Love Texas grapefruit? Me, too.
I’d forgotten the story about how Ruby Red grapefruit came to be until researching one of my favorite winter fruits this week. Apparently, orange growers in Florida weren’t that interested in growing the then-bitter grapefruit that first arrived in 1823. Eventually, Texas farmers started experimenting with the crop, and in 1929, a farmer whose name seems to be lost to history discovered a one-off mutation that was bright pink.
From that single discovery, Texas now has a booming grapefruit business, growing about 10 percent of the U.S. crop. Arizona, California and Florida are the only other states with commercial grapefruit operations, but we know that those Ruby Red grapefruit — in varieties like Rio Red, Star Ruby and March Ruby — from the Rio Grande Valley are just about the best ones you’ll find.
If you live in Texas, you can walk into just about any grocery store and buy top-notch grapefruit this time of year, but if you really want to impress your friends who live elsewhere, there are a number of orchards that make it easy to ship fruit anywhere in the U.S.
A warning: These babies aren’t cheap. We’re talking like $25 for 8 grapefruit, but if you love grapefruit and don’t mind dropping the cash, this would make a really nice winter surprise for someone buried under snow up north.