This marmalade’s a winner. Strips of grapefruit rind are suspended in a clear, bright, and clean-tasting, slightly syrupy jelly. Served on toast, spooned over seared scallops or steamed broccoli, it is a surprisingly versatile preserve.
Last year, I made a delicious chunky three-citrus marmalade (orange, grapefruit and lemon) that was a big hit, and I decided this year to deconstruct it into three marmalades. The method for last year’s batch – inspired by Rachel Saunders of Blue Chair Jam – first involved poaching grapefruit halves that had been hand-squeezed of juice until the rind is tender, and refrigerating them overnight. The flesh and pith was then scraped into the liquid and combined with reserved juice and sugar. The rind was then cut into thick chunks and cooked in the liquid until gelled, along with similarly prepared oranges and lemons.
Remembering last summer’s jewel-like apricot preserves that had pieces of fruit suspended in clear jelly, I decided to apply the method to this marmalade, with success. One of the keys was cooking the liquid alone until nearly perfectly gelled, adding the fruit, and cooking until the entire mixture gelled. The second key was eliminating the pith and pulp from the rind and juice. I peeled the grapefruits by scoring them in wide segments pole to pole and separated the rind from the fruit. I then used my juicer to extract clear juice, discarding the pulp. After I poached the rinds until tender and refrigerated them overnight, I scraped the pith away and slivered the rind.
The two-step cooking process kept the rind from clouding the jelly but, as I learned, you have to be rigorous about testing the gel. I was worried about over-cooking it so I slightly undershot the gel. Even though the marmalade’s a little runny as a result, its clear bright taste shines, and I find myself spooning the syrup over all kinds of things and even added it to black tea, with the effect of a citrusy Earl Grey brew. Yum.
3 large organic, preferably unwaxed, pink grapefruits with unblemished skin
1/4 c gin
Sugar (about 3 c, but measured in proportion to liquid)
Optional: juice and seeds from 1 lemon
First day: Peel the rind and pith from the grapefruit by scoring it pole to pole in quarters or sixths. Juice the grapefruit flesh in an electric juicer and set aside in the refrigerator, discarding the pulp. In a large side saucepan (preferably large enough to hold the rind in one layer), cover the rind with cold water by an inch and bring it to a simmer over medium heat. Regulate the heat to allow the rind to simmer, floating in the water, until tender, about 40 minutes. Add more water if necessary. Cool the rind and liquid and refrigerate them overnight.
If using the optional lemon, add the juice to the grapefruit juice and the seeds, tied into a muslin sack, to the cooked grapefruit rind before refrigerating.
Second day: Prepare jars for water bath canning, Place a saucer in the freezer for testing the gel. Drain the refrigerated rind and liquid into a large measuring cup (I had about 2 cups). Gently squeeze the liquid from the rind. Add the reserved squeezed grapefruit juice and the gin and note the total volume (I had 4 cups total). Place the juice in a large shallow saucepan and add the sack of lemon seeds if using. Add three-quarters of the liquid volume in sugar (I used 3 cups sugar for 4 cups liquid.) Bring the mixture to a boil and continue to cook, bubbling but not boiling fiercely, until it tests for gel, about 20 minutes. (When a drop is placed on the frozen plate, it should be wrinkly to the touch.)
Meanwhile, scrape the pith from the grapefruit rinds and discard it. Sliver the rind to the desired thickness (mine was 1/16 inch x 1 inch). When the liquid tests for gel, add the rind and cook at a lively simmer until the mixtures once again tests for gel, about 10 minutes.
Ladle into the prepared canning jars, making sure to release any air bubbles, and seal with a two-piece lid. Process in the water kettle for 10 minutes after the water comes to a boil, turn off the heat, remove the lid and let sit for 5 minutes before removing the jars to a counter to sit, undisturbed, until cool.
Makes about 4 eight-ounce jars.