Grapefruits are not just great for breakfast. They also produce a fabulous oil that can be used in the kitchen to add a sweet flavor to a variety of dishes, around the house as a green cleaner or in homemade body products and medical creams. Learn some interesting facts about the grapefruit tree and how it grows, and how the mysterious origins of the grapefruit eventually captured the world’s attention.
About The Grapefruit Tree
The origins of the grapefruit tree are a little mysterious. The fruit is a hybrid that originated in Barbados between the sweet orange and pumello. Whether this was done on purpose or happened naturally is unclear. It was originally known as the forbidden fruit. The grapefruit tree is an evergreen that grows to be between 15 and 20 feet tall. The leaves are long, glossy and a dark green color that can be nearly 6 inches long. The tree produces 2 inch flowers that are white with 4 petals. They then produce grapefruit, of course, which can be 4 to 6 inches in diameter. There are a variety of colors when it comes to the flesh of the fruit. The tree itself has a very rounded appearance but when the leaves are full of fruit, the branches will bend and in some cases touch the ground.
Grapefruit In History
Jamaica’s sweet orange is an ancestor of the grapefruit, along with the Indonesian pumello. There are many theories surrounding the origin of the grapefruit but the most common says that pumello seeds were brought to Jamaica by Captain Shaddock on an English ship. The grapefruit is a hybrid of these two fruits but whether it was bred by humans or nature is unknown. The fruit was first documented in 1750 and was known as the forbidden fruit. It was eventually introduced to the United States in 1823 and was relatively unknown for over a hundred years. The fruit became popular during the Great Depression as it was often given to families who were struggling but most did not know how to eat them. During the 1940s, the fruit finally found its place in homes and has remained a popular citrus fruit. It is now gaining plenty of attention due to the oil that the fruit produces.
- During the 1970s, the grapefruit diet swept the nation. It claimed that an individual could lose 10 pounds in just 12 days by either drinking 8 ounces of grapefruit juice or eating half a grapefruit with each meal. Grapefruit oil has been used as a weight loss aid and while there is limited scientific research to support the claims that it helps the pounds melt off, many swear by the fruit when they want to drop a pant size.
- Grapefruit became a staple food item after the stock market crash of 1929. During the Great Depression, families with limited income were provided with orange food stamps from the welfare board. These stamps could then be exchanged for grapefruit and other citrus fruits. The grapefruit was unknown to many families and they weren’t sure how to prepare it. The welfare board received many complaints from families who had cooked the fruit for hours and still found the consistency of the fruit difficult to chew and eat.
- Once the fruit did become popular during the 1940s, nearly every household owned a set of grapefruit spoons. These were used when the grapefruit was served cut in half. The spoons had pointed tips and edges that were serrated to allow the consumer to easily separate the flesh from the rind.
- While less common today, a grapefruit at breakfast was almost expected at one time. The fruit would be served cut in half and topped with honey, sugar or perhaps a little cinnamon, cloves or nutmeg. The fruit is not often consumed without some sort of topping, as it can be a little bitter.
- There are two main grapefruit categories, white and red. Florida claims the white Marsh, which is a seedless grapefruit while Texas is responsible for the pink and red varieties that are well known today. Every variety of grapefruit available today can be placed into these two categories.
- The amount of juice that is present in a grapefruit can tell you where it was grown. For example, a grapefruit with juicy pulp and thin skin will have come from a more humid climate while a grapefruit with a thick and rough skin along with a drier pulp will have been produced in a drier climate.
- A grapefruit is consumed just like an orange. Though it is often cut in half and scooped out of the rind, it can also be peeled and divided into segments. Most grapefruits have 10 to 12 sections in them. A grapefruit is also 75% juice. A medium sized grapefruit should give you more than a half cup of juice. Most fruits begin to lost their minerals and vitamins once broken down but grapefruit juice that has been stored correctly in the refrigerator will retain 98% of its vitamin C for nearly a week.
- Farmers don’t let any part of a grapefruit go to waste. If the grapefruit is juiced, the peels are then used to make grapefruit oil with. Once the peels are finished with, they are either used to make compost or are mixed with other ingredients to make cattle feed.
Grapefruits and Grapefruit Oil Today
Today, grapefruit oil is a common ingredient in household cleaners, perfumes and body care products. It is also a favorite oil by those who wish to use more natural ingredients in medical treatments. It can be used to treat anxiety, stress, insomnia, digestive issues and even shows promise as a cancer preventative and treatment. The main precaution to take with grapefruit oil is to avoid application before sun exposure, as it is phototoxic. The oil should always be diluted and if you have sensitive skin it should be heavily diluted. The oil should also be avoided if you take certain medications, so always speak with your physician first. If you have been searching for a great essential oil, grapefruit should be highly considered.