Salt on Grapefruit

Would love to know where the tradition of sprinkling salt on grapefruit comes from?

Amanda Hesser
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Blissful B. March 19, 2011
The Pastry Studio blog posted a recipe today that including this quote: "Salt is very important in coaxing maximum flavor out of citrus. Add a few grains and taste. Keep adding a few more until you achieve a deeper and brighter flavor. You’ll know when you get there." The recipe is called Yogurt Mousse with Grapefruit Gelée (which I made tonight & it was delicious):
usuba D. March 9, 2011
I have found a little salt can enhance the sweetness of some foods. I always saw my grandmother put salt on the grapefruit and brown sugar on the green fried tomatoes she served us as kids. I certainly liked eating them that way, though as an adult, I do not use salt on my grapefruit anymore. I think that generation were more likely to put salt and sugar on anything, because it would make it taste better and for no other reason.
betteirene March 9, 2011
I've already talked about him once here today on pierino's dime--I might as well continue on yours.

The hillbilly I adore has many eating quirks. He salts grapefruit, Granny Smith apples (lick the apple, sprinkle with salt, then take the first bite), ice cold tomatoes and watermelon. During the summer, his porn-star mustache often looks as if it has dandruff because it's so loaded with salt from the rim of his margarita tumbler. He salts because he likes it and says it's a southern thing.

I'm half Filipino. I grew up eating sour mangoes, unripe pineapple and pomelos with salt. A common dipping sauce or a sprinkled condiment is vinegar, garlic and salt. (Our sons are Filibillies.)

The hillbilly's sister is married to a Mexican. He does incredibly flavorful things with salt and limes, salt and garlic, salt and chili, salt and guava, salt and tamarind. (Their son is a chilibilly.)

Somewhere along the line I read something about people indigenous to the tropics being more likely to be supertasters, and it could be that salt was used to cut the bitterness by tricking our taste buds into thinking something is sweeter than it really is. I'm more inclined to agree with Sam1148 and the electrolyte thing.
ChefDaddy March 9, 2011
Sorry, I don't know how the traditon of salting grapefruit came about but I just have to say my family has always put salt on melon, grapefruit and green apples. And, my grandfather during the summer would always come in from the garden with a huge tomato from the vine and an avocado at lunch time and slice it and sprinkle sugar on the tomato and salt and pepper on the avocado. He would walk around forever looking for the perfect ones. They are all from northern Italy.
Soozll March 8, 2011
I'm not sure where it came from. I would imagine since it is used as a preservative for acidic fruit, as in preserved lemons and such, it just sort of carried over from there. It mellows the acid so they don't taste so tart, too. .
Sam1148 March 8, 2011
I still think it had to have developed in a hot region, where people worked outside.
Heatstroke and Heat Exhaustion was prevented with fruits with salt; plums and salt work well together too.
Gatorade was developed in the 60's for football players in Florida..which is a high sodium/salts, citrus based drink to replace electrolytes. Fascinating stuff...but it would be hard to pin down the exact origin of grapefruit and salt (Field workers in Texas maybe?)
I couldn't find anything for the origin/history of the "Salty Dog" cocktail..which is a classic hot weather drink with grapefruit and salt.
pierino March 8, 2011
I'll have to carry this question to the test kitchen---no, Mr Starched Apron Kimball is not in the house. I love grapefruit and its offspring. A very good friend sent me some fleur de sel vanille (sea salt with vanilla flake). That was wonderful with melon. I'll have to experiment with citrus. These questions remind me of why I bother to cook.
Sam1148 March 8, 2011
I would probably guess in a tropical region. Salt and Fruits go well together in regions where there is high humidity and before air conditioning became available. Which is probably why watermelon and salt is so popular in the South.
Helen's A. March 8, 2011
I've never heard of salt on grapefruit, but my father who is 85 always sprinkles salt on bananas...
cheese1227 March 8, 2011
The Amish put sugar on their tomatoes. It's quite good.
ChefJune March 8, 2011
I've never heard of that until just this minute. I wouldn't think of it! My uncle used to put sugar on his tomatoes, and I'm not likely to do that, either. (Eeuw comes to mind.)
hardlikearmour March 8, 2011
That's a great question. I'd guess the same as Midge and cheese1227, but also wonder if it's like sprinkling salt on melon. PS. on a tangent - I highly recommend crushing some fennel seeds, mixing with sea salt, and sprinkling on watermelon once summer rolls around.
cheese1227 March 8, 2011
I think I read somewhere that it's one way to help alleviate some of the bitterness.
Midge March 8, 2011
I'm so glad you asked this Amanda! I tried to rescue my ill-fated grapefruit curd tart by sprinkling salt on it. It actually lessened the bitterness, but overall it was just plain bad.
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