- 2 pink grapefruit
- 3 navel oranges
- 4 small lemons
- 5 cups sugar
- 1 1/2 quarts water
It’s bitter. Is it too bitter? I don’t know. I have never been fond of marmalade because as a kid, it was bitter. Now that I love canning, the creativity of trying a new recipe, and my organic, hand picked citrus, I had to make marmalade, naturally. But as usual I rushed into it without enough research. I called Granny 3 times. But she wasn’t home. So I used my old Ball Canning Blue Book recipe from the 1970’s or whenever it’s from, maybe the 80’s, ah 1977. I’d like to believe that those recipes are true and traditional. Because the recipe I used did not say anything about removing the pith (white part) from my citrus. If you like black coffee, black tea, and dark beers, then you like the bitter flavor.
I went ahead with it, followed it even after getting a differing recipe from Granny over the phone. I tasted the finished product. Sweet, Sour, Bitter. Brilliant, it’s exciting 3 of my taste buds at once. I think it must be an acquired taste…that I’m beginning to acquire. Anyway knowing that the fruit inside it is fresh, organic, and hand picked by me makes it so irresistible. Better yet; I saw Granny a week later, had her taste it, and…she LOVED it!! So I gave her a jar that she said she was going to open immediately and start eating at home.
I feel like I passed the ultimate test, since she used to live in CA and grow and make her own marmalade too. Big sigh of relief. So the recipe I will share below is indeed a good one. You may find that it’s a bit different than most other online recipes. I’ve done some reading and research about the history of marmalade and I believe that my recipe is traditional. You may find recipes that are less bitter and more sweet, but those have been adapted by Americans (we love our sweet stuff!!) and are more like a jam or preserve and less like a marmalade. (The word Marmalade, in Europe, used to mean any fruit preserve and then became the name solely meant for citrus preserves with peel/rind, a term popularized by the British, several hundred years ago, when they imported citrus from N. Africa and the Middle East).
So I started by peeling two pink grapefruit and three navel oranges. Set fruit aside. Chop peel into small pieces. If you are using store bought fruit, wash it well first. Put chopped peel into a large pot. Add 1 1/2 quarts of water. Bring to a boil, boil 5 minutes and dump out water. Repeat. This process removes some of the harsh bitterness and citrus oil and begins tenderizing the peel.
To the drained citrus peel, I added 4 small chopped up lemons with peels still on. I also added the orange and grapefruit pulp, chopped well. (Being careful to remove all seeds, ends of fruit, and any strings from the middle or hard chunks of inner segment membrane. For a less bitter citrus jam, remove all white pith and most of the inner membrane from the grapefruit and lemon. I did not do this step, but thought somebody reading this might like to know someday.) Add 1 1/2 quarts water. Boil 5 minutes. Set aside in a cool place and let it sit for 12-18 hours. I let it sit overnight. This softens the peel and lets all of the flavors release and blend. Citrus has plenty of natural pectin which also starts to release during this process.
Bring to a boil and cook rapidly until peel is quite tender, about 30 minutes. If desired, at this point you may use a hand held immersion blender and puree some of this mixture to get some varied chunks and texture. Measure fruit and liquid. Add 1 cup granulated white sugar for every 1 cup of fruit mixture. For me, honestly, I eye-balled it, and thought it looked like about 7 cups. But I decided to only add 5 cups of sugar, didn’t want to overdo it. Granny warned me that it was easy to go over the top with the sugar.
Get your hot water canner and jars going.
Bring slowly to boiling, stirring until sugar dissolves. Cook rapidly to jellying point, about 20 minutes, stirring frequently. (I used my candy thermometer and boiled until it reached 220 degrees, then boiled 5 minutes.)This is the point when you cannot be interrupted and you have to wear your apron and open the windows and turn on the stove fan. Use a deep pot, so that the splatters don’t jump out and make a mess or burn you. Use a long handled wooden spoon for stirring.
Have your jars sanitized and your canning pot hot and ready.
Pour marmalade into pints or half pints, leaving 1/4 inch head space. Add lids and rings. Process in hot water canner for 10 minutes. You start counting the 10 minutes after you have seen the water come to a full boil. Remove from water. Lids should seal within seconds or minutes. Let jars of marmalade sit out for 24 hours to cool, settle, and amuse you. I enjoy looking at my beautiful creation, before stowing it away in the pantry.
My recipe made 6 pints.
Granny’s favorite part, and mine too, was the chewy chunks of rind. Many recipes will call for pureeing this and it’s just not as interesting for your tongue and mouth.
Enjoy with English muffins, scones, or toast.