So far we’ve covered a range of common types of knives defined by what they cut, for example the bread knife, the cheese knife and the butter knife, but now we’re into the realms of more esoteric knives that are out there, but probably not in everyone’s kitchen drawer (don’t keep your good knives here – read why).
Having said that, my family had a grapefruit knife, but we seem to survive perfectly well (a few decades down the track) without one in our household and – to be honest – we survive without grapefruit full stop! But are we missing something?
A bit about grapefruit
It is believed that the forerunner of the modern grapefruit (citrus xparadisi)– the ‘pomelo’ or ‘shaddock’ – originated in South East Asia, more specifically on the island of Borneo. From there it found its way to the West Indies supposedly taken there by a sea captain named Shaddock.
Barbados may have been where the grapefruit was first created, as a cross between the pomelo and a sweet orange, and is now the island in the West Indies most closely linked to grapefruit cultivation.
Grapefruit was originally grown for home consumption, only later being exported to the US, where it became a popular breakfast option. Today the major grapefruit growers are China, the US (especially Florida, California and Texas), Mexico, South Africa and Turkey.
As with all citrus fruit, grapefruit are a good source of vitamins C and A, as well as fibre, folate and lycopene (the pink grapefruit).
Why a grapefruit knife?
Since the most common way of eating a grapefruit is to slice it in half horizontally, the problem then is how to actually get the fruit part out. This difficulty is solved by the grapefruit knife – which is serrated on both sides and slightly curved towards the bottom – and is used to separate the fruit from the skin and the pith by ‘sawing’ around the edge and then used to cut it neatly into segments.
You could use a standard small straight serrated knife, but you’d leave a little of the fruit on the bottom, which you’d then have to scrape off the skin. This invariably send the occasional droplet of juice straight into one of your eyes. The grapefruit knife makes the whole process so much easier.
Why bother with grapefruit?
To start with is the question many people have – how do I eat it? We’ve answered that question if you want to eat it the conventional way, but there’s nothing to stop you just slicing it up as if it were a orange, and it doesn’t have to be just for breakfast – it’s often added to salads, either in segments of the fruit or the juice in the dressing, or both. It’s also an ingredient in a few cocktails (check out https://www.acouplecooks.com/grapefruit-cocktails/).
One of the other characteristics of the grapefruit is its sharp taste – a bit like a cross between a lemon and an orange. This is due to the presence of high levels of naringin – a bitter ‘phytochemical’ also present in lower quantities in oranges and tomatoes.
You can feel good while eating a grapefruit though as naringin is regarded as an antioxidant, an antibacterial and an anti-inflammatory, as well as also having ‘cardioprotective’ effects.
The fruit – current prices have grapefruit at about 50% more expensive by weight than bog standard oranges, but look at what you’re getting!
The knife – we’d also not be worrying too much about getting a grapefruit knife (unless you’re a knife collector) – just slice it in half with a normal kitchen knife and then chop it into chunks and put it on your muesli. Or your cornflakes.
Mind you, it’s surprising anybody outside Barbados ever ate a grapefruit, given its old name – the’ forbidden fruit of Barbados’. Maybe they just wanted them all to themselves.