Once again, I am in the preserving zone but this time it is not turning foraged woodland fruit into jam, but supermarket foraged fruit into marmalade. The fruit in question was a bag of pink grapefruit, bought in the mistaken assumption that they were large oranges. This posed a domestic dilemma, as nobody in the household is overly fond of grapefruit, even the rosier variety. I can remember as a child, being absolutely baffled by my parents’ occasional Sunday breakfasts of grapefruit halves. How could anyone eat them I wondered? What then, should I do with unwanted grapefruits (pink)? Cue a quick delve into the ever-faithful preserving book, to check out the citrus section. Lo and behold, Thane Prince does indeed have a recipe for grapefruit marmalade, which I decided to try out. As I had never made grapefruit marmalade, fate gave me the opportunity to throw caution to the winds and give it a go.
As usual, I ended up fiddling around with the recipe a little, partly because whereas I had four grapefruits, the recipe required three. As the last fruit standing would be going nowhere in a hurry, it had to be marmalized (so to speak). Thane Prince’s recipe called for the rind and juice of two lemons also. However, since I had increased the quantity of grapefruit, I left those out; merely adding in some lemon juice I had by me at the time. I found the shredding of the peel to be a challenge, despite having made lemon marmalade previously. I think that I should have used the same method (using a potato peeler) described in that recipe and not followed the instructions given in the marmalade instructions. It is much easier to take the peel/rind off first and then squeeze the juice rather than the other way around. You have to soak the shredded peel in water for twenty-four hours before cooking; the smell was lovely and tangy.
As I have said already, I am delighted to have the use of a proper preserving pan, though I have yet to use it to full capacity. I could easily have boiled double the quantity, had I need to dispose of more grapefruits. The most important part of the marmalade process is to ensure that you cook the peel until is very soft before adding the sugar. The recipe said to allow sixty minutes for this stage, so I was careful to stick to that as the thought of tough chewy peel was an unpleasant one. The peel is supposed to be soft enough that you can cut it with a spoon, so I assiduously tested it, terrified by the spectre of marmalade with hard bits of peel in it. Not a thing you want on your morning toast.
The marmalade recipe advises putting the pips in a muslin bag and adding them to the pan. However, the general instructions for preserving citrus fruits recommend also to reserve and boil the pith, to obtain as much pectin as possible, so I did that to be on the safe side. I am not sure whether grapefruit has as much pectin as lemon, but I assume all citrus fruits are good. I must check that for another time. I followed the instruction for adding sugar, boiling and then testing for a set. I found that it did take longer than the twenty to thirty minutes given in the recipe. In fact, I was probably too hasty in putting the jam into jars, as I found that all of the peel rose to the top half of the containers. I belatedly realised that I had missed the instruction to ‘allow it to stand for 5 minutes, then pot into hot sterilized jars’.
Nevertheless, our product tasted very good, a nice sharp, but not too a bitter flavour. We liked the colour too. I think the setting was not as good as it could have been, so the marmalade does not have the jelly like constancy I was hoping to achieve. However, for a first time effort I am pleased with our grapefruit preserve. I have in mind to use some in a marmalade cake, but that’s another blog post!