A Love Affair with Grapefruit

I admit that I am developing a love affair with grapefruit. Don’t get me wrong — I love many types of fruit. But there’s something particularly special about the grapefruit, particularly ruby red grapefruit. Looking at the following image, can anyone really blame me?


Try to restrain yourself from reaching out and eating this grapefruit.

I’m not sure if I can even pinpoint exactly why I like grapefruit so much. First of all, it’s a fruit that a lot of people dislike. Each of my four kids dislikes grapefruit, which is fine. When I give a section to my 19 month-old baby, she puts it briefly in her mouth and then hands the grapefruit back to me, barely chewed.

My wife has better taste. Enamored with grapefruit juice and pulp, she slices grapefruit in half and squeezes it into diet Mountain Dew. If I dice the grapefruit into little squares, I’ll add about a tablespoon of sugar on top, but for the most part, I just peel and eat grapefruit in sections.

I particularly love eating grapefruit in the morning, as it tends to make me feel alive and full of energy. Many days I will eat two grapefruit in one day — though keeping a stockpile of grapefruit to last a whole week can be difficult. The grapefruit we buy from Costco are larger than softballs. And a couple of weeks ago, my wife brought home — I kid you not — some volleyball-size grapefruit.

Eating a grapefruit just feels healthy. You know that you could eat grapefruit all day long, as many as you can consume, without worrying about the calories or fat content. In contrast, just 13 cheeto puffs is about 160 calories. In short, you could eat two grapefruit for the same caloric content as 18 cheeto puffs. Who in their right mind would choose the cheetos?

Sure, Cheetos may give you a temporary agent-orange high, which wears off nearly as soon as the Cheeto dissolves, but the grapefruit is like opening your mouth and letting  a fresh river run through your body. If you leave some of the white pith, the zinginess wakes you up. It’s almost like consuming caffeine. It keeps you awake and alert.

One drawback in eating grapefruit is that, admittedly, it’s messy. Not as messy as a mango, of course. (No fruit is messier than a mango.) But after peeling a grapefruit, it leaves a filmy residue on my hands. The residue doesn’t come off easily, even with soap or hand sanitizer. Still, the grapefruit is worth it.

After you peel a grapefruit, the sections you pull off don’t always come off cleanly, like with oranges. As a result, many of the sections tear off, showing the pulpy long strands inside. The strands are so pink, so full of juice. I often just stare at these open-faced sections with a certain awe and anticipation, especially as the juicy strands catch the light.

You may think I’m exaggerating, but I’m not. I am completely serious about grapefruit. It is the most underrated fruit of all fruits. Apples are too crunchy. Oranges too small. Bananas too soft and plain. Strawberries wither and dry up too easily. Nectarines never ripen. Peaches have too much fuzz. Grapes are too monotonous. Nothing really compares to the grapefruit. Just heft one in your hand a bit and you feel a respect for it, out of its sheer size and bulk. It is a fruit that dwarfs other fruit.

Sometimes after I split open the fruit inside, rather than peeling off sections, I just sink my teeth into the side of it, suck out the juice, and then bite off a chunk. The grapefruit is so big that you can just make your way through the fruit this way — without creating a huge mess.  You can also slurp the juice, if you have a really ripe one.

I guess another reason I like grapefruit has to do with its general rejection by so many other people. It’s cool to eat a fruit that other people dislike. And not just eat it, but to savor it like it’s the most succulent, delicious fruit on earth, and wonder why other people can’t also share in its divine taste.

I mentioned that my favorite way to prepare grapefruit is to cut it into little squares and spread it across a plate, lightly sprinkling with sugar. This method removes some of the pith, which makes the experience sweeter. You can also mix the fruit in with other types of fruit as well, such as bananas and tangerines (pictured below). This whole platter of fruit is only about 200 calories, and it fills you up for hours.

Slice up some other fruit and add it to the grapefruit for a platter of fruit.

Some people (for example, in Costa Rica) cook grapefruit, which removes the sourness. They combine the cooked grapefruit with dulce de leche to create stuffed grapefruit. I admit I’ve not yet tried this, but I plan to (as soon as I get some dulce de leche). It’s a testament to the versatility of any fruit when you can prepare it in more than a dozen ways.

Grapefruit has a rich history of medicinal purposes as well. Read through this wikipedia entry on grapefruit. Apparently grapefruit can prolong life (through its “spermadine”), inhibit certain hormone enzymes that process estrogen, battle fungus, and interact with other drugs to increase their bioavailability. It’s interesting to see the effect of this fruit on so many areas of the body. It evinces its power.

Naysayers against grapefruit will continue. They will rant and rave with utter disgust about grapefruit’s bitter, sour flavor — instead praising the sweetness of the divine orange instead. To these anti-grapefruit people, I say your tastebuds have been perverted by the over-abundance of high-fructose corn syrup and sugar in everything. Does everything have to be sweet? Do we need high fructose corn syrup in every single food item we consume, so much that without a heavy dose of sweet, we feel that something natural is bitter?

The less sugar I eat, the sweeter grapefruit tastes. Eating grapefruit provides a barometer for my taste buds, helping me realize that the more bitter grapefruit tastes, the more my tastebuds have been transformed.

I hope grapefruit and I will have a long life together — at least until another fruit takes grapefruit’s place. (Not likely.)

Next up on the food posts: “Spinach, how I love your round green leaves.”

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By Tom Johnson

I'm a technical writer working for the 41st Parameter in San Jose, California. I'm interested in topics related to technical writing, such as visual communication, API documentation, information architecture, web publishing, JavaScript, front-end design, content strategy, Jekyll, and more. Feel free to contact me with any questions.

24 thoughts on “A Love Affair with Grapefruit

  1. Chris McQueen

    I’m trying to decide whether this is a true love letter to one of the pinkier fruits or an amazing experiment in SEO. Either way, fun read.

    1. Tom Johnson

      Just a true love letter rather than SEO. I really don’t need to do SEO for grapefruit, and even googling “grapefruit” doesn’t put me on the map. I hope you’re going well and loving your google job.

  2. Aaron

    I love grapefruit too. I grew up in Mesa, Arizona where citrus is part of our heritage. My favorite way to eat GF is to cut them in half, sprinkle them lightly with salt and dig out the sections with little serrated grapefruit spoons. It’s a very satisfying, methodical treat, especially in the morning.

    Alas, my current medication forbids all grapefruit from my diet. Apparently there is a chemical in GF that exacerbates or lessens this medications effectiveness.

    1. Tom Johnson

      Sprinkle with salt? Wow, that must taste weird. :)

      Re the interaction with drugs, I didn’t realize grapefruit even had this effect until I was reading wikipedia. How odd. Those are some of the things you never consider until you’re in the specific situation, right?

  3. ketan

    One way of eating grapefruit, especially in India, is to soak the flesh in sugar overnight and eat it the next day. It tastes amazing. Of course if its alright for you to eat so much sugar.

      1. ketan

        No. Just plain sugar. The sugar will gradually dissolve in the moisture of the flesh. DO NOT add water…..it might dilute the taste and ruin the fun.
        Try giving it to your kids and they might actually start liking the fruit.

  4. Neal

    “It’s cool to eat a fruit that other people dislike.”

    Embrace the inner grapefruit hipster!

    Personally, I can’t stand the things. They’re sour, bitter, and nasty. But I also seem to be more sensitive to bitter flavors than most people, even though I try to avoid overly sweetened foods. I’m certainly happy to let you eat the ones that I’ll never touch!

  5. Laurie

    I eat a grapefruit 5 days a week. I cut it in half, and for each half I cut around the edge between the fruit and the skin, then scoop it out in 5 or 6 bites. Then I squeeze the juice out and drink that. I find it energizing and I think it’s kept me from catching other people’s sicknesses (so far).

  6. Patty

    My favorite way to eat a grapefruit is to peel it like an orange, peel off the bitter skin of each secion, and savor the sweet flesh inside each section. No bitterness, just sweet goodness (no added sugar necessary)–and one hell of a juicy mess, but totally worth it.

  7. Jeff Coatsworth

    You obviously don’t have any cholesterol issues – I love GF, but taking statins rules them out now. Darn!

  8. Blaine

    Awesome write up Tom. I couldn’t agree more. Maybe I love grapefruit so much now because I no longer consume sugary treats. I do have to say though, that for my money bananas are king when I’m really hungry. They have to be just ripe enough but not overripe (not an easy equation to satisfy always). I also like that they are not messy when I’m in a hurry or in nice clothes. Still, grapefruit rocks. Nice photos too by the way.

  9. Josh

    Thanks for sharing. I imagine the difficulty washing your hands has to do with the acidity of the fruit. Maybe use a sprinkle of baking soda as an alkaline to counterbalance the acid?

    Another grapefruit fan

  10. Jen

    I’ve been loving grapefruit lately too. This may sound bizarre, but have you tried grapefruit with a bit of brown sugar and fresh spinach leaves?

    No really, try it! :)

  11. Pingback: Trying New Things, Changing Interests | I'd Rather Be Writing

  12. Mel

    I always had the impression the residue on my hands came from the wax and chemicals they put on it. That why I actually always wash my grapefruits and oranges with a dash of dish soap to try and remove as much of it as possible before peeling it.

    And I’m with Laurie, I cut mine the same way and pour the juice on top of the flesh in a bowl. A little bit of work, but SO good.

  13. Judy Pokras

    Thanks for this piece., It’s clear that you adore grapefruit. I have found it refreshing, but I have to caveats for what you write:

    1. I would not recommend using sugar ever. Use pure stevia instead. Sugar is toxic and addictive. It’s not good for any human.

    2. Be careful when deciding whether or not to eat grapefruit or to drink its juice, as it can have harmful interactions with certain medications and supplements: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hl-vs/iyh-vsv/food-aliment/grapefruit-pamplemousse-eng.php


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