Making & filling endless jars with marmalade has to be my favourite annual rituals of the kitchen. Each January, when everything seems dull & lifeless, along comes a season of colourful, zesty, citrus fruit that bring hope & reminds us that all is not lost during these long winter months. The reason I call my annual marmalade making a ritual instead of a tradition is because of the process, care & attention involved.
Whilst the process is a simple one, it’s a far cry for the one bowl, mix & boil methods of jam making. Carefully scooping juicy flesh from its casing. Methodically slicing the peel to the right, not too thin but not too thick, shred. Squeezing every last ounce of gooey pectin back into the bowl. All before bubbling away, filling the house with the sweet, uplifting scent of citrus before finally potting up into enough jars to see you through another year (if you read that in the style of an M&S advert then, I like you). A marmalade ritual.
Marmalade is not only good for eating but it’s good for the mind too. There’s such pleasure & reward in each of these steps to finally produce these glistening jars. An activity that is very welcome under the current circumstances. If you’ve never enjoyed a Marmalade Day before then I’d say 2021 would be a good year to start (not just because we’re all housebound for the foreseeable!). You don’t have to stick to just oranges you know, why not try a lemon, lime or grapefruit marmalade?
Normally I’m an advocate of the queen or marmalade making, the sharp & bitter Seville orange. However, as we’re currently living in a world of lockdowns & restrictions, living in the middle of the countryside has its downfalls, mainly, my lack of access to speciality foods like my beloved Seville. Rather than be defeated (a girl’s gotta have her marmalade fix for the year ahead, especially this one!), let’s get creative. You don’t need fancy fruit to make a quality marmalade, just the care & attention I mentioned earlier. So, this year I’m mixing it up with some ruby red grapefruit marmalade instead! The result is still a sweet,slightly bitter, tangy marmalade that’s equally as good on my toast for breakfast as it on chicken legs for tea.
- 1.5kg grapefruit
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 2.5 litres of water
- 3 kg granulated sugar
- Before beginning, place a small saucer into the freezer to chill
- Start by juicing the grapefruit & lemons
- Place the grapefruit juice & lemon juice, along with all of the water into a maslin pan or a large heavy bottomed saucepan
- Next, slice each grapefruit in half & use a spoon to scoop the flesh, pith & pips out, leaving behind the skins
- Place all of the scooped out flesh, pith & pips into the centre of a piece of maslin cloth (or you can use a clean dishcloth) & secure them inside by tying a knot using the corners
- Place the muslin cloth into the pan & secure it to the handle of the pan so that you can easily remove it later
- Next, take the peel of the grapefruit & slice into either thick or thin strips, depending on how you like your shred, & add it to the pan
- Bring the pan to a boil over a high heat before reducing it to a simmer (medium heat) & leave it to simmer away for 2 hours or until the strips of peel have all softened (all of the pith will have also turned translucent)
- After 2 hours, take off of the heat & remove the muslin cloth before setting it aside to cool
- Once it has cooled enough to handle, use your hands to squeeze the grapefruit flesh inside of the maslin & extract as much of the gooey pectin that seeps through as you can, adding it all back into the pan
- Now, add the sugar to the pan & stir over a low heat until all of the sugar has dissolved
- Bring the mixture up to a fast boil & continue to boil for 30 – 40 minutes
- After 30 minutes, test the marmalade to see if it’s reached setting point by placing a small drop onto the chilled saucer from the freezer
- Push your finger through the marmalade & if the surface wrinkles then it’s done, if it doesn’t give it another 10 minutes & test again
- When it’s ready, take the marmalade off the heat & leave it to stand for 20 minutes
- After 20 minutes, pot up into clean, sterilised jars
- Turn the jars upside down & leave them to cool for 1 hour before turning them upright & leaving to fully cool