The Cutting of the Grapefruit

May 4th, 2011 by Colonel Tiki

It’s no secret I adore grapefruit. I’ve even been caught, in public, saying quite embarrassing things about the depths of my love. It’s a love that cuts deep. Today I’ll show you just how deep you should cut and prepare your fruit.

I apologize, dear reader. We are at the very tail end of a glorious white grapefruit1 season, so you very likely won’t be able to get your hands on such a glorious globe as the one pictured here. Fear not! The prep advice offered below is even more appropriate when used on inferior yet widely available red varietals.

The Center Cannot Hold

The center of citrus fruit is roughly analogous to the umbilical cord; it is the highway for nourishment to reach the segments. This marvelous cell structure is responsible for the delicious contents of the fruit, yet it alone is horribly distasteful. The flavor is nearly only strong bitterness. It should be removed. It also imparts a bitter flavor outward into the fruit – the juice sacs adjacent should also be removed. You can see the area below in green on mouse-over:

How to Field-Strip a Grapefruit

So here’s how to do it:


1. Cut through the fruit at just below half, where the fruit bulges the most.


2. Cut each of these two pieces again in half, through the central column.


3. Cut these quarters in half again, carefully through the central column.


4. Here you can see the 1/8th of fruit with the column still attached.


5. Cut through the juice sacs and remove the bitter central column with adjacent sacs.


6. Each such prepared 1/8 of a normal-sized grapefruit should yield ¾oz of flavorful juice2.

And that’s how you do it! If in a hurry, only 4 cuts are needed to have a 1/8 segment, ready to juice. Grapefruit a la minute.


  1. and pomello/grapefruit []
  2. just enough for a Navy Grog! []

12 Responses to “The Cutting of the Grapefruit”

  1. Dagreb says:

    So.. that’s what those photos were for…

  2. Sunshine Tiki says:

    Luckily here in So Cal I still have a loaded tree. I could not agree more that white grapefruit is the best. Who wants a sweet grapefruit. Mahalo for the cutting tips. Usually I just juicerhem or make a huge mess.

  3. Doug Winship says:

    So, that’s what all the whinging on Twitter about finding good fruit was about…

    Actually, this is cool. I never bothered removing the center on white grapefruits before, and pretty much gave up on them, since they always seemed so bitter. I’ll have to give them another go next season.

    Are the centers of Pinks as important?

  4. Colonel Tiki says:

    Even more applicable, actually. Not only for grapefruit – Rumdood is supposed to at some point put up a post about ‘how to cut a lime’ as those who know do. It’s similar to this method. He’s actually the one who demonstrated the lime technique and I applied it thus to my Citrus of choice.

  5. Tiare says:

    To cut like this is something i learnt in a cooking school years ago and it makes wonders, you only get the nice fresh juice out! It`s appropriate for limes too i think – in some cases like caipirinhas for example, also if you wanna use lime as garnish in food, it looks so much tastier that way.

    Very nice post and i like your photographing.

  6. Out of curiosity, why are all your limes violated in the pictures? Have they all been flayed for garnish? It looks like more than that.

  7. Colonel Tiki says:

    Those have been zested with a micro planer. I can get the outer (/me pushes glasses back onto bridge of his nose) flavedo without getting too deep into the albedo that way.

  8. BonzoGal says:

    So what do you use to juice those perfect lil’ segments? A squeezer? Your mighty fist?

  9. Colonel Tiki says:

    Those pieces fit perfectly in an Orange hand-squeezer, but I use a vintage juice king:

    Here’s one that sold on etsy:

    If you look on the right of the frame in the first picture, you can see it.

  10. […] As for grapefruit juice, the question of white grapefruit vs. pink or red grapefruit has vexed me for some time…the local megamarts never seem to have white grapefruit, though I haven’t checked the farmer’s markets. The Bum insists on using white, as he deems the red and pink to be too sweet, but I’m forced to work with what I have (I’ve tried the bottled white juice before…I believe it was from concentrate, and it was absolutely terrible). In case you find a white grapefruit and would like to avoid its bitterness, check out Colonel Tiki’s Guaranteed-to-Satisfy Grapefruit Whacking Method. […]

  11. Julie says:

    I love grapefruit! I’ve never removed the central column before, though. It definitely makes the pieces look better.

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