The Grapefruit Prophecies: Oscar Wilde foresees the future

by Teri Pizza


At the early turn of the 20th century, Oscar Wilde proclaimed the mystery behind one of Florida’s most beloved fruits when he said, “A grapefruit is just a lemon that saw an opportunity and took advantage of it.”

A quote borne from amusement, Oscar Wilde seems to have predicted the grapefruit’s future. Although he was referring to a grapefruit’s magnified resemblance to a lemon, his statement literally came true in the 1970s when Florida went into a deep freeze.

In 2010, an article in the Tampa Bay Times cited a director from Florida Citrus Mutual. He said the freeze hit the industry so hard, it drove the lemon commercial growers got out of business. Later in 2000, a citrus canker killed Florida’s lime business.

Rising above all the chaos, the grapefruit (and its growers) seized the opportunity of all of the wide open spaces, and Florida became the world’s largest grapefruit growing area in the world.

Selection Tips

Choose round, smooth fruit with shiny skins. Each grapefruit should feel firm yet springy to the touch, have a sweet aroma and be a bit heavy for its size. Color is not indicative of ripeness. Some will have a hint of red, others might “re-green.”

Store your grapefruits on the counter if you’re planning to eat in a day or two, or if you’ve got a large lot of them, a refrigerator crisper drawer will extend the fruit’s life about 2 weeks.

Section the fruit by making a few vertical scores on the peel and, using your fingers, remove the rind. Gently remove fibers and seeds.

Nutrition & Health:

Grapefruits are low in calories (42 per 100g) and rich in dietary fiber. They provide good levels of vitamin A, antioxidants and contain 100% of our needed vitamin C.

A hundred grams equal 135mg potassium, B-complex vitamins plus iron, calcium, copper and phosphorus. This wonder fruit can lower cholesterol and rev up the metabolism; and those with diabetes will be happy to know grapefruit seems to help regulate insulin. (One grapefruit contains only 6g sugar. It also has been found to be among the lowest fruits in pesticide contaminants.

Who knew?

Barbados is credited with discovering the grapefruit in the 1700s. Some say it is a hybrid of the larger and sweeter, Pomelo or a cross between a Pomelo and an orange. (The tangelo is a cross between a grapefruit and a mandarin orange.) The Ruby Red is a mutation that occurred in Texas in the early 1900s. Grapefruit got its name because they grow in clusters, like grapes. January is the month when Ruby Red hits the scene, straight from the grove. Who knows if Oscar Wilde could indeed predict the future, but our state’s citizens sure grateful that the grapefruit is here and abundant in Florida’s winter months!

Teri Pizza has authored several books, full of great tips and recipes, all of which are available through



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