Sorbet may be the perfect antidote for those sweaty days of August but my grapefruit tree wasn’t going to wait that long. By December it’s as festive as a Christmas tree, each bowed limb decorated with bright globes of yellows. Although I love grapefruit simply cut in half and sprinkled with brown sugar, it is not a viable way to consume 15 kilograms. The fastest method to preserve such a bountiful harvest is to freeze it.
Another seasonal favorite is pomelo, the thick spongy peel protecting the juice crystals within. Our tree, which still looks like a twig after almost a decade, manages to produce a single fruit each year, much larger and less bitter than the common grapefruit. It is indigenous Southeast Asia and has adapted well to the warm climate in Israel (except in my yard it seems) where both the pink and white variety are grown commercially. However, it is a tedious fruit, needing as much hands on attention as in-shell lobster or a bowl of walnuts. The largest of the citrus, it can grow as large as a bowling ball and is not something to eat on the go. To market to those who can’t be bothered to pry open its thick cocoon, supermarkets now sell only the segments, plastic wrapped and usually looking past its prime.
While my mini orchard did pretty well this year, the neighborhood tangerine trees were all attacked by the Mediterranean Fruit Fly and fared rather badly. Our new eco-loving neighbor, Amir is looking into ways to reduce their damage, perhaps using a sticky yellow board to help contain them.
Meanwhile here is a recipe which may be more suited for the summer but has all the flavors of winter.
Red grapefruit and mint sorbet using the shake method
To counter the natural bitterness of the grapefruit juice it can be mixed with sweeter varieties such as oranges or tangerines. It is ideal for making cocktails-red grapefruit mojito anyone? Although I originally tried using my ice cream maker for this, it jammed and I transferred the contents to a large airtight box.
4-5 large grapefruits
1/2 cup sugar
1 small bunch fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
An airtight box such as Tupperware
Make simple syrup by mixing the sugar with 1 cup of water (one part sugar to two parts water). Heat until small bubbles appear on the surface and the sugar is fully dissolved. Not all of the syrup needs to be used in this recipe but it can be stored in the refrigerator for another use.
Juice the grapefruits. Pour the juice into an airtight box. Add the sugar syrup, mixing well. Taste and add more syrup if preferred. Add the chopped mint and transfer to an airtight box and place in the freezer.
Every 20-25 minutes shake the box vigorously, preferably to a Latino beat. Replace in the freezer. If the juice freezes in a dense mass try firmly tapping on a hard surface to dislodge the clumps. Continue to freeze and shake until the mixture resembles a cross between a granita and sorbet.