Another pithy food memory post.

We opened a tin of grapefruit the other morning and ate it for breakfast. I commented that grapefruit might be the one thing that I might possibly enjoy more from a tin than I do fresh. Not that I don’t like it fresh, because I do – but tinned grapefruit acquires almost a caramelised tinge of flavour to it that offers some alchemy for my taste buds.

sugarMr L said that he agreed but that he also liked his grapefruit cut in half and covered in sugar and left overnight.  That took me back! For this too was the way that we were served grapefruit when I was little – the hardened sugar crust on top resisting the spoon and the juice drawn out into the bowl, each segment of fruit already loosened between the membranes before eating. Sometimes we had our grapefruit smothered in Demerara Sugar and then warmed under the grill.

spoonsBy the Sixties we had outgrown the need for added sugar, and also for loosening the fruit with a knife – we  had special serrated-edge grapefruit spoons. These were come by in an underhand manner…

Do you remember when fruits, instead of having little adhesive labels attached, were labelled with ink stamps? Our grapefruit had Jaffa printed on them in blue ink. Well, Jaffa had a promotional offer – for every so many pieces of peel with the word JAFFA printed on them, you could send in and exchange them for a spoon. The idea was to cut from the grapefruit shell just that small piece. The idea was to buy and eat a lot of grapefruit – this was after all a sales promotion.


jaffajaffaOur mother thought that these grapefruit spoons looked just the job and wanted a set for the whole family (there were five of us.) What did she do? She popped out and bought a couple of fruit, and served them up for breakfast. Then she dispatched me and my sister to find our John Bull Printing Kits… and set us to work for the afternoon, printing JAFFA all over the 4 half shells and then cutting them out, until we had enough pieces with JAFFA on them to order up half a dozen grapefruit spoons.

I was mortified.

To make up for the trauma, along came the band

I was keen. Oh, yes. Very. I was that groupie at the stage door. The City Hall in Sheffield, if I recall correctly. Or was that Badfinger…

Of course, that is straying into Apple territory and we are here to talk about Grapefruit. Let us not digress. I should however warn readers of a delicate disposition to turn away now.

Grapefruit figured largely in my life in the Seventies too. When I was expecting my daughter, Vicky, I was suffering with really awful sickness. We are not talking Morning Sickness here, we are speaking 24 hour a day uncontrollable vomiting. For months. I had medication, but could not keep it down. In those days we were clearly sturdier than the modern Royal mother-to-be… I was simply left to my own devices and I gradually faded away, losing two and a half stones in the first five months of my pregnancy.

I could not each much. I did not want to eat much. My desire for food just gradually disappeared as my brain increasingly connected food with gut-wrenching vomiting attacks.

There were only two foods that I fancied. One was tinned rice pudding, the other was grapefruit. For some reason, I took to eating my grapefruit like oranges – just peeling them and eating them whole, in segments – membrane and all. Two or three daily. I would peel them first, then pull off any pith adhering to the fruit and eat that first, often chewing the pith from the rind too (hey -some women eat coal or hot water bottles, pregnant ladies are allowed to b weird!) The rice pudding came from a family size can, which I would open and keep in the ‘fridge and eat a spoonful at a time as I was passing. I existed in this way for several weeks. Whatever I was short of in nutrients, I think I kept my Vit. C up.

Anyway, all these years on, that is still the way that I like my fresh grapefruit – whole, as a between meals snack (though only one at a time now). Never as a starter, but often from a can for breakfast. Oh, and I still enjoy the pith.


  1. February 5, 2013

    Lovely post! I had completely forgotten but now clearly remebe eating warm grapefruit from the over with sugar on top… must be a 70s thing! I have nevr treid greapefruit from a tin… must do so… might be nice without the acidity… ;o). My favourite is greapefruit juice…love freshy squeezed grapafruit juice in the morning. tat’s also another childhood memory- we used to go to Italy every summer and I remember tasting it there for the first time!

    • February 5, 2013

      Thank you, Martha. I was going to mention Grapefruit juice and the miracles that a litre can work the morning after the night before… I decided however that the topic of stomach distress had been sufficiently dealt with already.

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