It’s not entirely clear where grapefruit originated, but one thing is certain: Ruby Reds are native Texans. Back before the Roosevelt administration (the first one), all grapefruit was of a paler persuasion. But because these golden spheres of goodness don’t cross-pollinate, mutant offspring eventually appeared and really hit the sweet spot. The red variety—born of a mutation found on a pink-grapefruit tree in McAllen in 1929—has a skin like an Amarillo sunset. The flaming fruit flourishes in the temperate Rio Grande Valley’s sandy soils, its striking crimson flesh tinted from the antioxidant lycopene, also found in tomatoes.
A bit more citrus history 101: in 1934 the state’s beloved produce was the first grapefruit to be granted a U.S. patent, under the name Ruby Red. And in the early nineties it was designated the official fruit of the Lone Star State.
Impressed by its giant size and juicy countenance, one New York Times writer declared the Texas version “summer sunshine flooding into [his] winterbound kitchen.” Yet the dimpled orbs are more than a delicious way to survive the winter months; they have come to symbolize Texas itself—after all, everything is bigger and better down here. So as you scoop out wedges unadorned or slurp the lovely juice with a high-brow tequila, remember that Ruby Reds are just about as Texan as you can get.
This piece is just one bit of wisdom offered in our April 2015 cover story, “Welcome to Texas!” a friendly user’s guide for our state’s most recent transplants. To read more advice, go here.