Friday, January 14, 2011

They ruined your cream, your chicken, your pork, and your tomatoes. Don't let them take your grapefruit away!

The food industry believes that the only grapefruit you want is red grapefruit. The state of Texas - which contributes more of the world's grapefruit crop than most countries - adopted the red grapefruit as its state fruit, and incentivizes its growth, which makes it less profitable for Texan farmers to grow the original white grapefruit. Responding to the perceived popularity of the milder, sweeter, more insipid grapefruit, Florida growers developed their own red grapefruit varieties, reducing their white grapefruit output accordingly. You rarely even see pink grapefruit anymore - a lot of them have been rebranded as red.

Red grapefruit have more special magical pigments in them that cure cancer and shingles and rainy days and mean people, so fine, there's that.

But white grapefruit - the OG original grapefruit, originally called the shaddock, a descendant of the pumelo and the sweet orange - is tarter than the pinkos, giving you the best of all citrus worlds: sweetness, juiciness, acidity, and bitterness (which is greatly reduced if you don't eat the membrane). It is my favorite fruit.

If you don't live in the citrus region, it can be hard to find out of season - and sometimes even in season - as it's less likely to be imported, despite still being the default grapefruit in the rest of the world. But right now it's in season, and cheap! 39 cents each here, though I heard they were two bucks each at Whole Foods last week.

The classic grapefruit presentation is halved, with a knife or narrow spoon used to loosen each segment half from the membrane so it can be scooped out. This is how I grew up eating grapefruit, originally adding sugar - I grew up in white grapefruit days. You can also sprinkle a little white or brown sugar on top and broil the grapefruit until the sugar caramelizes.

But it's not terribly hard to cut supremes from a grapefruit, especially when they're cheap and you don't mind some waste. Put the grapefruit on your cutting board, and slice a thin slice from each pole (where the stem or navel dent is). Then slice the rind off in strips, longitudinally:


Wicked easy, guy.

Slicing the rind off makes it easy to see where the membrane is. You just run your knife along it, at a slight angle, and the segments practically pop out.


No big whoop. Sure, it's more work than peeling a satsuma. What do you want, a medal?

Now you've got some nice grapefruit supremes to put in a salad with avocado, mint, and nut oil, or a few flecks of Sechuan buttons, or on top of your panna cotta, or what have you.

And obviously there's grapefruit juice. White grapefruit juice is an extremely flexible cocktail ingredient - goes with gin, goes with tequila, goes with whiskey, goes with rum, and it's tart enough to hold up where orange juice is typically lost. Try it with any amaro (extensive coverage of which will be an ongoing thing on this blog throughout 2011, which I am now declaring The Year Of The Amaro).

Hop to it, get on those sales.

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