Rex Union Grapefruit
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Rex Union grapefruit are rounded and slightly flattened at each end. They are medium-sized, about 7 to 9 centimeters in diameter, and have light to dark orange skin with a partial to full red blush. The medium thick rind has a slightly rough, pebbled texture and occasional striations. The pulp is light orange with a juicy consistency and few seeds. Rex Union grapefruit offer an overall semi-sweet flavor with sour nuances.
Rex Union grapefruits are available during the winter and early spring months.
Rex Union grapefruit is a hybrid variety botanically classified as Citrus x paradisi. The fruit is a naturally occurring cross between a Seville sour orange and a pomelo. Its unique color gives it the appearance of an orange with the taste of a grapefruit. In its native South Africa, the fruit is referred to as the Rex Union orange. This little known and rare fruit is making a comeback thanks in part to its inclusion in Slow Food’s Ark of Taste.
Rex Union grapefruit are an excellent source of vitamin C, fiber and thiamine. They contain potassium, phosphorus, vitamin A, and calcium, and provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.
Rex Union grapefruit are used for their juice, their pulp and the whole fruit is used for making marmalade. Top salads with sections of the fruit or add to smoothies. They pair well with avocado, watercress, feta and goat cheese, fresh herbs such as mint, rosemary and thyme, and seafood such as salmon, lobster, scallops and shrimp. Their juice offers a tart addition to marinades, dressings, sauces and beverages. They can be used in any recipe calling for grapefruit or more acidic oranges. Store Rex Union grapefruit in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.
By the beginning of the 21st century, Rex Union grapefruit were considered an endangered variety. In 2014 they were identified by the Slow Food Foundation as a unique variety in need of safeguarding against extinction. By then, less than 100 Rex Union grapefruit trees remained in the orchard where they were initially cultivated. The nearly abandoned Lemoenfontein (Dunedin) Farm, about 2 hours north west of Johannesburg, was the only place the citrus could be found. Since their involvement, Slow Food’s Presidia project has helped establish more trees, increase production, and launch artisanal processing of the Rex Union grapefruits into marmalade. Their mission is to bring public attention back to unique and endangered varieties and to ensure sustainable biodiversity.
Rex Union grapefruits were discovered in South Africa in the early 1900s. They were named after George Wellington Rex, a citrus pioneer in South Africa who was responsible for introducing many different varieties to the region. After near extinction the variety is seeing a resurgence in the area of North West South Africa where it originated. Efforts are being made to cultivate the hybrid variety in citrus regions in other countries. Budwood was sent to the Citrus Variety Collection at the University of California in Riverside in 1985. Today, Rex Union grapefruit can be found growing on the farm where they were first discovered and by one other producer. Production is expected to increase in South Africa by 2020. They are also grown on a limited scale in Southern California and are most likely spotted at the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market.
Recipes that include Rex Union Grapefruit. One is easiest, three is harder.
|Jane's Delicious Garden Blog||Rex Union Marmalad|