Grapefruit Ethnobotany: Generous Versatility of Citus x paradisi as Food Sources and So Much More

by DerdriuMarriner

Grapefruit trees add beauty and commercial value to the landscape. In fact, all parts of a grapefruit tree have a use, of which the best known and most beloved is as a food source.

Ethnobotany studies the uses of plants by people as framed within cultural and ecological contexts.

Grapefruit trees are generous giving trees.

Every part of a grapefruit tree has a use.

The best-known and most popular usage of grapefruit trees is as a versatile food source.

But grapefruits also inspire artistic creativity.

generous grapefruit tree: branches, fruits, leaves

"Grapefruit - low angle"
"Grapefruit - low angle"

Grapefruit tree's versatile ethnobotany

 

The grapefruit tree’s inspirational role is as practical as it is creative. For example, every bit of the tree can be recycled. Grapefruit seed extracted oil is usable as a quick, odor-free household control of mildew and mold. Seed hulls then are effective in conditioning soil or, in combination with dried grapefruit pulp, for feeding cattle, which also may be fed molasses made from grapefruit packing plant waste. An essence extracted from grapefruit  flowers treats insomnia and stomach aches. Extractions from leaves act as a natural antibiotic in bolstering the immune system. The wood from branches, trunks and whole trees serves as firewood or is constructible as household fixtures. Specifically, household furnishings made from grapefruit tree wood will be attractively fine grained and yellowcolored as well as long-lasting in their plucky durability.

Creativity and practicality spill over into the grapefruit’s best known and most widespread use, as food for people who care about healthy lifestyles. Specifically, Dr. Suresh K. Balani of Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Inc. of Cambridge, Massachusetts observes:

"GRJ [grapefruit juice] is known to have antioxidant, antiseptic, cardiotonic, anti-inflammatory, anticarcinogenic, antimutagenic, and hypocholesterlemic activities." (p. 460)

For example, consuming the pulp discourages urinary disorders. At the same time, it encourages overall health through its high vitamin C content and through the hostility of its flavonone naringin to cholesterol. It is seen in helping out in weight control through the slow release of carbohydrates into the blood stream and the concomitantly more controlled impact on blood sugar levels. As part of a healthy, high protein diet, it may lead to the loss of 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms) in 10 days.

 

"Dear Delilah": track produced by Terry Melcher (February 8, 1942 –November 19, 2004) , rose to 21 in February 1968 on UK Single Chart

Grapefruit- Dear Delilah (Lyric): Uploaded to YouTube on November 23, 2007 by Jürgen Hildebrandt

Grapefruit tree uses: Creative inspiration

 

The grapefruit is as culturally current as it is environmentally conscious and gastronomically appealing in its uses. For example, Grapefruit is the name of a psychedelic pop/rock band that was based in London, England during the 1960s. The group was formed in 1967 after band guitarist and lead vocalist John Perry (born July 16, 1949) met with Terry Doran, key figure within The Beatles’ Apple Publishing Ltd. and long-time acquaintance of musical genius John Lennon, MBE (October 9, 1940 - December 8, 1980).

John hoped to convey to the public the band’s innovative musical hybridization, in the same way that his wife, visionary artist, filmmaker, musician and writer Yoko Ono (born February 18, 1933), sought to break creative and spiritual barriers with her conceptual art book, Grapefruit, in 1964. Conceptual art includes event scores, which provide information that the viewer then may or may not carry out. The information relates to actions or ideas that relate to everyday life. For example, Yoko suggests a conversation that begins with one person concurrently thinking of snow beginning to fall and ends when the other person is covered by the imaginary snowfall.

 

Reed diffusers wick soothing scents of essential grapefruit and vanilla oils

grapefruit vanilla diffuser oil
grapefruit vanilla diffuser oil

Grapefruit tree's versatile ethnobotany

 

The grapefruit tree’s inspirational role is as practical as it is creative. For example, every bit of the tree can be recycled. Grapefruit seed extracted oil is usable as a quick, odor-free household control of mildew and mold. Seed hulls then are effective in conditioning soil or, in combination with dried grapefruit pulp, for feeding cattle, which also may be fed molasses made from grapefruit packing plant waste. An essence extracted from grapefruit  flowers treats insomnia and stomach aches. Extractions from leaves act as a natural antibiotic in bolstering the immune system. The wood from branches, trunks and whole trees serves as firewood or is constructible as household fixtures. Specifically, household furnishings made from grapefruit tree wood will be attractively fine grained and yellowcolored as well as long-lasting in their plucky durability.

Creativity and practicality spill over into the grapefruit’s best known and most widespread use, as food for people who care about healthy lifestyles. Specifically, Dr. Suresh K. Balani of Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Inc. of Cambridge, Massachusetts observes:

"GRJ [grapefruit juice] is known to have antioxidant, antiseptic, cardiotonic, anti-inflammatory, anticarcinogenic, antimutagenic, and hypocholesterlemic activities." (p. 460)

For example, consuming the pulp discourages urinary disorders. At the same time, it encourages overall health through its high vitamin C content and through the hostility of its flavonone naringin to cholesterol. It is seen in helping out in weight control through the slow release of carbohydrates into the blood stream and the concomitantly more controlled impact on blood sugar levels. As part of a healthy, high protein diet, it may lead to the loss of 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms) in 10 days.

 

ribbon diagram of cytochrome P450 isozyme 3A4 , with heme group visible in center:

An important enzyme in drug metabolism, CYP3A4 is inhibited in its catalyzing functions by organic compounds in grapefruits and their juice.
Created using Accelrys DS Visualizer Pro 1.6 and the GIMP.
Created using Accelrys DS Visualizer Pro 1.6 and the GIMP.

Forbidden drug interactions or health conditions

 

Ironically, this forbidden fruit from the Caribbean has been forbidden to its devotees who are prone to kidney stones, take certain medicines or undergo hormone therapy. Specifically, Dr. Suresh Balani elaborates that "GRJ is a milieu of chemicals, including flavonoids, fruity esters, psoralen derivatives, sugars, polysaccharides, organic acids, vitamins, and minerals" (p. 445) and therefore "inhibits multiple enzymes" (p. 444) such as CYP3A4/5in the small intestine and PgP (phosphoglycolate phosphatase) in red blood cells as well as transporters such as OATP (organic anion-transporting polypeptide). Additionally, Professor R. Elaine Turner and Researcher Gail C. Rampersaud pinpoint the problematic interaction between grapefruit juice and drugs for high blood pressure or cholesterol; immunosuppression after transplant surgery; or treatment of anxiety, depression or insomnia as well as antihistamine drugs and protease inhibitors. It indeed is precisely for these reasons that, in terms of packaging and prescriptions, the United States Food and Drug Administration requires precautions or warnings for all drugs whose use is affected by interaction with grapefruit juice.

But grapefruit resilience yet may triumph. For example, Dr. Balani refers to the dissipation of grapefruit juice inhibitory effects within 72 hours after consumption of an 8 fluid ounce (240 milliliter) glass. Additionally, research findings reported by Paul Watkins, M.D., of the University of North Carolina in the May 2006 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggest that the furanocoumarins, or plant toxins, bergamottin and 6',7'-dihydroxybergamottin, can be removed from the forbidden fruit juice, which thereby becomes sweeter tasting and monstrously orange juice-like in its non-interference.

 

grapefruit halves in American country breakfast

"American Country Breakfast served around Thanksgiving 2006."
"American Country Breakfast served around Thanksgiving 2006."

Culinary panache

 

The versatile grapefruit may be incorporated into any consumer’s favorite beverage or food item at any meal or snack time throughout the day. Grapefruit's first appearance of the day often occurs at breakfast, usually as a tart juice or as a pungent fruit preserve, such as jam, jelly, or marmalade.

Recipes in which grapefruits participate represent all categories, from beverages to main dishes, from salads to soups, and from desserts to snacks. Grapefruits are especially colorful and flavorful in salads, where they team tastefully with such sumptuous ingredients as arugula, avocado, fennel, pomegranate seeds, strawberries, and walnuts. Seafood salads also welcome grapefruit sections, which complement crab, salmon, scallops, and shrimp.

 

shrimp, avocado and grapefruit salad

Restaurant du Palais Royal, Paris
Restaurant du Palais Royal, Paris

 

Main dishes featuring meat, poultry, or seafood are transformed, irresistibly, by grapefruit glazes and marinades.

Its citrusy inclusion in desserts presents creativity as well, from cakes and cookies to mignardises (a type of petit four) and pies.

For cocktails and nightcaps, grapefruits also find tantalizing expression, for example, as grapefruit margarita (with tequila and Cointreau), grapefruit mimosa (with champagne), and Greyhound (with gin or vodka). In addition, grapefruits may end the day on a non-alcoholic note as nighttime tea.

After four centuries of human interaction, therefore, the grapefruit still may be seen as forbidden fruit that is Eden-like in its irresistible appeal to any palate.

 

pink grapefruit tea

TeaGschwendner, Cameron Village tea shop, Raleigh, North Carolina
TeaGschwendner, Cameron Village tea shop, Raleigh, North Carolina

Dedication

 

This article is dedicated to the memory of my paternal grandfather, August, who added owning a grapefruit orchard in Dunedin, Florida, to his impressive list of accomplishments. Although he predeceased my birth, I know of his admirable qualities through his son, my father, and I remember grandfather August and his poetic reverence for life every time I am in the presence of grapefruits.

 

canning grapefruit juice

canning grapefruit juice USDA150
canning grapefruit juice USDA150

Acknowledgment

 

My special thanks to:

  • Talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the Internet;
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University for superior on-campus and on-line resources.

 

 

grapefruit salad with arugula, avocado, fennel, blood orange, and pomegranate seeds

grapefruit in salad
grapefruit in salad

Sources Consulted

 

Ackart, Robert. Fruits in Cooking. New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc., 1973.

Better Homes and Gardens. So Good with Fruit. Meredith Publishing Company, 1967.

Chandonnet, Ann. The Complete Fruit Cookbook. San Francisco: 101 Productions, 1972.

Citrus. Edison, New Jersey: Chartwell Books, Inc., 1992, 1997.

Dixon, Pamela. New Ways with Fresh Fruit & Vegetables. London and Boston: Faber and Faber Limited, 1973, 1981.

Hodgson, Moira. Cooking with Fruits and Nuts. Indianapolis and New York: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc., 1973.

Ono, Yoko. Grapefruit. 2nd ed. New York: Peter Owen Ltd, 1970.

Plagemann, Catherine. Fine Preserving. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1967.

Raddin, Charles S. "Grape Fruit." William Kerr Higley, ed. Birds and Nature in  Natural Colors: A Monthly Serial. Forty Illustrations by Color Photography, A Guide in the Study of Nature. Volume XV, No. 2 (February 1904): 86-87. Chicago: A.W. Mumford, 1904.

  • Available via Biodiversity Heritage Library at: http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/item/111221

Rubin, Cynthia & Jerome. The New Fruit Cookbook. Chicago: Henry Regnery Company, 1974, 1977.

Sinclair, Walton B. The Grapefruit: Its Composition, Physiology, and Products. Riverside: University of California, Division of Agricultural Sciences, 1972.

Small, Ernest. Top 100 Food Plants. Ottawa: National Research Council of Canada, 2009.

The Editors of Time-Life Books. Fruits. 1983.

Turner, R. Elaine and Gail C. Rampersaud. “Using Medications Safely: Interactions Between Grapefruit Juice and Prescription Drugs.” Gainesville: University of Florida IFAS Extension Publication #FSHN02-5, 2009.

  • Available at:  http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fs088

Waters, Alice and the Cooks of Chez Panisse in collaboration with Alan Tangren and Fritz Streiff. Chez Panisse Fruit. HarperCollins Publishers Inc., 2002.

 

grapefruit perfection

Riverside, southwestern California
Riverside, southwestern California
the end which is also the beginning
the end which is also the beginning

John Lennon hoped that Grapefruit, the band, would make it big.

The band received attention for hits such as "Dear Delilah" and "C'mon Marianne," among other songs in their repertoire.
Around Grapefruit

Back in print for the first time in nearly thirty years, here is Yoko Ono's whimsical, delightful, startling book of instructions for art and for life.

Grapefruit: A Book of Instructions and Drawings by Yoko Ono

Grapefruit scenter reed diffuser with nuances of lily of the valley and coriander blossom.

Nest diffusers are carefully crafted with the highest quality fragrance oils and are designed to continuously fill your home with a lush, memorable fragrance. Alcohol-free formula releases fragrance slowly and evenly into air for approximately 90 days.
NEST Fragrances NEST08-GF Grapefruit Scented Reed Diffuser

Orange Grove: black t-shirt

A delight for the senses: citrus groves
Orange Grove
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Me and my purrfectly purrfect Maine coon kittycat, Augusta "Gusty" Sunshine

Gusty and I thank you for reading this article and hope that our product selection interests you; Gusty Gus receives favorite treats from my commissions.
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
Updated: 08/20/2014, DerdriuMarriner
 
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DerdriuMarriner on 12/09/2013

AbbyFitz, There was definitely some kind of grapefruit connection in the rock music world of the 1960s, what with the fruit cropping up in a band and in Yoko Ono's book!
Me, too, I wish that you liked grapefruits more. They're at the top of my list of favorite fruits!

AbbyFitz on 12/09/2013

There's so much about grapefruit I didn't know. I wish I liked it more.
It's funny that someone actually thought of naming their band grapefruit.

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