The origin of the grapefruit (C. paradisi, of the family Rutaceae) is uncertain, but it is believed to have developed in the West Indies from a cross between the sweet orange, C. sinensis, and the pummelo or shaddock, C. grandis. Shaddock is native to Thailand and Malaysia and was brought to the Barbados by a ship captain named Shaddock. Grapefruits became an important import to Europe between the two world wars.

Grapefruit is an important crop, with world production estimated at about 3.5 million metric tons in 1992; the United States produced about half (4). Florida grows more than 80% of the U.S. crop and more than 90% of the export volume. About half of the crop is processed into a variety of products. Grapefruits are divided into two major groups, the white grapefruit, with a pale yellow flesh, and the pink, or pigmented, group. The red color is due to the presence of the carotenoid lycopene, which has a very appealing pink color in fresh fruit or juice but tends to turn brownish on heat processing. Juice is the major processed product from grapefruit. Grapefruit juice sometimes contains high concentrations of limonin, which produces a bitter taste. The content of limonin is often reduced to a desirable level by a solvent-extraction debittering step, but some limonin is retained because at low levels it imparts a desirable flavor. Oil recovered from the outer layer of the skin is an important product. Grapefruit is classified along with lemons and limes as yellow citrus, as opposed to the orange citrus group. Oil from all three is used as a flavoring additive in juice products. Canned grapefruit sections are a minor product compared with juice, but they are still very popular on the consumer market. Pectin may be produced from the peels. The peels are also dried and sold as cattle feed. The peels are usually treated with lime to break down the pectin before pressing and drying. The press juice may be concentrated into citrus molasses and sold as cattle feed.

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