As a little girl, I’d watch my Grandma peel citrus. With her fingers coated in the sticky juices she’d break them open and remove the membranes carefully. Most of the time I was able to visit her in Florida was during the summer but nonetheless I remember watching the tedious process of breaking down the well protected fruit and now and then popping a “bulb”, as she likes to call it, into her mouth.
When she ate citrus, she’d grab a few of the bulbs in a bowl and sprinkle with salt. She’d declare, “The salt takes a bit of the bite out of them.” Not knowing exactly what she meant by that as a child, the first time she gave me a slice of grapefruit I anticipated a sweetness, which of course I did not get.
From then on I’ve loved grapefruit, and citrus alike. Grapefruit being my first choice and then probably a variety of orange. But oh, so many varieties of grapefruits! Only this year have I truly been able to explore the diversity that the winter has to offer when the grapefruits are perfectly fresh here in Florida.
My new favorite, is the Pomelo, sometimes known as Bahama Stars or other varieties like Oro Blonco and they can vary in pulp coloring from greenish-yellow or pale-yellow to pink or red. They are only slightly sweeter and juicy compared to other varieties like for example ruby grapefruit. With a little dash of salt, these are my favorite snack!
The Pomelo however, is especially tricky to breakdown and get into the juicy bulbs! The membrane on the fruit has to be removed but it is so thick to protect the inner fruit yet the texture is light and fluffy like cotton candy. Though, not sweet at all (darn!). It takes a good deal of time to crack one of these open and get all the goodness out but once it’s done you’re left with a large bowl of grapefruit. Most of the time these babies are larger than my head!
It’s amazing that I am able to find these fresh, locally grown (literally down the street) here in Florida. I feel spoiled by the access to citrus currently, but I am certainly not complaining. The vibrant color of citrus contrasts the grey days of winter so vividly that it almost makes me wish the winter season would last longer (sorry to those of you trapped in snow!) But doesn’t a succulent piece of citrus completely brighten your day? It does mine. I love that nature provides us with all we need to thrive during each changing season. Grapefruit along with oranges are extremely high in Vitamin C which is especially essential in supporting a healthy immune system. During the winter months it can be challenging to avoid sickness, but with a little help from these citrus beauties and their Vitamin C packed fruit we can help support bodies with necessary vitamins.
Lately, I’ve become a salt addict. Especially when it comes to citrus. The salt counteracts some of the bitterness and tart to round out the flavors of the fruit just as it would in any cooking method.
Of course though, we have to be careful about the intake and be particular about the type of salt that we consume, especially if you’re hoarding it like me! I love using real salt, from Utah but I also love smoked salts and thicker sea salt for cooking and seasoning. Whatever salt you do choose be careful to note that it isn’t processed and manufactured – just as with anything else you want what naturally comes from the earth!
Salt has been known for centuries for its healing properties, both mentioned in the Bible and in several records of ancient medicine. In fact basic life cannot function without a certain amount of salt. A natural healing property, salt is used widely today for salt-baths, drinking therapy, and saline infusions.
I distinctly remember any time I had a sore throat while staying with my Grandma she’d send me and my sister to the bathroom to gargle with salt water. YUCK! At the time it was quite possibly the worst thing that could happen to me. I absolutely hated and would gag while swirling the warm salty solution in my mouth. She knew better though, because it worked every time. The salt in the water would help to ease the discomfort of the sore throat, wake up the mucous membranes and start the healing process. Usually if I did that every night for a couple of days the soreness would completely disappear.
Eating grapefruit and salt reminds me of my Grandma, of all the things I’ve learned and continue to learn from her. When I enjoy a piece of citrus it brings me to the memories I have with her, and makes me cherish the ones we continue to make today.
SEA SALT & CITRUS
My favorite citrus:
Grapefruit: Pomelo, Oro Blonco, Ruby Grapefruit
Oranges: Chinese Honey, Satsuma, Blood Orange
1. To break down a grapefruit take a small paring knife and slit the outer rind, careful not to puncture the inner flesh. Then, using your hands peel the rind away from where the knife inserted. Keep peeling until the outer rind is gone.
2. Then to break open each bulb make a slight incision again with the knife on the outer protective layer without jabbing the fruit. Then pull each outer layer away until all the fruit is clean. Serve then with a sprinkling of salt or put the fruit in an airtight container in the fridge.