Two events bookend Winter in my kitchen, Quince Paste and Grapefruit Marmalade.
In Autumn I gather together the biggest, roundest most golden quince and pray that they don’t have moths inside. As the sun streams into the kitchen I set about the labour of love which is turning them into the mulberry jewelled paste and jelly that will see us through an entire winter of cheese platters, and desserts that will coat our tummies and bottoms against the winter cold.
In Spring I rely on my good friends who have a veritable Tane Mahuta of a grapefruit tree in their back garden to supply me with a mountain of fruit and turn it into glorious, slightly bitter marmalade. I bottle it and give some to them, and anyone who will stand still long enough to receive a jar. I like to think it makes their winter of suffering in that damp, uninsulated house a little more bearable.
Grapefruit marmalade was my father’s domain, and like most of his culinary endeavours holds a special place in my memory. Its deceptively easy to make, as the high pectin levels in the grapefruit peel obviate the need to add pectin, or use jam sugar and ensure easy setting. This recipe is so easy to remember 2-2-2: 2 kgs of fruit, 2kgs of sugar and 2 litres of water.
Grapefruit Marmalade Recipe
2 Litres of water
Cut the whole grapefruit into quarters,don’t peel them! then whiz the pieces up in the food processor using the blade attachment till fine, but not pulped.
In your biggest stock pot put all the cut up grapefruit and cover with 2 litres of water and leave to the skins to soften overnight.
The next day bring the grapefruit and water to the boil and boil for 40 minutes. Lower the heat and add the sugar, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Bring the whole mixture back to a rolling boil and keep it like that for an hour.
You don’t need to sit on it, the odd stir every 10 minutes, just to stop it burning on the bottom will be fine.
If you think it is at risk of doing this, remove it from the heat just to loosen the fruit with a spatula and return to the heat. You want it to caramelise, but not burn.
Next comes the most stressful bit: testing to see if it will set! After nearly an hour you can drop a little bit onto a chilled saucer to guage this. If it forms a skin that wrinkles when you hold the plate on an angle after a minute or so then it has set and you are ready to bottle. I find this incredibly difficult to tell, an often my marmalade is too set, but better that than too runny, and it always tastes delicious!
Ladle into sterilised jars straight away and seal with sterilised lids. It will last for years, but you really need to give away as much as you can, and use the rest for marmalade steamed pudding.
Wash the jars in the hot cycle of your dishwasher as usual, paying close attention to the lids. You can only use metal lids and you must make sure that any former food detritus has been removed before you run the dishwasher.
As soon as the dishwasher has finished whip them into a pre-heated oven and leave them there for at least 15 mins until you are ready to bottle. As soon as you have filled them, put the lids on the jars immediately, you really want to see that seal in the middle of lid depress to ensure they are airtight.