Rx Ruby Red Grapefruit Sorbet

It started with a tickle.

One bloodshot eye. Two. Pressure behind the bridge of the nose. Voice wavering between a scratchy lower octave and a breathy Marilyn Monroe-ish pitch.

The inevitable finally happened. After everything The Old North State has thrown at me in the past half-dozen years — hurricanes and tropical storms, dogged heat and humidity, countless bites from (insert insect type here), total annihilation of my crops in a curious array of manners — I succumbed. Southern. Allergies.

Humans, like other animals, have two hardwired coping mechanisms to adverse situations: evolve, or adjust behavior. Evolution miiiight take a while, so it’s prescription food to the rescue.

For most of us, April marks the tail end of grapefruit season. Sure imported versions are available year-round, but the best — in terms of quality, flavor and nutrition — are those purchased in season, preferably from growers close to home.

Back when we were south Texans, and local grapefruits were actually available, an 18-pound bag this time of year would run us a mere $5. Halves broiled with brown sugar, slices atop dressed greens with avocado, fresh-squeezed juice with the pulp added back in, or segments to eat as a snack — we feasted like fruit royalty. Now in North Carolina, our grapefruits aren’t locally grown, but they’re still in season and the price is right for stockpiling.

Although fresh will always win the day in my book, the pink juice mixed with a quick simple syrup makes for one amazing sorbet. And because these in-season ruby red grapefruit are already sweeter than sweet, I was able to slightly reduce the amount of syrup required at no detriment to the final taste and texture.

But dessert as “Rx”? In a loose sense of the word, of course, yes! Heavy on the antioxidant and vitamin rich juice, one 1/2-cup’s worth of throat-soothing frozen spoonfuls provides 30% of your daily vitamin C. Plus it’s just so very pretty and spring-y looking! Take that, allergies.

What’s in it for me?

Citrus fruits as a group contain a variety of nutrients that can help protect the body against disease and infection. In addition to its importance for immunity and skin health, vitamin C has potent antioxidant properties and also helps synthesis of collagen — the protein found in your skin, bones, tendons and ligaments that provides strength, structure and elasticity.

The filling soluble pectin fiber found predominantly in citrus peels may help lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and decrease risk of cardiac issues and diabetes. Citrus oils responsible for their aromas are shown to improve alertness and increase levels of the hormone serotonin to brighten your mood and decrease feelings of anxiety.

Grapefruit* provides over 50% of your daily value (DV) of vitamin C and nearly 30% that of vitamin A in just half of one medium fruit. The pink and red varieties get their deep hue from the antioxidant compound lycopene known for its potential to reduce inflammation, fight cellular damage, and reduce risk of cancer. Grapefruit is about 90% water, making it a hydrating addition to the diet for healthy lips, skin and hair. One half of a fruit is just over 50 calories.

This brightly colored and flavored dessert is delicious on its own, but is easy to dress up: Serve with a few fresh grapefruit sections and mint leaves; stick a tuile or cigar-style cookie on top; scatter over a few dark chocolate chips (trust me, the combination works); top a smaller portion with plain or vanilla Greek yogurt, gelato or ice cream; or take a festive turn by placing scoops in clear shallow bowls or coupe glasses and pouring a bit of bubbly over!

Allergies, a cold, or neither, a dish of sweet, tart ruby red sorbet is a nice end to any day.

Cheers, Heather

Tell me… Do you prefer the ruby red, pink, golden or white grapefruits? Or none of the above?

Rx Ruby Red Grapefruit Sorbet
Prep Time
Cook Time
Total Time
Two cups might look like a shocking amount of sugar, but the recipe starts with making a simple syrup. You will only need about half (1 cup) of the syrup, leaving the remainder for other uses, such as other frozen desserts (e.g., sorbet or granita), poaching fruit, or sweetening up cocktails or coffee drinks.
Recipe Type: dessert, frozen, sorbet, grapefruit, fruit, vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free
Makes: 1 quart (8, 1/2-cup servings)
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups fresh-squeezed ruby red grapefruit juice, from 2 1/2 to 3 grapefruits
  1. Add the sugar and water to a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, and bring to a gentle boil over medium-high. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is completely dissolved, about 8 to 12 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool for at least 30 minutes. Once cool, reserve 1 cup of the simple syrup, and decant the remainder into an airtight jar to refrigerate for later use, up to 2 months. Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, pass the fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice through a fine sieve into a large measuring cup. With a rubber spatula, press on the solids caught in the sieve to extract as much of the juice as possible; discard any solids that remain. Pour off any excess juice into a glass or jar so that you have exactly 2 cups of juice; reserve extras for later use (e.g., cooking, baking, vinaigrettes, drinking!). If you the amount is not quite 2 cups, juice another grapefruit half, strain, and add to the measuring cup; repeat until you have 2 cups.
  3. Transfer the strained juice to a deep bowl or a large storage container with a lid. Pour in the reserved 1 cup simple syrup, and stir to combine. Taste; if your grapefruits were more tart than sweet, pour in additional simple syrup 1 Tbsp at a time, tasting with each addition. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap or the container with its lid. Refrigerate until completely chilled before freezing, at least 1 hour, or overnight.
  4. Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer the sorbet to a large airtight container, and freeze for at least 2 hours, or overnight, before serving.
HGN Notes
+ Use an equal amount of any other type of citrus fruit you like in place of the grapefruit, e.g., blood orange, Cara Cara orange, regular orange, or the more tart lemon or lime.
+ If you want to achieve a smoother texture, or just want an ‘adult’ sorbet, add a 1 to 2 Tbsp booze. Perhaps white rum, a citrus or honey vodka, or tequila. I even hear sake is a good pair with grapefruit.
+ Dress it up with a few fresh grapefruit sections and mint leaves; stick a tuile or cigar-style cookie on top; scatter over a few dark chocolate chips; top a smaller portion with plain or vanilla Greek yogurt, gelato or ice cream; or take a festive turn by placing scoops in clear shallow bowls or coupe glasses and pouring a bit of bubbly over!

If you prefer a smaller 1/3-cup portion (try serving with a few fresh grapefruit segments!), the calories decrease to 48, and both the carbs and sugar decrease to 12 grams. Note: In this serving size (1/3-cup), 4 grams of the sugar are natural from the grapefruit; in the 1/2-cup serving listed above, 6 grams of the 18 grams total are natural.
Nutrition Info
Serving Size: 1/2 cup Calories: 72 Fat: 0 Saturated fat: 0 Unsaturated fat: 0 Trans fat: 0 Carbohydrates: 18 Sugar: 18 Sodium: 1 Fiber: 0 Protein: 0 Cholesterol: 0

Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cooking School.

*Grapefruit interacts with a variety of medications. Check for potential interactions with yours or inquire with your physician prior to incorporating grapefruit into your diet.

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Check out my downloadable nutrition guides.

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    • Heather Goesch, MPH, RDN, LDN says:

      Grapefruit cake sounds incredible! I can definitely imagine the ruby red fruit juice or pureed pulp finding a happy home in a buttery (brown butter?), densely crumbed cake. Poppy seeds, too. Yes. Maybe some recipe testing with this idea — thanks for sharing it! Fortunately allergy symptoms have subsided. It was most certainly thanks to soothing prescription desserts :) Cheers!

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