Growing Grapefruits

Growing Grapefruits

History of Grapefruit

These trees were originally indigenous to Polynesia and East Asia. One of the parents is believed to be the pommelo. It could also be a naturally occurring hybrid of the sweet orange and the pomelo. Grapefruit has been regarded as a species since 1830 or so.

Historical records indicate this was grown in Barbados by the 1750s. Chevalier de Tussac, a French botanist, saw it in the Antilles and Jamaica in 1820. At the time, it was considered a variety of the shaddock.

Grapefruit reached Florida in the 1820s after it was introduced to the area by Count Odette Phillipe, surgeon of Napoleon’s army.

Growing Grapefruit

The spiny trees are generally larger than that of the orange. Usually 15 to 18 feet tall, they sometimes reach 20 to 40 feet. The strong growing plants have a faster growth rate than oranges. The very thick foliage tends to be oversized. Since the fruits form clusters somewhat like grapes, this supposedly accounts for the name.

Grapefruit trees need a long growing season, usually in a sub-tropical or tropical area. Although they do best in frost-free areas, certain varieties have some resistance to frost. Generally, the young trees are particularly sensitive to frost.

From bloom to harvest is eight to 14 months. This ranks as one of the largest citrus. The large fruits, 4½ inches across, are almost round and somewhat flattened. These turn yellow when ripe. The thick rind won’t have as much color in cool climates. They can remain on the tree for a long time after they ripen. The pulp can be pale yellow, white, pink, or red, depending largely on the variety. The seedless varieties, which has less rich flavor, are preferred for eating fresh. The flesh separates easily into sections.

There are a number of varieties with red flesh. These include Ruby, Webb, Thompson Seedless, Duncan, and Oroblanco. There is also a green skinned grapefruit variety. The main varieties are Marsh, which is a seedless one, and Duncan, which grew from a seed planted by Philllipe. In 1907, the first pink variety, a type of Marsh, was found.

Uses for Grapefruits

Grapefruits have come to be one of the most popular citrus fruits. By the 1880s it had become a success in Florida. These are mostly eaten fresh and canned. They’re often added to salads. These are ideal for juice and drinks. This is great for marmalade, sorbet, wine, and vinegar. The fruits are also used for seasoning and flavoring. The peel is candied.

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