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So You Think You Don’t Like Grapefruit?

megan minnick

by Megan Minnick, Purchasing Director

We all know that grapefruit is good for us. To be specific, it’s extremely high in Vitamins C and A, low in calories and sugar, and is a great source of fiber. It’s been shown to have a myriad of health benefits, including aiding in weight loss and reducing cholesterol.

Yet, of all the citrus varieties, it’s one of the least purchased. Why don’t we eat more of this nutritious food? The answer is simple—grapefruit is bitter, due to a relatively high amount of a bitter chemical called naringin.

The good news is you don’t have to let the bitter flavor of grapefruit ruin this delicious and nutritious fruit for you, and you don’t have to douse it with sugar to do it. Here’s a few simple tips to help you turn this underappreciated fruit into one you’ll look forward to eating every day.


Choose your variety wisely

As luck would have it, January is the peak season for the sweetest, most luscious grapefruit known to humankind—the Texas Rio Star.

Texas is the home to all pink and red grapefruit varieties. The first pink variety was discovered as a natural mutation in a Texas orchard in 1920, and growers in the South Rio Grande Valley, near the Gulf Coast, have been working hard to develop even sweeter and redder varieties ever since.

The Rio Star is the pinnacle of all that development. This variety has considerably less naringin (the chemical that makes grapefruit taste bitter) than other grapefruit varieties, and more sugar. If you’ve never tried a Rio Star, you may be shocked by how un-bitter a grapefruit can taste.

We carry Rio Stars as our primary grapefruit variety during their season (December–March or April). Enjoy them now for peak flavor!


Add some salt

If even the Rio Star is too bitter for your tastes, you may automatically find yourself reaching for the sugar bowl. Not so fast. Not only does sugar add significant and non-nutritive calories, it can also overpower the naturally sweet grapefruit flavor. It may seem counter-intuitive, but a pinch of salt may be your ticket to grapefruit enjoyment.

Sweetening your grapefruit with salt is a trick that people have been using for over a hundred years. In 1946, Morton Salt even featured the unlikely pairing in advertisements. The practice has fallen out of favor as grapefruit varieties have gotten sweeter (and as we’ve all become more and more accustomed to added sugar in all of the foods we eat).

The science behind the salt is simple: ions in salt block the bitter sensors on our tongue, allowing the sweet flavors to take precedence. Try it—you’ll be amazed!


Be Imaginative

If all else fails, you can always think outside the box and try grapefruit in new ways, rather than just out of hand all by itself. Some ideas to get you started:

•For a refreshing and light breakfast, try pairing fresh grapefruit with a soft spreadable cheese, such as Driftless Honey Lavender Sheep Cheese.

•For a warmer wintertime breakfast, try halving your grapefruit and putting it under the broiler for 4-6 minutes. The heat caramelizes the flesh and brings out the fruit’s natural sugars.

•Add fresh grapefruit to any green salad. This is especially delicious if the salad includes salty ingredients such as feta cheese or smoked fish

•Pairing with bitter greens such as radicchio or dandelion greens can also bring out more natural sweetness in the grapefruit.

•Add grapefruit (or grapefruit juice) to your morning smoothie. It adds a nice refreshing flavor and complements many other fruits. Beware though, if you opt for just the juice you’re not getting any fiber from the fruit!


Wine Corner

by Pam Puckett,

Willy North Wine Buyer

La Riojana is an agricultural co-op in north-west Argentina that has over 500 members, the majority of whom are small-scale farmers with less than seven acres of land each. Willy Street Co-op became familiar with La Riojana through the National Cooperative Grocers, who began introducing co-ops across the country to their wines and olive oil. La Riojana wines and olive oil that we are carrying here at Willy Street Co-op are certified Fair Trade and the olive oil is organic. The premium price that the Fair Trade certification brings has allowed La Riojana Cooperative to provide a clean water supply and build a new school for its members’ use. West and North are currently carrying Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Malbec, a Bonarda-Malbec blend, Reserva Pinot Noir and Reserva Malbec. We are able to offer very reasonable pricing on these wines due to the relationship that the National Cooperative Grocer has with the winery.

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