Did your nana have a grapefruit tree smack in the middle of her neatly manicured lawn? Seems like at one time just about everybody did. More often than not these leggy, bountiful trees would cast their golden harvest unappreciated on to the lawn. If they lay there, the fruit would soften and rot, eventually to pass under the lawnmover and fling their sharp scent into the air like a citrus IED.
There were no juicers then, well not in our world. The squeezers we had were made for lemons and much too small. Besides those old grapefruit were just so lip puckeringly sour! Nobody would buy them if you tried to sell them at the side of the road. Mostly they ended up as part of the neighbourhood arsenal, lobbed over fences, at sisters and passing bike wheels.
My Dad would slice one in half and sprinkle a little sugar on top. He would leave it overnight on the top of the fridge in our cold, old Christchurch bungalow kitchen. In the morning, the sugar would have formed a small but highly sought after crust. He would cut around inside the pithy circumference for us with a small serrated knife he had customized for the purpose, and separate the juicy segments. It was a highly satisfying act of frugality and self sufficiency.
When we took over our house and old garden from my Nana-in-law’s estate there was a grapefruit tree in the back yard. Leggy and borer-ridden, it bit the dust some ten years ago, and we didn’t miss the small, hard green tinged fruit. Then last year my generous friend Tracey gave me a bag of her excess grapefruit. They were golden, juicy and very sweet and I was filled with jealous nostalgia.
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