The grapefruit is a relative newcomer in culinary history. It did not come on the scene until the 18th century, when it was bred from a cross between oranges and pomelos. The second-largest citrus fruit, after the pomelo, the grapefruit is grown primarily in the United States. It has a tart, refreshing flavor and a wealth of juice. Depending on the variety, the pulp ranges in color from white to pale pink to ruby red. The peel is always yellow, although some varieties sport a pinkish blush. Many seedless varieties are available.
Choose grapefruits that are firm and heavy for their size. Avoid fruits that have soft spots or a puffy appearance. Small blemishes on the peel are generally not indicative of a poor interior.
Grapefruits can be left out at room temperature for 1 week or kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. They will be juicier and sweeter if returned to room temperature before serving.
Cut grapefruits in half along their equators. Specially designed grapefruit spoons and angled grapefruit knives, both with serrated edges, permit the drowsy morning grapefruit eater to free the juicy sections easily from the tough membranes. There are even grapefruit bowls armed with sharp points to hold the fruit in place.
Lacking any of these accoutrements, use a small, sharp knife to cut all the way around the circumference of the halved grapefruit, loosening the segments from the peel. Then cut along either side of each section to separate it from the membrane.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Kitchen Companion: The A to Z Guide to Everyday Cooking, Equipment and Ingredients (Time-Life Books, 2000)