When it comes to citrus two states seem to get all the press. It’s the battle between Florida and California? Who is the best? In my experience neither of those places can claim hold to the king of grapefruit. Texas may not be the first state on people’s mind when you ask them about citrus, but whenever I am shopping for or recommending grapefruit, I always look for the Lone Star State. So what makes Texas grapefruit so great? It comes down to one thing passion. Texas growers are very passionate about growing the best red grapefruit money can buy.
The Start of Texas Grapefruit
Lots of people are history buffs, well I am a produce history buff. I love to hear the story of how something we come to enjoy got it’s start. The grapefruit has a great story. Grapefruit has been grown in Texas since the 1800s. It is believed that missionaries brought the first seeds to the Lone Star State. The varieties that were grown were all white and pink grapefruit at the time. Over time growers noticed some pink grapefruit that were darker than the others. This was the birth of the red grapefruit in Texas. This took place at one of the most trying times in our country, the Great Depression. What a perfect time for a much needed discovery.
Texas growers became very passionate about their new red grapefruit. A lot of work was put into developing redder varieties. To the point where red varieties became the only varieties grown in Texas. In fact in 1962, all pink and white varieties were actually banned.
Why is Red Grapefruit Better?
So what is so great about the red grapefruit? Two main reasons – flavor and sweetness. The red grapefruit has a deeper, more intense flavor than it’s less colorful cousins. It also is sweeter, which helps better balance out the grapefruit’s nature bitterness. Darker pigments in foods are seen has having greater health benefits.
What Makes Texas a Great Place to Grow Grapefruit?
Grapefruit is not grown in just any part of Texas, the major growing region is the Lower Rio Grande Valley. The climate there is sub tropical, the soil is fertile, and there is plenty of sunshine. It is located at the southern most tip of Texas, where the Rio Grande forms the border between Texas and Mexico. The “Valley” is actually not a true valley, but a flood plain.
Where to Buy Texas Red Grapefruit
Most grocery stores like Whole Foods Market do carry Texas Red Grapefruit for at least some portion of the season. Look for them in 5 pound bags. If they are loose, check the stickers, it will tell you whether they were grown in Texas. If you want some directly delivered to your door, try Pittman & Davis. They have been in the business since 1926, right when the red grapefruit began it’s development. The grapefruit they ship is of peak quality and flavor.