Although citrus fruits aren't native to Florida, they've been grown there for centuries, having been introduced by explorer Christopher Columbus in 1493. The first grapefruit grove in Florida followed in 1823, planted by Odet Phillippe. Depending on the variety and the weather, Florida grapefruit season lasts several months and generates both the delicious fruits and products, such as juice and extracts.
Duncan grapefruit, also known as Bowen grapefruit, grow throughout central and southern Florida and mature between October and June each year, with November through May being the peak months. This variety has yellow-fleshed fruit with lots of seeds. Duncan grapefruit trees produce large numbers of fruit and can resist low temperatures better than other varieties.
Red grapefruit are yellow on the outside with just a slight pink tint, but when you cut them open, you'll see a juicy pink or red flesh and fewer seeds than Duncan grapefruit. Some red grapefruit contain no seeds. Look for red grapefruit in Florida between October and May.
Marsh White Grapefruit
Marsh White grapefruit have light yellow skin and a nearly colorless flesh with almost no seeds. The thin skin of this variety makes the fruit easy to peel and eat. The Marsh White is the most prevalent cultivated variety in Florida. Find mature Marsh white grapefruit in Florida starting in October and continuing throughout June or sometimes later. Keep freshly picked Marsh White grapefruit in the refrigerator for up to three weeks after purchase.
Nearly all grapefruit in Florida can be harvested as early as September or October, but they may still appear green on the trees. Commercial growers spray green grapefruit ready to eat with a de-greening solution. Although grapefruit are ready to pick in October, the fruit can stay on the tree for a few months. They'll grow in size and the skin takes on its characteristic hue over that time. Once harvested, grapefruit last up to one week at room temperature and two or three weeks in a refrigerator.
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Andrea Lott Haney writes articles and training materials for food industry publications. Having studied foodservice sanitation, nutrition and menu planning at Purdue University, Lott Haney has more than 10 years of experience as a catering and event planner for luxury hotels and currently tours the Midwest as a corporate customer service trainer and consultant.