Taste and Eat Grapefruit from Texas
The grapefruit came to Texas shortly after the state joined the union in 1845. Because of its equable climate and arable soil, the Lone Star State became a popular destination for farmers and migrant workers from Mexico. There was just one problem–Texas was short on agricultural products. They grew cotton and raised cattle and little else. What about oil? Well, it was not discovered until the end of the 19th century.
In short, farmers in Texas desperately needed new and reliable crops. And once the transcontinental railroad was completed in the 1880s, shipping fresh fruit and vegetables out of state finally became cost effective. The first grapefruit crops were planted in 1893 in the Rio Grande Valley. This small region in South Texas is famous for its nutrient-rich soil and subtropical climate, which is needed to grow grapefruit, since they are a subtropical fruit.
But in spite of superior growing conditions, the grapefruit was not Qan overnight hit. In fact, the local population rejected it due to its sour taste. Thankfully, farmers continued to plant small grapefruit crops and sold them as an exotic fruit for many years. There was no grapefruit industry in the United States until a simple genetic mutation appeared on a pink grapefruit tree in 1929.
Like most citrus fruits, the grapefruit is prone to mutation. These mutations often result in very minor variations in the color of the fruit rind or flesh. But the mutation that appeared in 1929 was a sea change, rather than a slight alteration. For starters, the flesh was red, not pink or white. For centuries all grapefruits were white. Then sometime during the late 19th century a pink mutation appear. But the pink variety tasted exactly the same as its white predecessor.
The new red variety of grapefruit, on the other hand, tasted much different. Higher sugar content meant that the red grapefruit was sweet, not sour or bitter. This was important because sugar was considered a delicacy at the time. It was expensive and most families simply could not afford it. But with the new red grapefruit they didn't need it.
Dubbed the Texas Ruby Red, the new fruit had a meteoric rise to national fame. In less than a decade, a huge citrus industry was established in the Lone Star State. Texas would lead the nation in grapefruit production for about a decade until it was overtaken by Florida. Though growing conditions in the Rio Grande Valley are perhaps the best in the world, the acreage is quite limited.
Texas is now the third largest producer of grapefruit in the US, after Florida and California. But for people who truly love to eat grapefruit there is no substitute for the famous Ruby Red. The fruit was so popular that in 1961 the state decreed that only red grapefruit can be grown in Texas.