapefruit segments. The citrus tang of the fruit also pairs well with a creamy textured avocado and other citrus fruit, like oranges and tangerines that are abundant at the stores. To help with the “salad isn’t winter food” dilemma, make sure all ingredients are at room temperature
In my kitchen, the delicate segments and sweetly tart juice are also finding their way into savory preparations. If you are looking into including grapefruit into the main meal consider soaking breadcrumbs in freshly squeezed grapefruit juice to make a breading for fish or meats. Stir-fry pork cutlets or seafood with slices of grapefruit to add a citrus flavor to meats. Like a Hawaiian pizza which includes small slices of pineapple, add small slices of grapefruit to a homemade pizza.
For a super simple dessert on chilly nights how about some baked grapefruit! Cut a grapefruit in half. Loosen the segments inside with a paring knife but don’t remove them. Into each half place about a tablespoon of butter, some cinnamon and some raw brown sugar. Bake on a baking sheet at 350 degrees until the grapefruit is warm and the butter and sugar mixture is melted into the segments. Then remove the fruit from the oven and serve. A fabulous baked grapefruit dessert is far healthier than cake or cookies!
Try the grapefruit recipes below and discover how the once classic breakfast staple is juicing up desserts and entrees!
Mango, Orange, Grapefruit, Avocado and Pistachio Salad
1 head romaine lettuce, chopped
1/2 cup balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing
3/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
2 mangos, peeled and sliced
2 grapefruit, sectioned
2 oranges, sectioned
2 avocados – peeled, pitted and diced
1/2 cup shelled pistachios, coarsely chopped
Toss the romaine lettuce with the balsamic vinaigrette and blue cheese crumbles. Place into a large salad bowl. Arrange the mango, grapefruit, orange, and avocado over the salad in a lovely pattern. Sprinkle with chopped pistachios to serve.
Pork Grapefruit stir-fry
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 cup thawed grapefruit juice concentrate
3/4 cup water
3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
3 cups sliced zucchini
1 medium sweet red or green pepper, julienned
1 tablespoon canola oil
1-1/2 pounds pork tenderloin, cut into thin strips
3 medium grapefruit, peeled and sectioned
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted
Hot cooked rice
In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch, grapefruit juice concentrate, water, soy sauce, honey and ginger; set aside. In a skillet or wok, stir-fry zucchini and red pepper in oil over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes or until crisp-tender. Remove and keep warm. Add half of the pork; stir-fry for 4 minutes or until no longer pink. Remove and keep warm. Repeat with remaining pork. Remove and keep warm.
Add sauce to skillet; bring to a boil. Cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Return pork and vegetables to pan; stir until coated. Gently stir in grapefruit. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve over rice.
2 large pink grapefruits
1/2-1 L vanilla ice cream
3 large egg whites
1/3 cup sugar
Cut the grapefruits in half crosswise and remove all the flesh with a spoon. Roughly chop it. Divide the mixture back between the hollowed-out shells. Top each with a large scoop of ice cream and place on a sheet in the freezer while you make the meringue. Preheat the oven to 450F, or preheat the broiler.
To make the meringue, beat the egg whites in a clean bowl with an electric mixer until foamy. Gradually beat in the sugar, adding a bit at a time until the mixture holds stiff, glossy peaks. Spread over each grapefruit half, covering the ice cream. Run under the broiler for 2-3 minutes, or bake at 450F for 4-5 minutes, until the meringue turns golden. Serve immediately. Serves
Madhu Badoni is a Red Deer-based freelance food writer. She can be reached at email@example.com. Watch for Madhu’s Masala-Mix blog on bprda.wpengine.com