In Pursuit Of Organic Grapefruit

Ryan and Sarah Wooton do more than make gourmet goat cheese at Kaua‘i Kunana Dairy. Daniel Lane photos

Ryan and Sarah Wooton of Kaua’i Kunana Dairy do more than raise goats to make gourmet goat and feta cheese. The certified organic farm also grows fruit and vegetables on three acres and maintains beehives for a line of beeswax beauty products.

On a typical day Ryan can be found making guacamole, feeding chickens or giving farm tours. Sarah is busy in the on-site commercial kitchen baking cookies and quick breads using farm-fresh fruit.

What’s growing now: Apple banana, avocado, basil (Italian, purple, Thai, cinnamon and sacred), beets, breadfruit, chard, cherry tomatoes, cilantro, collard greens, eggfruit, eggplant, eggs, fresh-eating turnips, grapefruit, Hawaiian chili peppers, honey, kale, Lisbon lemon, longan, lychee, Malabar spinach, mango, mountain apple, noni, okra, oranges, papaya, parsley, pomelo, purple kaimito, purple passionfruit, radish, romaine lettuce, salad mix, soursop, sweet corn, Tahitian seedless lime, tamarind, tangelo, tangerine.

GRAPEFRUIT

Known as the shaddock until the 19th century, grapefruit got its current name because it grows in grapelike clusters. They are a natural hybrid of orange and pomelo, first discovered in Barbados. There are many varieties, and Kunana Dairy grows Star Ruby and Rio Red, which have a deep-red flesh and slightly higher levels of acid and sugar.

Grapefruit grows in clusters, like grapes

Season: Depending on how hot the growing season is, grapefruit can take anywhere from seven to 14 months from flower to fruit. With two varieties and four trees, the Wootons are able to sell grapefruit year round.

What to look for: Ripe grapefruit will have thin, taut, smooth and shiny skin. Color should be pale orange to yellow with a pink blush. Juicy grapefruit will feel heavy for their size. Gray-brown “rusting” or other skin defects are superficial and do not affect quality.

Storage: Grapefruit keep well for up to a week at room temperature and two to three weeks when refrigerated. Do not store in plastic bags because they draw moisture from the fruit and quicken spoilage. Grapefruit are slightly sweeter and juiciest when warm.

Preparation: Grapefruit segments pair well with shrimp, scallops, salmon, crabmeat, chicken, pork, beef, goat cheese, feta cheese, blue cheese, cream cheese, basil, mint, rosemary, thyme, vanilla, black pepper, caramel, white or sparkling wine, lettuce, berries, tropical fruit, avocados and peppery greens such as arugula. The aromatic oil in zest adds extra flavor. Zest before cutting, and freeze if not using right away. For a wonderful finishing salt, add 1 tablespoon of zest to 1/2 cup of sea salt and bake at 255 degrees for 70 minutes. Sprinkle over coconut milkbased curries, popcorn, green beans, asparagus, tomatoes, or as a finishing touch to spring rolls.

Ripe grapefruit on the tree

Juice makes excellent jellies, marinades, vinaigrettes, syrups and sorbets. Ryan’s favorite way to enjoy grapefruit is “juiced with a little Koloa Rum.”

Health benefits: Grapefruit is an antiviral, and because of a unique form of soluble fiber, segments lower blood cholesterol and reverse clogged arteries. It’s high in vitamin C and retards tumor growth. Pink and red grapefruit are rich sources of beta carotene and contain lycopene, a cancer-fighting compound. Ample levels of potassium help control blood pressure.

The popular grapefruit diet fizzled because it was based on an enzyme that allegedly digested fat. There are no known enzymes that will increase the rate at which the body burns fat.

Tip: Grapefruit can have a number of interactions with drugs and often increase the effective potency of compounds. If you are on medication, or exposed to high levels of toxins, check with your doctor before consuming grapefruit.

Grapefruit Granita with Dark Koloa Rum. Daniel Lane photos

Kaua’i Roots Farm Coop produce can be found at: Farmers Market: Waipa Market (Tuesdays at 2 p.m.); Kaua’i Community Market at Kaua’i Community College (Saturdays at 9:30 a.m.); Hanalei Market (Saturdays at 9:30 a.m.) For more information, call 651-5046 or visit KauaiKunanaDairy.com.

GRAPEFRUIT GRANITA

Italians enjoy a semifrozen dessert that is similar to shave ice. Granita is fat-free, easy to make and works well with a variety of fruit. Here, Ryan’s favorite grapefruit juice and Koloa Rum combination is transformed into a refreshing dessert. For a smooth texture, freeze in an ice cream machine.

* 3 1/2 cups freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
* 1 cup honey
* 1 Meyer lemon, juiced
* zest from two baseball-sized grapefruit
* Koloa Rum or champagne (optional)

Combine honey and 1/2 cup of juice in a small pan over low heat. Stir occasionally, until honey melts and combines with the juice. Add the honey mixture, remaining juice and zest to a small, shallow baking dish (metal works best) and place in the freezer.

In about 30 minutes, the edges will freeze. Stir the frozen edges toward the center with a fork. Keep doing this every 30 minutes or so, until it sets into a slushy-like texture. Cover tightly.

When ready, scrape granita into flaky crystals and scoop into sundae bowls or fun cocktail glasses. Top with a splash of your favorite rum. For a luxurious touch, use champagne instead of rum.

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