all citrus trees (orange, lime, tangerine) originally came from
the Malay Archipelago, citrus has been a major commercial crop
in Belize for decades. Grapefruit trees grow 15-20 feet and take
five years before they bear fruit. Each mature grapefruit tree
can yield over 500 pounds of fruit.
The first grapefruit trees were planted in Pomona in 1926. Pomona
is still the citrus capital of Belize, although the industry has
spread west to the Cayo District and South to Stann Creek and
Toledo. There are 1000 registered citrus growers in Belize, working
48,000 acres and supporting an estimated 10,000 workers. Most
of the citrus (80%) is orange, then grapefruit, then lime and
tangerines. Most of the product is concentrate for export, with
a small amount of oils also manufactured.
has duty-free access to the US, EEC and Caricom markets. 800,000
gallons of concentrate were exported in the 2000/2001 season
which earned a whopping $37 million US. This makes citrus one
of the most important agricultural products in Belize.
But you can enjoy Belize's pure (no sugar, no high fructose
corn syrup added!) grapefruit juice from local brands like Big
H and Caribbean Pride. Or eat them right so: grapefruit season
is now through April. For the brave, there's grapefruit
wine made locally in Dangriga and always available in time for
Garifuna Settlement Day.
for the creative: following is a recipe for "Tart Tart",
an easy to make grapefruit dessert.
4 egg yolks
1/2 c. sugar
3 tbs. flour
2 tsp. finely minced lime zest (from peel)
2 tsp. finely minced grapefruit zest
2/3 c. fresh grapefruit juice
1/2 c. fresh lime juice
1 tsp. butter
1 c. grapefruit sections
the piecrust. Let it cool completely. Combine the egg yolks, flour,
sugar, and citrus zests in a heavy saucepan. Pour in the fruit
juices, whisk thoroughly and bring to a boil over medium heat.
Boil gently for 2 minutes, whisking frequently. Remove from heat
and pour into the cooled pie shell. Immediately dot the top with
the butter to prevent a skin from forming. Set aside to cool at
room temperature, it will thicken as it cools. Decorate with the
grapefruit wedges and chill in the refrigerator before serving.
If you want to learn more about Belize's fruits, look for
More, a plant guide for Belize with color pictures, on sale
at Angelus Press.