Grapefruit Marmalade

Marmalade. It sounds civilized, evoking images of proper British ladies, taking tea, eating little crustless sandwiches, with their pinkie fingers daintily crooked up as they sip. Or, if you are like me, it evokes sitting at breakfast with our grandparents who lived next door, having orange marmalade on Grandma’s homemade bread, while she sipped coffee from her saucer [she always poured coffee from her cup to the saucer to cool it off – she had learned it from her Mother, she said], and gave me a sip when I begged effectively enough. I mentioned to my sister that I was making this yesterday and she said “Yuk!”. Her memory is the same as mine, with the exception of how she felt about the marmalade I guess. I found the sharpness and bitterness and nice contrast to the sweet part, but she found it unpleasant, and always asked for something else.

The other memory of marmalade I have is from an episode of “Columbo” with Peter Falk, where a murder suspect sends orange marmalade to Columbo’s wife. In a effort to distract him from figuring out she murdered her husband, she poisons the marmalade, reasoning that he will be too grief-stricken by the loss of his wife to remember all the evidence he had gathered. It didn’t work of course – that Columbo was one smart cookie.

A lot of trouble, but worth it?

In looking for a recipe, I realized that there are several schools of thought about the proper way to make marmalade. There are recipes that contain either bottled or dry pectin, neither of which I happen to have right now. You can use the pith and membranes from the fruit, extracting the pectin they contain, by cooking them in a muslin bag along with the fruit and rind. But we are always warned to avoid the white pithy stuff just under citrus skin because of the bitter taste, so I didn’t think I wanted to risk too sharp a flavor by going this route. Marmalade is supposed to have a slightly bitter undertone, but you often find marmalades that are unpleasantly so, and that is not what I wanted. Instead, I found a recipe that uses the boiling of the fruit to a certain temperature, high enough to ensure enough water has been boiled away, that the sugar alone will thicken the mixture. That is the method I used and I am so glad I did, because this stuff is ambrosial.

I can tell you that making marmalade is no walk in the park. Not a day at the beach either. What it is: a huge pain the butt. Also worth every bit of effort, though you might wonder about that more than once while you are making it. It takes two days by this method, because the fruit has to steep overnight. A lot of recipes tell you to peel the grapefruit, then remove just the colored part of the skin from the pith and julienne it. Gah. I though I would try my zester instead – not the microplane though. You want the rind to retain some texture in the final result and a microplane just won’t do that. The zester, on the other hand, gives you nice little strips of skin, but leaves the pith behind. You want to get all the rind off 3 large pink grapefruit – make sure you wash and dry them first.Then, you need to peel off the white part. This probably sounds harder than it actually is. Cut off the ends, exposing the ends of the segments. Working from top to bottom, cut the pith off in strips. After the first piece, it is easier to follow the contour of the fruit. A very sharp knife will also make things a whole lot easier. Once all of the pith is completely gone, you are going to remove the fruit from between the membranes. Once you get the hang of it, it is not difficult, just rather tedious. And all but impossible to do and photograph at the same time. Again a sharp knife is a very good thing to have – I ran mine over the steel after each grapefruit. Squeeze all the juice from the remaining membranes, as well as from the pith, where bits of fruit get left behind.You will end up with a bowl containing the fruit and juice, and one with the strips of rind – both from 3 large grapefruits.Empty both bowls into a stainless steel pan – at least 3 quart, as later on this is going to foam up a bit and you want a pan large enough so that it won’t boil over on you. Add two cups of water, bring to a boil, lower hear a bit and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and leave overnight in a cool place – I put mine in an unheated spare room. You can put it in the refrigerator as well, though it is not really necessary.The next day, add 4 cups of granulated sugar, and bring up to a boil. Stir every 5 minutes or so, and leave at a low boil until a candy thermometer registers 220 degrees.  [Completely forget to take any photos of this at all – it will make your life more interesting later on when you can’t believe you actually did that.  Sorry.]  This took nearly 40 minutes on my stove. I also double checked that it would set up by keeping a small plate in the freezer, and pouring out a small spoonful on it. Give it a minute and then nudge it with the tip of your finger – when it is ready, it will show a little bit of a wrinkle on the top surface, and be nicely thickened. You don’t want marmalade to set up like jelly made from something like grapes will – it should still have a slightly liquidy quality about it, so don’t let it cook too long.Ladle into clean jars. If you plan for long term storage, boil the sealed jars by the water bath method for 10 to 15 minutes, remove from the pan to a towel set on the counter and allow to cool for 24 hours before storing – you should hear a nice sharp pop from each jar as they cool. You can remove the rings to use over – they can be difficult to get off if they sit for a long time. I didn’t proccess mine though – I am giving most of it away and the two jars we are keeping will keep for months in the refrigerator. That is – they would if they were around that long. That is theoretical though – not something that will ever get proved around here.

And on my own freshly toasted homemade bread, it tastes like something Grandma would really enjoy. With a saucer of coffee.

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31 Responses to Grapefruit Marmalade

  1. Miss Rachel says:

    Looks so yummy! I’d love some on a homemade scone. :) grapefruits are so good for you… why not enjoy them at any time of the day? especially with a nice cup of tea?

  2. Emily N. says:

    Oh, yum! I’d love some on a slice of homemade wheat bread right now. :D

  3. I’ll be over for breakfast;)

  4. Laura says:

    OH MY DROOL!!!! what do i have to do to be a recipient of things you make… I will beg PLEAD offer up a child or two… no grand kids though… will trade barter something :D … off to find a towel to sop up the drool :D

  5. Donalyn says:

    Rachel – I love grapefruits and eat tons of them every winter – SO yummy.

    Thanks Emily – it is good on everything I’ve tried so far.

    MPM – what do you take in your coffee?

    Laura – I think you probably have to be married to me for the last 34 years or so. That one spot is presently taken, I’m afraid. :)

  6. Janis says:

    That looks delicous!

  7. Kate says:

    I love marmalade and this one looks quite interesting. I am also a lover of grapefruit and eat lots of them.

  8. susan says:

    Looks great. I love your comments; especially the grandma details….excellent post!

  9. Louise says:

    It looks so good on that lovely bread, but could you make me some really nice peach jam please. :)

  10. Jenny says:

    You dont’ say how many grapefruits you used – do you have a ballpark?

  11. Donalyn says:

    Hi Jenny – it’s there, though not obvious – will fix that. It’s 3 large. sorry about that :)

  12. LUCY says:

    Hi Donalyn, the photo of this wonderful grapefruit marmalade brought me to your blog.
    I will try my hand at this recipe and will let you know how it turns out. I do have a question though, can this method be used for oranges or lemons?
    Great Blog!

  13. Donalyn says:

    Hi Lucy – Thanks for your kind words about my blog – so glad you like it.

    I think it would work for any citrus, or combination of different citrus. You might want to look around the internet for information on different kinds though – just to be sure there isn’t some important difference between them that would affect the outcome. And please do come back and tell us!

  14. Carolyn Jung says:

    That does look like a lot of work. But so worth it for the end result — a gorgeous marmalade of such vivid color and taste.

  15. Donalyn says:

    It really was worth it Carolyn. I don’t think of the trouble t all when I am enjoying it on my toast each morning.

  16. Megan says:

    Gorgeous photos! My Mom and I love making peach and blackberry preserves during the summer…grapefruit sound so light and refreshing!

  17. Donalyn says:

    Thanks Megan- the flavor of the grapefruit really shines in this and refreshing is exactly how I would describe the flavor. Thanks so much for stopping by.

  18. Julie says:

    Hi Donalyn,

    I made some grapefruit marmalade yesterday, but it has become terribly bitter. Would I be able to use it as a “stock” to add to orange marmalade to avoid throwing it away, which would be shameful.

    Thank you.

    Kind regards,


  19. Donalyn says:

    Oh no Julie – you don’t say if you used this recipe or another one? Marmalade typically does have quite a bitter edge to it, but it should not be to the point of inedibility, of course. I am not sure that I would risk ruining a batch of orange by mixing it in – that too has some bitterness to it, so I’m not sure that you would be happy with the mixture either. In any case, I am sending you an email to see if I can help figure out what the trouble is.

  20. Nick says:

    Cool! Grapefruit in anything rocks.

  21. Danielle L-D says:

    I literally just got done making this and I cannot wait to have some tomorrow morning. The hardest part is deciding if I am going to have it with homemade honey wheat toast or english muffins. The only thing I changed is I have vanilla beans in my sugar, which gave it a light finish. Thanks for the step by step procedure :-)

  22. Donalyn says:

    So glad you tried it Danielle – we just finished the last jar from last year – time to make some more!

  23. Adrielle says:

    Thanks for the recipe and directions! I made this, my first ever experience with marmalade, and it was a really fun late winter project.

    I also used the finished grapefruit marmalade to make some grapefruit and coconut cupcakes for my birthday recently. They didn’t even need icing. Yum!

  24. Donalyn says:

    Thanks for the comment Adrielle – I’m so glad that it came out well for you.

  25. Pingback: Grapefruit Tea Cake | dlyn

  26. Toby says:

    Thank you! After looking through countless recipes yours is the only one with such great pictures and the method that we were looking for.

  27. Donalyn says:

    Thanks Toby – so glad it was what you were looking for!

  28. Emily says:

    How much does this recipe make?

  29. Donalyn says:

    Hi Emily – it makes about 3 to 4 pints.

  30. Humboldt Honey says:

    Coming in late with comment but I wanted you to know that I made your recipe using organic pink grapefruit. This is a truly terrific recipe. I’m not homesick for UK now! Thanks for this wonderful and easy recipe.

  31. Bonnie says:

    This was my very first time canning anything and I must say, that was a great start!! Thank you for the step by step instructions. It made the process simple and enjoyable. the marmelade is amazing too! I will definitely make that again. Next time I will have to make a bigger batch. I started small and yielded only 3 jars. That won’t last long :)

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