Our history of grapefruit doesn’t start with grapefruit itself but its ancestor instead. The pumello is native to Malaysia and Indonesia. The seeds of the pumello were brought to the East Indies in 1693 from the West Indies in an English ship. It is unknown if the grapefruit is a result of a horticultural accident or if it is a natural hybrid of the orange and pumello. The first grapefruits were smaller than the ones we know today and originally went by the name of either forbidden fruit or smaller shaddock, as a shaddock was another name for the pumello.
The grapefruit eventually made it to the United States in 1823 but did not grow in popularity as other fruits did that were introduced to the area. Its thick skin was a turnoff but because the tree grew so well in certain areas, the trees remained and were grown as more of an ornamental tree than a food source. The fruit eventually received the name grapefruit because of the way that the fruit grows in clusters, similar to grapes. Many tried to change the fruit’s name to something more appealing, including the Florida Citrus Mutual organization. But all efforts failed and the the fruit is still known as a grapefruit today.
The first grapefruit nursery in the United States was planted by John A. MacDonald in Florida. His first shipments were sent to New York and Philadelphia. Demand began to increase for the fruit. The grapefruit became incredibly popular during the 1940s. There are many different varieties of grapefruit, with the Ruby Red being the most popular. These varieties came to be from mutant strains of the white grapefruit, which grew with pink or almost red colors. They were then propagated by citriculturists into the many varieties that you can find in the grocery store today. The Ruby Red was actually a chance mutation that was discovered at a Texas farm in 1929.
Where Grapefruit Trees Have Been Grown
Grapefruit was first introduced to Florida in 1823 by Count Odet Philippe. The origins of the fruit were not investigated until the 1940s so there is some uncertainty as to whether the fruit was purposely developed or was a natural hybrid. The fruit trees thrive in relatively warm conditions that need to be present both day and night. They also need well-draining soil. They are a bit tricky to grow and are best left to the professionals but if you have the room and correct conditions, a grapefruit tree in your backyard can a great treat. The trees are evergreens and can grow to be nearly 20 feet tall. The leaves are long and a glossy dark green. The trees produce white flowers which eventually bear grapefruit.
The first grapefruit nursery was started in Florida in 1870. By the late 1800s, grapefruit nurseries could be found in many southern parts of the country, including Texas. It was originally believed that it was too harsh of a climate for the trees to survive in but one grapefruit tree survived the frozen ground during a cold Texas winter. It produced fruit the following year and techniques were developed based on this single tree’s survival to enable the state to be one of the major grapefruit producers in the United States.
The countries that produce the most grapefruit today are China, United States, South Africa, Mexico, Turkey and Israel. In the United States, Florida is the major producer of the fruit, along with California, Arizona and Texas. California and Arizona are able to produce grapefruit year round. China produces pumellos today, which are considered to be the largest variety of grapefruit. They are very popular during the Chinese Lunar New Year because they resemble a full moon.
The grapefruit tree can produce up to 1500 pounds of fruit in a year but the average tree produces about 350 pounds. Over 5 million tons of grapefruit are grown throughout the world each year. A single tree can produce fruit for up to 40 years and the fruit needs to be hand-picked. No mechanical harvesting is used in grapefruit nurseries.
Grapefruit Oil Today
Today, grapefruit oil can be found in countless homes where it is used in the kitchen and throughout the home as a natural cleaner. It’s also an ingredient in many homemade medical treatments, ranging from acne creams to an anxiety treatment to a digestive aid. Grapefruit oil is available through credible online essential oil distributors and most health stores. It is also an easy essential oil to make at home. While some grapefruit nurseries produce their fruit only for consumption, areas that grow the fruit to make juice and concentrate then use the peels to make grapefruit oil.
Grapefruit oil is also currently being studied as a possible cancer treatment. Limonene, one of the main ingredients in grapefruit oil, is a monoterpene. Monoterpenes have been shown to prevent prostate, colon, liver, lung and other cancers. They also prevent the carcinogenesis process, both at the initiation and progression stages. Many have turned to essential oils, including grapefruit, as a treatment for their cancer and have experienced amazing results. While more testing is still needed, grapefruit oil may prove to be a great alternative to current cancer treatments in the near future. It should be noted that grapefruit juice has been shown to have a connection to the development of breast cancer but scientists are unsure why.
Grapefruits also interact with many different types of drugs, including etoposide, a drug that is given to patients receiving chemotherapy treatments. It also interferes with lovastatin and other cholesterol lowering drugs and cyclosporine, a drug that is given to transplant patients in an effort to lower the chances of the body rejecting a transplanted organ. Although grapefruit oil is considered to be generally safe, you should always consult with a doctor if you plan on using grapefruit oil on a regular basis, especially if you are taking any prescribed medications.