Grapefruit: everything you need to know

The grapefruit tree is also called grapefruit or grapefruit and belongs to the Rutaceae family. Its fruit is known as grapefruit or grapefruit and it is a somewhat bitter fruit that emerged from the symbiosis between the sweet orange and the pampelmusa from the plantations of the Caribbean Sea. It could be said that, like most citrus fruits, it is a bittersweet fruit.

In the short period since its discovery, its consumption has greatly expanded; its fruit is consumed fresh, cooked or in juices and other preparations. Currently, commercial cultivation of grapefruit predominates in the United States, South America, and Israel.



The grapefruit (Citrus x paradisi) is a subtropical tree that does not tolerate cold, much less frost. Furthermore, it is a wind-sensitive tree and requires deep, sandy soils to develop properly. Soils without limestone and without high salinity are recommended.

The ideal environmental temperature must necessarily be warm for the fruit to ripen. In addition, the shape of the fruit itself will depend largely on the relative humidity of the environment: grapefruit from tropical areas have a flattened shape while grapefruit grown in arid areas are more spherical, similar to oranges.

Regarding its appearance, the grapefruit tree is the most vigorous tree of all the citrus species . It is evergreen, measuring five to six meters in height. It has a short trunk and not excessive dimensions but its crown is very compact.

The leaves are very simple, ovate, alternate, finely toothed, between seven and fifteen cm long, with a leathery surface and a dark green color on the upper side, located behind short, winged petioles.

Its flowers are hermaphrodite and are also large with a greenish color and its fruit, the grapefruit, can be green or yellowish, even somewhat orange in certain areas.

Grapefruit is a hesperidium about up to six inches in diameter. It is covered with a thick, substantial husk, detached from the endocarp, of a yellow or pink color, with small and very aromatic oil glands. It has eleven to fourteen carpels, extremely juicy, sweet or acid depending on the plurality, separated by membranous walls with their own bitter taste that have pulp of a color that ranges from light yellow to very intense red.

The seeds are scarce, up to 1.25 cm long, generally polyembryonic, flat, elliptical, white on the inside.

In Spain there is no great cultivation of grapefruit and it is generally imported from places like the United States. It is a very sensitive tree that needs very specific climatic conditions , hence its majority cultivation extends to certain areas, Spain being excluded from the list.

Grapefruit cultivation

Grapefruit prefers subtropical weather; Although it thrives in lower temperatures, the ripening cycle of the fruit is twice as long (thirteen months compared to the seven required in areas close to the tropics) and it acquires a thicker and more acidic skin.

Humidity also influences; the perfect rainfall is around one thousand mm per year, distributed regularly throughout the year. The tree accepts soil conditions quite well; In the case of making a graft on the basis of another citrus fruit, it will be its properties that determine the ideal soil. High salinity will harm fruit production as it reduces the volume of water taken up by the plant. Excess nitrogen or excess copper or zinc are also negative.

Commercial plantations rarely generate from seed; in the case of doing so, the means and designs used are similar to those used for orange. The most usual rootstock to be implanted is the sour orange, (Citrus aurantium), especially in partially fertile and solid soils, or partially alkaline; susceptibility to the sadness virus, however, makes it undesirable in certain areas.

The cultivation is carried out at the beginning of autumn until practically the beginning of winter; the late harvest increases the sweetness of the fruit, although it extends the fruiting cycle for the following year.

Harvesting is done mechanically or manually, the latter system being preferred to avoid damage to the fragile skin. A changed version of the stick used for the olive tree is used.

Use of grapefruit

The grapefruit fruit is eaten mostly fresh. It has gained popularity since the 19th century, when producers from Central America and Florida began to export their production to the USA. It is appreciated for its low calorific value and high content of vitamin C; It is usually eaten for breakfast, alone or subtly sweetened with honey or sugar. Sometimes it is prepared lightly baked as snacks, or it is combined with other fruits and vegetables in the salad.

In Anglo-Saxon countries the preparation in syrup is usual, such as the preparation of jams. The juice is used fresh or dried as a refreshing drink; vinegar made from it is great, if expensive. Grapefruit skin is rich in pectin, which is used in the preparation of other fruit preserves.

The essential oil obtained from the skin is rich in limonene (up to ninety percent); obtained by pressing or distillation, and once its high monoterpene content has been reduced, it is used to flavor soft drinks. Its main ingredient is nootkatone, and it also contains compounds of sesquiterpenes and oxygen. From the white part of the interior, naringin can be extracted, a bitter tonic used in nutrition.

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Robert Asprin, APD is a non-dieting Accredited Practicing Dietitian passionate about inspiring positive changes in eating and lifestyle behaviors to help improve health while nurturing relationships with food and body.

Robert Asprin

Robert Asprin, APD is a non-dieting Accredited Practicing Dietitian passionate about inspiring positive changes in eating and lifestyle behaviors to help improve health while nurturing relationships with food and body.

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