Ruby the Grapefruit Is Back in Town

December has arrived in windy, wintry fashion and I'm happy to be snug indoors, yes indeed. But with the cozy comfort from the cold comes the inevitable drying effects of indoor heating. Parched doesn't even describe the feeling. (Is this what it's like to be a porcini mushroom?)

Thankfully, hydration relief has arrived in area produce aisles. Her name is Ruby and she's from Texas. I'm talking big mama, softball-sized grapefruits with a deep red-velvet flesh that practically sparkles and quenches like nobody's business.


Say hello to Miz Ruby from Texas.(Kim O'Donnel)

The Rio Grande Valley in southern Texas is prime red grapefruit country, and I say, welcome y'all Texas gals. In stores, you'll meet Rio Star, a sweet red head, and her sister, Ruby-Sweet, whose interior is more pink and a bit more tart.

I love starting my winter days by sinking my teeth into a few Ruby grapefruit segments while my coffee's brewing. The juicy tang of its red flesh wakes up my body, surging through my blood stream like a B-12 shot and rehydrating my overnight-raisin self.

It's no surprise the grapefruit makes me feel like a million bucks. Loaded with Vitamins A and C and a good source of fiber and folate, it's also chockfull of cancer-fighting antioxidants. Earlier this year, there was talk about grapefruit's newly discovered powers of lowering cholesterol.

As I munch happily on my red grapefruit, I know there are plenty of grapefruit fans out there who eschew Ruby for Snowy, aka "the white grapefruit." Instead of Texas, the white grapefruit comes from Florida and the Caribbean, which is where the grapefruit seems to have been discovered in the first place.

If you're not as keen to slurping on a grapefruit wedge by its lonesome, consider incorporating the grapefruit into your cooking repertoire. This juicy sweet-tart loves bitter greens, such as arugula and watercress, and plays nice with other hard-to-pair vegetables such as endive, fennel and radicchio. Red onion is a great grapefruit match, and if that sounds intriguing, take it another step further with a diced fresh chile and a handful of chopped cilantro for a kicky salsa to pair up with fish or scallops.

Did you know... that the grapefruit probably got its name because it grows on trees in grape-like clusters and that its name in French is a lot sexier -- pamplemousse.

So, are you a Ruby grapefruiter or a member of the Snowy club? Or maybe grapefruit makes you run for the hills. Weigh in on this very juicy matter in the comments area below.

By Kim ODonnel |  December 4, 2006; 12:49 PM ET Seasonal Produce
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Comments

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I love Rubies but I am having a grapefruit dilemma. I am trying to eat more organic but all the organic GFs I get are awful - dry inside, not very juicy - Trader Joes, Whole Foods, Giant, Safeway... all the same. Any helpful thoughts for me?

Posted by: jp | December 4, 2006 2:32 PM

The problem has nothing to do with Organic versus "not Organic" (whatever that means).

Here's something I discovered by accident about 4 years ago: Grapefruits are sweet. Not quite orange sweet, but close, but juicier and overall a most pleasing taste.

The reason most people add sugar and have dry grapefruits is because these fruits are old. The only way I've been consistently able to get good grapefruit is to find a local church that is selling them for charity and they pay to bring up a tractor-trailer's worth from texas. You'll stuff that is less than 3 days off the tree. When you try these fruits, you'll understand that Grapefruits are probably the best fruit to enjoy (and I say this as someone who hated grapefuits for 40 years!).

Giant and other local supermarkets let citrus fruits sit there for weeks at a time. Trust me, nothing tastes good after sitting out for 3-4 weeks.

Other options would be to track down the depots that get the trucks in and then resell to local businesses. You can probably a bushel cheap from those folks.

And I've purchased fruit directly from the places in florida and texas. You can find them on the internet. But they're not cheap and it's a crap shoot as to whether they'll ship quickly enough to make sure they're fresh.

Posted by: TomK | December 4, 2006 3:29 PM

I too am very fond of the red ruby grapefruit from the Texas Rio Grande valley. Better enjoy them while you can because the orchards are probably going to be bulldozed in time to make way for progress. i.e. construction, as in Florida.

Try them on with avocados and mayo and lettuce. Wow!

Now another truly great grapefruit is the white Marsh from Florida. When I was a congregant at the Cherrydale Methodist Church, our beloved pastor, Rev. Emurian would ride herd on a truckload of the Marsh and other citrus for sale to the members. GREAT!What a Christmas tradition.

Unfortunately, here in Texas, imports of Marsh are not permitted on the ground that they might imperil the native citrus with all sorts of loathsome diseases and insects.

So Texans are protected from Florida growers but left totally exposed under Free Trade dogma to the tender mercies of the Chicoms, etc. and of course to numberless illegal aliens who also for sure are often carrying diseases of one sort or another but allowed to enter because of political, economic. and bleeding heart considerations.

But what's a born in America American to do? Migrate to Switzerland?

Posted by: Ruby Lover Too | December 4, 2006 3:39 PM

TomK: If you're close to Calvert County, MD this weekend, the local Lions Club will be selling ruby grapefruits, navel oranges and tangelos outside Wal-Mart, K-Mart and the Calvert County Market Friday through Sunday. Bushels are $25, half-bushels $13, and bags $10. These are coming up from Florida probably as we speak.

Posted by: Southern Maryland | December 4, 2006 4:00 PM

Pity us poor fans of ruby reds who have learned the hard way that we can no longer indulge our taste buds with this winter-time treat!

If you're on one of the many statin drugs for cholesterol reduction, stay VERY FAR AWAY from ruby reds! Read the fine print on your medication pamphlet and you'll see the scary warning.

If there's some "work around" to this restriction, please let me (and thousands of others) know.

Thanks!

Posted by: Outta Luck | December 4, 2006 5:13 PM

The earlier writer is SO RIGHT that folks who take statins to treat high cholesterol CANNOT EAT or DRINK ANY GRAPEFRUIT [not just ruby reds]PRODUCTS! There's a very serious warning about unwanted blood interactions, etc. According to my doc, no exceptions!

Posted by: Outa Luck 2 | December 4, 2006 5:55 PM

Unfortunately grapefruit interacts with many medications, not just statins-- for example, birth control pills.
Ask your pharmacist if you are not sure about your particular medication.

Posted by: former grapefruit lover | December 4, 2006 8:20 PM

so...in other words, a grapefruit made me pregnant?

Posted by: YIKES! | December 4, 2006 8:44 PM

No, thank God... just did some online research after panicking about grapefruit/birth control interaction. Apparently all that eating grapefruits and being on birth control does is increase your estrogen levels, not reduce the birth control's affectiveness.

Posted by: grapefruit lover | December 5, 2006 12:31 PM

Kim, from your discussion earlier -- people were very confused by your answer about the pomegranate seeds. I assume you mean that -- like most people -- you eat the red flesh of the seeds (the juicy part!) but spit out the little hard seed in the middle of the flesh. No one eats the white part of the pomegranate.

Posted by: clarifying on pomegranates | December 5, 2006 1:27 PM

Clarifying: You're right, my answer about pom seeds was confusing. In the heat of the chat moment, I was not thinking about what kind of seeds were mentioned, only about general choice between spitting and swallowing seeds. Me, I eat the whole pom seed, and like you said, avoid the white pithy part of the fruit.

Posted by: Kim O'Donnel | December 5, 2006 1:42 PM

Missed the chat but had a good idea about goose (I think). My dad always patted his dry with paper towels and then took the hairdryer to it, on a hot setting. This seals the pores on the goose and helps keep it juicy during cooking. Also good: Stuff prunes with garlic. Time-consuming, but delicious.

Posted by: Rita | December 5, 2006 2:25 PM

Pommegranite contains the same chemicals that cause grapefruits to react with certain medications, so be aware. The fad of pommegranites needs to be tempered by an understanding of its chemical composition too.

Posted by: Paul Corsa | December 5, 2006 2:30 PM

I miss grapefruits straight off the tree like we had in Arizona. About this time last year, I was getting ready to pull the first ones off the tree. There is nothing like FRESH grapefruit juice. *sigh*

Posted by: Eva | December 6, 2006 3:01 PM

I love grapefruit, too, but must be careful about when I eat it because of drug interaction. Suggest review of this WEB page from the Mayo Clinic.
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/food-and-nutrition/AN00413

Posted by: David Dean | December 7, 2006 11:48 AM

Grapefruit can have a significant impact on many prescription and non-prescription medications, but take care when making generalizations. Take the cholesterol lowering medications called "statins" for example. While as a class these medications are more similar than dissimilar, they don't all have the same adverse interactions. Atorvastatin (Lipitor), simvastatin (Zocor) and lovastatin (Mevacor) should NOT be taken within several hours of grapefruit. On the other hand, rosuvastatin (Crestor), pravastatin (Pravacol), and fluvastatin (Lescol) do not have this interaction and may be consumed at the same time as grapfruit.

Posted by: RPh | December 7, 2006 12:34 PM

does anyone have info on POMELO (grapefruits) interaction with statins? I had one today ...it was a beautiful red meaty textured sweet fruit with a very thick papery skin....Is it a rumor that they dont interact negatively with statins?

Posted by: phyllis pransky | December 30, 2006 10:09 PM

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