Oro Blanco Grapefruit | Sweetie Fruit (How to Eat)
Also known as Oroblanco, or “white gold”, the sweetie fruit is a seedless citrus hybrid between a white grapefruit and an acid-less pomelo.
The juicy result is round or oval shaped with a thicker rind than grapefruit but lacking the bitterness associated with it.
The flowery scented and mouthwatering core is coated in a bright green, chartreuse (don’t you just love this word for a color?) that turns yellow with time. You can peel the soft skin like an orange, separate the fleshy segments, discard the bitter membrane, and enjoy!
And, as the name implies, it does taste sweet. In fact people say that it’s just like a grapefruit with the sugar already added, but don’t worry, it has a low-calorie content, between 20 to 70 calories per fruit, 40 calories per 100 g. Well, isn’t that convenient? And like every citrus, it is high in Vitamin C too.
How to choose a ripe fruit
The oroblanco’s color does not give much of a clue as to how ripe the fruit is because a deep green one can be ready to eat and taste sweet. It’s the smell that is a more accurate guide. A citrus and bitter scent says it’s not yet ready while a floral and grassy fragrance alongside it feeling too heavy for its size indicates the fruit is ripe and sweet.
The skin must be shiny, unblemished, and unpuckered otherwise it can hide a dry flesh inside. When peeling the rind, which is a bit thicker than normal, save it, dry it and add it to tea pots for extra fragrance and a citrus aftertaste. The white pith, however, must be discarded as it has a bitter taste.
Oro Blanco History
The white gold of grapefruit, as some call it, didn’t have a particularly a smooth path, commercially speaking. At first oroblancos were a favorite of shoppers, given the ideal balance they have of sweetness and tartness completed by a delicious piney flavor, and sellers loved their long shelf life.
But with the deceiving green peel suggesting an unripe fruit, which in this case doesn’t apply, of course, it turned off many buyers and producers stopped planting the trees. Israeli farmers, however, good at marketing and shaping perceptions, came up with the idea of calling them Sweeties and making their greenness a selling point to distinguish them from others. The fruit began being exported to Japan, where it was very well received and went up on top of fruit preferences.
The American oroblanco
Yes, it was invented but not by God. It’s the fruitful result of a nine-year project developed at a university citrus experiment station in California, Riverside that patented it in 1981. Robert Soost and James W. Cameron began a series of test plantings before a successful variation was refined. The first clue that it doesn’t come from spontaneous flora is the missing seeds, but the bright side of the hybrid is that oroblancos are bred using traditional cross-pollination methods not GMO. We can even say that Citrus maxima x Citrus paradise, being its scientific name, is a fruit that went to college, can’t we? In the markets they are available from September to December.
Preferring to grow in subtropical and warm climates to hot valleys, oroblanco trees are hardy and they can tolerate near freezing conditions. The fruit matures early, but retains its freshness on the tree throughout its peak season. The pumelo-grapefruit hybrid is grown in California, Florida, Australia, and Israel.
Israelian Jaffa™ Sweetie
Sweetie also grows in Israel and here is known as pomelit, a compound of “pummelo” and “eshkolit”, Hebrew for ‘grapefruit’. Jaffa™ Sweetie is a similar cross breed to the preceding oroblanco, often grown in California, and the Israelian natural hybrid of grapefruit and pomelo was registered as “Sweetie” and released for sale in 1984. This one has a few large seeds, unlike its American counterpart. Oroblanco and sweetie fruit are very similar in appearance and taste, but there is some evidence that sweetie is actually a mutant of oroblanco. So, the variety that comes from this country carries the label Jaffa™ Sweetie and is a sensation in Asia, especially Japan.
Nutritional values and virus fighting
Sweetie has a high content of bioactive compounds and the most significant microelements contained per 100mg are: Calcium – 25 mg; – Phosphorus – 18 mg; – Sodium – 12 mg; – Potassium – 182 mg; – Magnesium – 11 mg.
The content of the ascorbic acid, as 45 mg per 100 gr of fruit, gives sweetie antioxidant proprieties and the amount of vitamin C contained in the whole fruit completely covers the required daily dose. Therefore, enjoying the fruit twice a week will strengthen the immune system, enabling the body to better fight off infections and viruses.
It partially satisfies the need for some other vitamins such as A, E, some B vitamins, and others. The healing properties of sweetie can be obtained by adding some slices to hot tea, which will not only acquire a magical flavor but will also become a real elixir for healing sore throats. Furthermore, this superstar fruit seems to be a useful remedy for colds, influenza, and SARS.
Nowadays essential oils are getting more and more attention and sweetie is another fruit from where they can be extracted and put to a good use. Citrus essential oils have natural invigorating properties and have been considered a natural antidepressant since ancient times.
The scent of a fresh peeled orange improves the mood and the oils can be seen when you clean the fruit and can remain on the hands as tiny oily spots. Don’t rush to clean up in the summer because this oil acts as a natural bug repellent. After a hard day’s work, soak in a nice hot tub with sweetie rinds, which are known to reduce stress and make the skin supple and feel fresh.
Other health benefits
Hebrew University scientist Dr. Shela Gorinstein and Kaplan Hospital’s Prof. Abraham Caspi showed in their research that the juice of the pomelit lowers blood cholesterol and blood sugar while increasing antioxidant activity. According to research conducted by Dr. Shela Gorinstein, Jaffa™ Sweetie also improves the chances of preventing blocked arteries and heart attacks. These findings were published by Gorinstein of the Department of Medicinal Chemistry and Natural Products at the university’s Jerusalem School of Pharmacy in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a peer-reviewed publication of the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society.
Moreover, as grapefruit fights inflammation so does sweetie by helping bring down the body edema. Because citrus primarily reacts to hidden dangerous swelling, sweetie can prevent the development of preeclampsia.
Dishes made with sweetie
That thick peel is perfect for being candied and can last up to two years, but I think you will finish them before that. They make a nice cake decoration, are a delicious ingredient in sweet breads, and even make an effective cough tea. All you need to do is blanch them three or four times in boiling water to get rid of the bitterness, changing the water each time. Finally, cook them in a syrup made of equal volumes sugar and water until they are translucent before taking them out to dry.
Sweetie is high in pectin and with its great flavor it makes an amazing marmalade that you’ll love to spread on fresh bread and pair with your favorite tea.
Oroblanco Sorbet (a recipe from The Purple Kiwi Cookbook by Karen Caplan)
This sorbet is incredibly delicious due to the low acidity of the fruit. You don’t need an ice cream maker to prepare it — a metal pan works fine.
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
3 Frieda’s oroblanco grapefruit, cut into halves
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Combine the sugar and water in a small, heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Chill in the refrigerator for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the mixture is close to room temperature.
Grate 1 teaspoon of grapefruit peel from 1 of the grapefruits. Cut all the grapefruit into halves and squeeze the juice. Pour the juice through a strainer into a large bowl. You should have about 1 and 3/4 cups of juice. Stir in the cooled sugar syrup, grapefruit peel, and lemon juice.
Freeze the mixture in an ice cream maker (or see below) according to the manufacturer’s directions. Serve, or freeze in a tightly sealed freezer container until serving time. Makes 4 servings.
Tip: To make this ice cream without an ice cream maker, freeze the fruit purée in a shallow metal pan until firm. Break up the frozen mixture with a fork. Beat with an electric mixer until fluffy. Cover the mixture and freeze again until firm. You may repeat the freezing and beating steps for a smoother, finer texture. Let it stand for 15 to 20 minutes to soften before serving.
Photo credit for sweetie photo: Genet