Ways to Eat Grapefruit from Texas
Before the grapefruit came to Texas in the late 19th century it was little more than an exotic novelty fruit. First documented on the island of Barbados in 1750 by a Welsh naturalist, it was named grapefruit because of the way it grew in clusters, like grapes. Years later, it was discovered that the grapefruit is actually a hybrid, a cross between an Indonesian pomelo and a Jamaican orange. And since oranges didn't grow in Barbados at the time, the first grapefruit crops were almost certainly planted in Jamaica.
The fruit was brought to Florida by Spanish explorers in the early 19th century. Historians tell us that the first crops were planted by Ponce del Leon as he searched for the Fountain of Youth near St. Augustine, Florida in 1823. But the new fruit flopped in the Sunshine State, due in no small part to the fact that it was awash in oranges. Not to mention the fact that most fruit lovers found ways to eat grapefruit too difficult. For one thing, it was not a hand fruit like the orange. Secondly, sugar was considered a delicacy at the time, which meant that there nothing to offset the bitterness.
When the first crops of the failed fruit were planted in Texas, farmers were strangely optimistic. Perhaps because Texas was a new state, having only achieved statehood in 1845, and they were in need of new crops. The first grapefruit harvest was recorded in 1891 in a small region of South Texas known as the Rio Grande Valley.
Because of it fertile soil and Sub Tropical climate, the region is one of the best places to grow citrus fruit on earth. To this day, more than eighty percent of the citrus fruit production in Texas comes from the Lower Rio Grande Valley. And more than seventy percent of those crops are grapefruit.
Why did people embrace ways to eat grapefruit in Texas when they had eschewed them in Florida? Well, the truth is they didn't, at least not at first. Fruit lovers in the region had the same initial response as the folks in Florida–they thought it was too bitter and a chore to eat.
Then in 1929, a farmer discovered a grapefruit that was different from the rest. It had red flesh instead or pink or white. More importantly, it was much sweeter than its predecessors. This new variety was nothing more than a simple fruit mutation, which are quite common in citrus fruits. The orange alone has more than 600 varieties. But alterations are generally slight and tend to affect size and color rather than taste.
Dubbed the “Ruby Red,” the fruit gave rise to a massive citrus industry in Texas in less than a decade. The Ruby was so popular that the white and pink varieties of the fruit were officially banned in 1961. A few years later, the red grapefruit became the state fruit.