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Add Zest and Detox with This Versatile Citrus Fruit Tree: Why I Love To Grow Grapefruits

By Carol Burton

With the holiday season behind us, you might be thinking about detoxing from all those indulgent lunches, brunches and dinners that bring families together. January is the perfect time to bring back refreshing, delicious and freshly squeezed grapefruit juice into your daily routine. And there's nothing better than picking the fresh citrus straight from your own garden.

I must admit, however, that I overlooked grapefruit when I was a novice gardener.

I had the usual favorites of the best sellers from Urban Harvest's Annual Fruit Tree sale, which this year is on Saturday, January 14 from 9 am to 1 pm. Everyone’s favorite citrus are the sweet and tangy mandarins and satsumas. On the other hand, I did not care for grapefruit due to the slight bitterness from nangarine flavonoids.

The Rio Valley of Texas has specialized in producing sweeter pink fleshed grapefruits with the Rio and Ruby Red varieties. With more gardening experience and the aim to add more variety to my garden — and thoughts of satisfying the taste buds of my family members who did not care for too sweet fruit — I purchased a Ruby Red grapefruit tree five years ago. Week after week, during the holiday and winter season, this easy to care for and productive tree has been a delight in my garden and on my breakfast table!

A grapefruit tree makes a visual statement in the yard and enhances wildlife. It is a large tree and the growth habitat is upright. It adds to the biodiversity of the environment and is a pleasure to see the tree become a home to a family of doves. It is also a host plant for the swallowtail butterfly. I have a tiny yard and keep mine lightly pruned to stay compact.

At this year's fruit tree sale, we will also offer a dwarf grapefruit which is excellent for patio gardens. Grapefruit trees are the most cold hardy citrus and fares fine in the lower 20s. I do not have to worry when our temperatures start to dip below freezing. I leave the fruit on the tree for nature’s perfect storage and when you pick it on a cold day, it is surprisingly nicely chilled!

On holiday mornings, I gather a few as a ritual to greet the day. I pick a few for the breakfast table, snack, garnish or salad!

For two glasses of juice, harvest four grapefruits. One medium size Rio Red grapefruit produces about one cup of juice. Just ½ cup of a grapefruit provides 70% of a daily serving of vitamin C. Slice the fruit in half, pick out seeds and then squeeze on a juicer. Pour into a visually appealing wine glass and enjoy!

If desired, garnish with a slice of grapefruit, fresh mint, or a slice of kumquat. Explore the nutritional content of grapefruit and recipes here at the USDA’s website.

Consider a grapefruit tree and ring in your new year with a healthy morning ritual for years to come!

For more information about this year's Fruit Tree Sale, visit our Facebook Event Page

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