Grapefruit has always been one of my favorite fruits in general, and my favorite citrus fruit in particular. While I grew up eating white grapefruit, instead of pink grapefruit, almost exclusively, in recent years pink grapefruit has become more prominent and more generally available. In fact, many younger people may not even be aware that grapefruit come in a white variety since they may have grown up having only pink or ruby red grapefruit.
Pink grapefruit are generally smaller and sweeter than white grapefruit, which is the cardinal difference between the two varieties. White grapefruit, by contrast, are larger and more tart than pink grapefruit. You can infer from this that pink grapefruit has a relatively higher sugar content than white grapefruit. The sweeter taste of the pink grapefruit varieties probably explains why pink grapefruit have become the preferred variety of grapefruit. In addition, pink grapefruit have a longer shelf life than white grapefruit, which explains why grocery stores are more likely to stock pink grapefruit than white grapefruit.
Although pink grapefruit has become more popular than white grapefruit, I myself have always preferred the more sour taste of white grapefruit above the sweeter taste of pink grapefruit. I find that the more acidic citrus flavor of white grapefruit is more refreshing than the sugar-laden taste of pink grapefruit. And a glass of fresh-squeezed white grapefruit juice is a refreshing beverage on a hot day or a delicious way to get a day’s supply of vitamin C.
Pink grapefruit hold up slightly better than white grapefruit in fruit salads; presumably due to their firmer texture. But a white grapefruit is certainly better to eat in halves with a grapefruit spoon than a pink grapefruit. Although there is no definitive answer to which grapefruit variety is better overall, if you have not ever tried a white grapefruit and have had only pink grapefruit, you owe it to yourself to try this more classic and traditional grapefruit variety. Since white grapefruit are not often carried by most grocers nowadays, you may have to speak with your grocer’s produce manager and ask him to special order white grapefruit for you. The produce manager at my local Safeway in Campbell, CA was very kind and ordered a shipment of white grapefruit because I had inquired about whether they were still available. In addition, there are several online retailers that specialize in citrus fruit. For example, a company called Florida Fruit Shippers sells white grapefruit online, so you can order a box of white grapefruit at your convenience.
In conclusion, the main difference between white grapefruit and pink grapefruit is the level of sweetness and tartness. Pink grapefruit are sweeter, and white grapefruit are more tart and more refreshing than pink grapefruit. Personal preference alone dictates which variety you prefer, but you should try white grapefruit if you have only ever tried pink grapefruit. It may take some time to obtain some white grapefruit, but you will probably find that the effort was well worthwhile.