Grapefruit

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

grapefruit Citrus × paradisi, the refined descendant of a bigger and rougher fruit, the pomelo or shaddock. It has the distinction of being the largest citrus fruit commonly available, although a newcomer on the fruiterer’s shelves.

The first mention of the grapefruit is in 1750, by an author who called it ‘forbidden fruit’ and said that it grew in Barbados. Around 1820 a French botanist, the Chevalier de Tussac, wrote in his Flore des Antilles:

I have had the occasion to observe, at Jamaica, in the botanical garden of the Government, a variety of shaddock whose fruits, which are not bigger than a fair orange, are disposed in clusters [French ‘grappes’]; the English in Jamaica call this the ‘forbidden fruit’ or ‘smaller shaddock’.