- Author: Pamela M. Geisel
One of my favorite "grapefruit" varieties is one that is similar to my Marsh but sweeter and has an earlier harvest period. It is a "Cocktail" hybrid. However, it really isn’t a grapefruit at all but rather a hybrid of a mandarin and a sweet pummelo. Its juice and fruit are so sweet and delicious. It does have seeds but the flavor is amazing and truly worth planting in the garden for its wonderful juice as well as for fresh eating. It begins to ripen in January and will hang on the tree through March.
Another great variety with an even earlier harvest period is a grapefruit called "Oro Blanco." Oro Blanco is a hybrid between a white grapefruit and a sweet pummelo and was introduced in 1980. This one is also very sweet, but it is seedless and has a much earlier harvest period, from December to March. The only thing that may be a bit off putting is that it has a greenish yellow rind rather than the bright yellow gold of other varieties. Nonetheless, I find this one to be a winner in my book. In fact, in Citrus Variety Collection Notes at UC Riverside, it says:
"10/1988, EMN: My opinion, for what it might be worth, regarding Oroblanco vs Melogold, is this: For maximum returns as a cash crop, plant your acreage to Melogold; but save one space near your back door for a tree of Oroblanco for your own use."
Melogold is another hybrid and a sister variety to Oro Blanco. It was introduced to the industry in 1986 by the Citrus Research Station at UC Riverside. Melogold is fairly similar to Oro Blanco but the fruit is a bit larger and the rind is more yellow at maturity. Both are winners in my book. For more information on this and other citrus varieties for your garden, read the free online publication "Tried and True or Something New: Selected Citrus Varieties for the Home Gardener."
Now, what can you do with grapefruit besides just eat the fruit or squeeze the juice for breakfast? Well, there is always grapefruit and fennel salad, grapefruit sorbet, grapefruit glaze for fish, grapefruit and pomegranate juice martinis, and one of my favorites this time of year is a cranberry-grapefruit conserve that my mom used to make. Here is the recipe:
Mom’s Cranberry-Grapefruit Conserve
- One large grapefruit (red or white)
- 2 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 pound fresh or frozen cranberries
- Peel strips of the rind from the grapefruit. Include a small amount of white pith.
- In a medium saucepan, blanch the strips by bringing them to a boil over moderate/high heat. Drain and repeat once more.
- Dice the blanched peels into about ¼ inch pieces; reserve.
- Juice the grapefruit.
- Combine the grapefruit juice, cranberries, 1-1/2 cups of the sugar and 1-1/2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has reduced by half and the cranberries are cooked down, about 1-1/2 hours.
- In a medium saucepan, mix the diced blanched grapefruit peel with 1 cup of sugar and one cup of water. Bring to a boil and then simmer over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the peel is translucent, about 40 minutes. Add the peel and syrup to the cranberry mixture and simmer together over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until reduced to 3 cups, about 25 minutes. Serve at room temperature or chilled. This conserve can be stored for up to a month in the refrigerator.
Note: I like to pour the slightly warmed conserve over cream cheese to spread on crackers or I also serve it with fish or turkey.