In the Search for the Perfect Grapefruit

 

I think I was about ten years old when grapefruits first appeared in our grocery stores. Nobody knew exactly what they were but the rumor had it they were a hybrid of orange and lemon. Since beside those two the only other citrus known to the population was mandarin, the information didn’t seem all that absurd.

Masses hadn’t appreciated the novelty: even though it was bigger than an average orange it was too bitter. The idea to peel each wedge didn’t occur to people at first and once it did seemed like too much work.

Fruits were scarce and expensive and there were hardly any I didn’t like. So I liked grapefruits as well.

Rusty and Pomelos

Since then I’ve tried many more different varieties of citrus including grapefruit’s real parent pomelo but grapefruit is still one of my favorite fruits and I enjoy it in many forms.

 

Perfumes

This is a perfume blog so I’ll start with the perfume-related part (though for whatever reason – holidays? – my thoughts are all over the place). Grapefruit is a popular note in both supporting and leading roles so I am not trying to cover even all grapefruit perfumes that I’ve ever tested and still have samples of but will mention only several in-you-face grapefruit fragrances that I liked the most.

Aqua Allegoria Pamplelune by Guerlain is probably one of the best-known grapefruit perfumes. If you want a real review, I suggest reading Suzanna’s (Bois de Jasmine) five-star rated review. If you’re familiar with the perfume, I recommend reading Vanessa’s (Bonkers about Perfume) post Bonkers “In Edinburgh”: The Guerlain Pamplelune Sniff-Off And A Bid To Rescue Birgit’s Grapefruit Scent Squeeze – just for laughs. I like Pamplelune and two mini bottles will satisfy my grapefruit cravings for a while. Once they are gone I suspect I’ll want more.

Guerlain Pamplelune

Not surprisingly, Grapefruit by Jo Malone is the second perfume that comes into the conversation every time somebody raises the topic of perfumes with the homonymous note. Gaia (The non-Blonde) in her review was even more generous towards this perfume than I would have been: I think it’s nice but not interesting enough to tolerate the usual Jo Malone perfumes’ vanishing act and too expensive to use it in, again, usual for the brand’s DIY layering games. But I love Jo Malone’s Grapefruit Body & Hand Wash Gel. My travel-sized bottle is gone so now I’m thinking about buying the real bottle. I do not like the price but I enjoyed taking showers with that gel so much that I might just take the plunge.

JM Grapefruit‘s half-sibling, Pomelo by Jo Loves… (same perfumer but different brand and relations become even murkier if to consider fruits themselves), starts like a juicy grapefruit (well, technically pomelo but those two are close enough) but the drydown on my skin is very similar to the older brother’s one. And with an even higher sticker price this one isn’t making it into my collection. For real review of Jo Loves… Pomelo read Lucas’ (Chemist in the Bottle) post.

Another half-sibling, Assam & Grapefruit by Jo Malone (same brand but different perfumer), much more subtle with grapefruit, was a limited edition a couple of years ago (it’s still available online) so even though I have a bottle of it and wear it in summer from time to time, I don’t think it’s special enough to recommend hunting for it.

Eau de Pamplemousse Rose by Hermès in its opening is an unmistakably grapefruit perfume. Every time I try it, for the first couple of minutes I have to hold myself from leaking my wrist – so believable Eau de Pamplemousse Rose smells of sweet and juicy grapefruit! But then it dries down to a floral skin scent. It’s pleasant but the only reason I might go for a small bottle is because I like those colored bottles from the line. Birgit (Olfactoria’s Travels) thinks that Eau de Pamplemousse Rose can be trusted to revive the spirits, even if the rain keeps falling.

Rusty and Guerlain Pmplelune 

Drinks

I’m not a tea connoisseur (so if you are please disregard this part of my post) but I like tea and throughout the years I found different teas that I enjoy drinking. One of such teas is Lupicia Grapefruit Green tea. It’s very fragrant and has a very believable grapefruit smell. I bought this tea more than once which I do only with teas that I really liked – otherwise I just move on.

 

Food

Several years ago at Out The Door restaurant in San Francisco I ate Jicama and Grapefruit Salad with Red Cabbage, Candied Pecans and Sweet Soy Dressing salad. It was created by a known master chef Charles Phan (Slanted Door). I liked it and started making a variation of it at home. You can simplify the preparation by buying candied pecans instead of making your own. I found a blog with detailed instructions and pictures for this salad, so I won’t reproduce it here but rather give you a link.

 

Do you like grapefruits?

 

 

Images: my own

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48 thoughts on “In the Search for the Perfect Grapefruit

  1. Mum and Dad would share a grapefruit for breakfast at least once a week in summer. They were cheap and yummy and we kids would have other fruits in a fruit salad with maybe one segment swapped with M & D for a strawberry or banana piece. Since then I don’t think I’ve eaten grapefruit but I love the juice.
    I own none of your grapefruit fragrances mentioned, you have given me a mission Undina, thank you.
    Portia xx

  2. Dearest U
    I adore grapefruits sliced, grilled, juiced, tinned, in salads and with fish. They were a treat as a child and a staple now as the years spin buy and I would not be without out them.
    Pamplelune is probably my favourite of those perfumes you list (and I’ve never got anything of that feline note others talk so incessantly about).
    I would also put a word in for Floris’ Pink Grapefruit (now, I think, gone). One thing British perfumery excels in apart from lavender and bouquets is the citrus and this should stand among the ranks of all those exalted limes.
    Now, that recipe…
    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy

    • Dear Dandy,

      I don’t think I’ve ever tried grilled grapefruit, so thank you forthe idea, I’ll investigate it.

      Floris isn’t represented well here so in combination with the scent being discontinued I don’t think I have any chance getting a sniff of that one but I’ll take your word for it.

  3. Thank you for this post, Undina!
    I read somewhere that smelling grapefruit can help people lose weight. It is supposed to energizes us or curb our appetites or something. There are also all kinds of diets using grapefruit for breakfast. Grapefruit never worked for me that way. I just love eating it so much that all I manage to do is put on extra pounds. Grapefruit perfumes? I enjoy DSH Pamplemousse en Plus (I think that one is discontinued). DSH does another grapefruit but unfortunately it lasts only a moment on my skin.
    Azar

    • Thank you, Azar.
      I know what you mean about diets: all those recommendations are good for people who do not love and normally do not eat fruits. If I hadn’t tried to watch how much I eat I would have eaten at least twice as many fruits.
      I tried DHS’s Pamplemousse (don’t remember “en Plus” part in the name) but it wasn’t one of my favorites, I couldn’t smell too much of a grapefruit there.

  4. I love grapefruits! Haven’t found one I love in a perfume, although I think that Imaginary Authors scent is pretty cool. Falling Into the Sea, I believe.

  5. Morning Undina! I love grapefruits. I inherited my grandmother’s grapefruit bowls and her grapefruit knife. A glass bowl that is specially designed to hold half a grapefruit. We would cut the grapefruit the night before, use the grapefruit knife to divide the segments up, and then sprinkle a light coating of sugar onto it. The next morning thr sugar had become a thin crust, which you broke through to eat your first segment. I don’t know why the sugar doesn’t dissolve on the grapefruit actually. Hmmm. Acidity perhaps? In any case, I still prepare them this way for my family. I have never tried a grapefruit perfume, unlesd you count squirting myself in the eyeballs with the juice, which has happened! Hugs. Val xxx

  6. I’m with you in terms of loving grapefruits. I especially like the pink ones. Have you tried eating a grapefruit with kiwi? They make quite a nice pairing of flavors.
    Pamplelune is one of my favorite grapefruits, so is 1725 Casanova by Histoires de Parfums. We have one Aqua Allegoria at home, it’s my mums Mandarine Basilic, she likes it more than Pamplelune.
    And thank you for mentioning my Pomelo post.

    • I haven’t tried 1725 yet but will remember to do that the next time I’m in the store that carries the line. And I should try grapefruit with kiwi: I’ve never even thought about that combination (though I often used kiwi in fruit salads with orange, apple and banana).

  7. Before my stomach turned on me, I used to eat grapefruit regularly–my grandparents had a tree. Pomelos are even better, though. I have an old bottle of M. Micallef Pomelos, and although the top notes have turned, after about fifteen minutes it’s delightful.

  8. Hello Undina, I also love grapefruit…the pink ones, just like twin Lucas. I don’t eat it as a whole fruit often because 1) it is quite messy as I have to peel off the bitter outer covering of each segment; 2) I often get the juice in my eyes; and 3) (and this will sound like I’m high maintenance food-wise between this and my other food quirks / sensitivities / preferences) it is too acidic for me even if it sweet — not to horrify anyone but I can feel it “burning all the way down to my stomach” very much like what happens when I drink alcohol but that has never stopped me from enjoying an occasional drink. That said, I have had the jarred grapefruit segments and those are quite good and satisfies my grapefruit cravings.

    As to perfumes with grapefruit, I like Hermes Un Jardin Sur le Nil.

    P.S. That first picture of Rusty…was that taken when he was a kitten? He looks a lot slimmer but it could be that he’s more elongated trying to get to momma’s grapefruits. He is such a cutie!

    • Yes, that picture of Rusty is when he was 6-7 months old, good eye! :)

      I know what you mean about grapefruits. I’m lucky: my vSO peels them for me and all I have to do is to remove those individual bitter membranes. I’m sorry you cannot eat as many grapefruits as you’d like but at least canned ones work for you. And, of course, there are perfumes… :)

      I like Un Jardin Sur le Nil and gone almost through the whole bottle of it but grapefruit isn’t dominant in it for my nose.

  9. I like grapefruits but I love pomelos! When I was an exchange student in Thailand we used to peel the segments and dip in a mixture of sugar, salt and chilli. This is a “universal elixir” kind of dip, enhances the flavors of any fruit imaginable. Pomelos are also used in traditional Thai salads, I highly recommend googling a recipe or two of those :)

    My favorite perfume in the grapefruit/pomelo category is Ormonde Jaynes Osmanthus, especially the start has some very authentic pomelo in it!

    • I think that maybe pomelos that I tried weren’t the best. Maybe I should try it in its natural environment :)

      OJ Osmanthus is a perfume in the line that gets less attention from perfumistas. I have a sample of it so I’ll retest it.

  10. I love grapefruit in ALL forms, including the juice I drink almost every morning. We are lucky in Texas we get grapefruit very fresh here because they grow a particular kind of very red grapefruit down in the Rio Grande valley. I keep meaning to pick up a bottle of Pamplelune. I am pretty sure you can find that one at the discount sites. It’s so good!

      • Oh, I had another idea about grapefruit scents! I think the Bath and Body Works Pink Grapefruit scent is really not half bad for what it is. I have a few of the lotions and enjoy them. They no longer carry it in stores, but I thought they were still carrying it online… but I went and looked just now and it seems they’re out of stock. So maybe it’s totally gone. But it was one of their better scents.

  11. I love grapefruit, but rarely find a grapefruit perfume that smells convincing on my skin. The most photorealistic grapefruit for me comes from Thymes Agave Nectar Body Lotion. Not the perfume, not the hand lotion, but the body lotion. I can’t tell you why, but there it is.

    • I remember coming across some body products that I thought would have been great as a perfume and, unfortunately, even more perfumes that would have been great as a body product ;)

  12. I adore grapefruit (and Pamplelune is one of summer favorites for me).
    That said, I grew up loving it as my grandmother often peeled some for my sister and I and we both loved eating them. She still talks about how once the three of us ate 5 of them in one sitting.
    Today I am incredibly grateful to my grandmother for teaching me to love all the good food – fruit and vegetables and a healthy diet.

    • I got a thing or two from my grandmother as well (food-related, I mean, otherwise I got a lot – my love to perfumes for one). I can easily eat two good grapefruits in one sitting though I’m trying not to overdo that.

  13. Wow, it’s quite to insight to learn that you only knew of oranges and lemons in your country of origin until grapefruits showed up at age 10.

    I can’t eat anything bitter so grapefruit are off the menu for me, and I haven’t had any success with grapefruit perfumes either. I tried the Guerlain and Jo Malone and then kind of gave up. I will try the Hermes though as you and B make that sound very appealing. Plus isn’t it grapefruit perfume that is supposed to make you appear younger to others? :)

    • Wait, there’s more! I saw kiwi for the first time when I was, probably, 17 or 18 ;)

      Hermes’ Rose Ikebana has slightly less grapefruit than au de Pamplemousse Rose so consider it as a possible choice for a grapefruit perfume: not that you need any help in looking youthful ;)

  14. I remember eating grapefruit very often as a child. And I tossed it heavily with sugar. As it comes to Pamplelune from Guerlain I’m one of the “lucky” ones to get a cat pee from it ;-). I love it when it is sprayed on a paper or just the opening on the skin, then it just goes towards cat pee.

    • In childhood everything tasted better with a lot of sugar… Well, almost everything (I do not recommend repeating my experiment with a vegetable soup ;) ).
      I’m sorry about the cat pee part since it’s such a cheerful and beautiful summer perfume. But you have to follow your skin chemistry and I’m sure that at some point there will be a citrus (not necessarily grapefruit) perfume that works just right for you.

  15. I have historically been a bit of a grapefruit refusenik, in life as in perfume, and still don’t care for the juice, unless it is very pink with loads of sugar piled on. My friend Gillie toasts sugar-laden grapefruit, brulee-style, and that takes the acerbic edge off quite well.

    As with civet and other note no-no’s, I am gradually coming round to a grapefuit note in perfume, and found Pamplelune perfectly pleasant on my brother and my own skin! (Thanks for the link, btw.) I also quite enjoyed the recent Miller Harris release Pamplemousse, and my grapefruit tolerance may be an ongoing work-in-progress. After all, when sudden onset perfume mania struck me, the only bottle of scent I owned at the time was EL Intuition, which is like Stella with added grapefruit! And the note didn’t bother me there….Perhaps it was an omen.

    • Our tastes develop so if it goes at the rate it did so far you’ll be bathing in one of those perfumes in no time! ;)

      It’s an interesting idea – toasting a grapefruit. I keep learning new things about my favorite fruit. Thank you.

  16. Lovely post!

    I detest grapefruit, but constantly buy them because my beloved eats them and will drink grapefruit juice as well. So I associate the smell with happy kisses. :-)

    I like DSH’s Pamplemousse, one of her best, I think, but can’t do many grapefruit scents – too much cat pee in them for me, I think. It’s amazing how much subtlety I now perceive in the different citrus fruits because of how I perceive them in perfume. I certainly never thought that much about them before as much as I do now.

    • Happy kisses is a great association, keep it! :)

      I definitely can taste the difference between various citruses but I almost never can tell what exactly I’m smelling in perfume. Maybe with more practice…

  17. I like grapefruit … but usually not in perfume! I think I will have to try the recipe you linked however. That sounds yummy.

    In perfume, I don’t necessarily despise the note completely (as I once thought I did), but it usually doesn’t work for me as a perfume. As a hand wash or a soap, sure, but as a perfume it is too fresh for me. (Not surprising, really, as I never really wear anything “fresh” as a perfume.)

  18. Can I suggest “Just Grapefruit” by Arran Aromatics, a reliable grapefruit/citrus fragrance with astonishing longevity and a revitalising feel-good scent? (It might take some tracking down.)

    I can’t say I’m a fan of eating grapefruit – just the thought of it makes the enamel of my teeth flinch in anticipation of serious acidity!

    • I haven’t even heard of this brand! From what I see in the search, it’s your equivalent of our Body Shop/Works.

      Can you eat other citruses? I don’t think of grapefruit as of an especially acidic fruit – so I wonder if we’re eating the same varieties.

  19. Hello again!

    I suspect that Arran Aromatics is more localised than Body Shop or BBWorks but it might have some presence Over There.

    I do eat citrus fruits, honestly, but grapefruit also calls to mind Mother on a Diet times from childhood;-) Maybe the grapefruit varieties available now have more than just sharpness and deprivation to offer?

    cheerio!

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