Grateful for Grapefruit


When I was a kid, all grapefruit was white and wicked sour. There may have been pink ones, but I don’t remember seeing any at our house back in the ‘50s. I didn’t think I liked grapefruit that much but dutifully ate it when it was served. So the brilliant pink and sweet grapefruit we see in the market today seems like such a treat.

Citrus has to be an exception to my preference to eating locally. I have a great store of local apples in the cellar, canned peaches, and frozen strawberries, rhubarb, and blueberries, but I hanker for citrus in winter, and a big bag of pink grapefruit is a treasure. Unlike an apple, though, which you can just bite into, or a Clementine that you can zip the skin from, grapefruit have big, tough peels to battle before you get to the good stuff. Under some circumstances, laziness wins out and I grab the easy-to-eat fruit first. Here are three things to do with it, two don’t require peeling, and the third is a do-it-ahead to make it easy for when you are in a hurry.

Squeeze grapefruit and drink it. With gin or vodka. It’s pretty, pink, and called a Greyhound. Six ounces of grapefruit juice, which is just about one whole, medium sized grapefruit; two and a half ounces of gin or vodka, garnish with a piece of the peel. If it is still too sour to your taste, add a dribble of simple sugar. Ice cube or not, as you wish. No ice for me this week. Raise a toast to vitamin C.

Cut a grapefruit in half, top with light brown sugar, or jelly or jam, and broil it. Even though I have grapefruit spoons with serrated ends on them, I like to section the fruit nicely, cutting on both sides of the sections, besides running a knife around the inside of the peel, too, and when feeling very fancy, I cut out the core as well. A dollop of your favorite jam or jelly on the top will bubble and spread a little under the broiler, and the heat softens the fruit a little. It looks dressy enough to serve warm as a dessert for supper.


Eat peeled, sectioned grapefruit mixed with oranges. And apples, dried cranberries, raisins, cashews, what have you. My friend Ben Yardley in Yarmouth sections up grapefruit and oranges on the weekend and puts a jar full in the fridge for busy working weekday mornings. Then he can just spoon out some and eat it with other fruits, yogurt or just plain, with or without cereal or any other additions. It is a do-it-yourself convenience food and I found this particular dodge makes it a lot more likely I will eat it.

Greyhound Cocktail
Serves: Makes two drinks.
  • 6 ounces of grapefruit juice
  • 2 ½ ounces of gin
  • Simple syrup to taste
  1. Squeeze one grapefruit, measure and strain the grapefruit juice.
  2. Add the gin or vodka.
  3. Stir, taste, and add simple syrup if desired to taste.
  4. Divide into two cocktail glasses over ice cubes and garnish with a strip of grapefruit peel.


Sandy Oliver

About Sandy Oliver

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working Waterfront. Besides freelance food writing, she is a pioneering food historian beginning her work in 1971 at Mystic Seaport Museum, where she developed a fireplace cooking program in an 1830s house. After moving to Maine in 1988, Sandy wrote, Saltwater Foodways: New Englanders and Their Foods at Sea and Ashore in the 19th Century published in 1995. She is the author of The Food of Colonial and Federal America published in fall of 2005, and Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving History and Recipes from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie which she co-authored with Kathleen Curtin. She often speaks to historical organizations and food professional groups around the country, organizes historical dinners, and conducts classes and workshops in food history and in sustainable gardening and cooking. Sandy lives on Islesboro, an island in Penobscot where she gardens, preserves, cooks and teaches sustainable lifeways.