If someone gave you seven homegrown, fresh-picked grapefruit, what would you do? Thank them of course, but after that? If you were me, you would make marmalade. Not because marmalade is your favorite jam-like substance. Not because grapefruit is your favoritest citrus fruit. No. You would make marmalade because you’ve been obsessed over home-canning and thought it would be a perfect gateway drug. Yes! I’m weird, I can’t help it. I’ve had it in my mind that I wanted to make jam and pickles and can them myself. I want to have a shelf lined with homey jars filled with homemade preserves made from fresh fruits from the farmers market and friends’ fruit trees.
Thanks to this bounty of grapefruit, I have a modest start to filling that shelf. One of Dan’s coworkers has a grapefruit tree and bestowed upon him a bag full of grapefruit. This is what is left after round 1 of marmalade-ing…
That’s dirt on them. I scrubbed them clean before using them. Can you imagine finding dirt on fruit at a grocery store? All of the fruit and veggies are so *clean*. I am generally a fan of clean, but dirt is natural and its nice to sometimes have fruit with a little dirt on it to remind me it really is from the earth and not manufactured somewhere.
If you take a close look at those jars, you’ll see dark specs. That’s not dirt. No, that’s the seeds scraped from a vanilla bean. When I decided to make marmalade, I did a search for grapefruit marmalade. I found several recipes, but this one on Desert Candy caught my eye. “Pink Grapefruit Marmalade with Vanilla”. The combination of tart and the heady vanilla sweetness piqued my curiosity. And I just love the way vanilla beans speckle everything.
I have to say, the flavor did not disappoint. It’s tart. It’s sweet. It’s bright. Is bright a flavor? I don’t like bitter marmalades and this one has a tang without the bitter bite. I blanched the grapefruit peel twice to remove the bitterness and it actually worked!
While I don’t think I could improve the flavor, the consistency is a bit runny. I’m not sure if that is because I did not cook it long enough to get to the gel point or if the grapefruit didn’t have enough pectin? I may try to cook it again to see if I can get it to gel. Even if it doesn’t, all of this marmalade will be eaten… most likely with a spoon. Or on toast, if you insist.
I had toast with grapefruit marmalade for dinner tonight. And while it was not the most balanced of meals, it was delicious.
Something that is decidedly not delicious though: lime marmalade. At least not the stuff I made. I got so excited about the whole popping sounds that the lids made when sealing shut on the grapefruit marmalade that I wanted more. More! So those poor helpless limes on my counter got chopped and boiled into a “marmalade”. Maybe someone else would like it but it is too bitter for me. And limey. Yes, I know. Duh, it’s lime marmalade. I do like lime, just maybe not in my marmalade. Margarita? Yes. Marmalade? Not so much. Maybe the peel needed to be blanched to remove the bitterness? It looks pretty in the jars at least…
Grapefruit Marmalade with Vanilla Bean
(adapted from Desert Candy)
3 large grapefruits
3 cups water
4 cups sugar
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1. Cut the peel from the grapefruit leaving most (but not all) of the white pith on the fruit. Slice the peel into thin strips.
2. Place peel in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Once it starts to boil, remove from the heat and cover. Let it sit for about 20 minutes. Drain and repeat.
3. Cut off all of the white pith from the fruit. Working over a bowl or a large pot, cut the sections of the fruit (cutting between the membranes to only take the fleshy fruit). Squeeze as much juice from the membranes as you can. (Discard all seeds).
4. Add the peel and sectioned fruit (with juice) to a large pot. Add the water and sugar. Bring to a boil and stir to combine.
5. Lower the heat to a low simmer. Cook until the marmalade is thick and translucent (about one hour? I’m not too sure about the timing since my marmalade is still runny. I’ll update the recipe if/when I figure it out).
6. Add the vanilla bean seeds and simmer another five minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice.
7. Ladle this into jars, wipe the rims clean, and tighten the lids. You could store this in the refrigerator like this and eat it. Or process the jars in a hot water canner for 10 minutes.