For my family, there is hardly a gift more versatile and useful than foodstuffs. So when my uncle and aunt visit every year after Christmas, we covet, among other homemade goodies and a relaxing afternoon, my aunt’s three-citrus marmalade (adapted from Eugenia Bone’s recipe). As with many things, however, this marmalade’s too good to last. It’s just the right mix of tangy and sweet, so it goes fast as a topping for almost anything: a savory entrée, bread, pastries, or a sweet dessert. But we’re in luck. Winter is citrus season, so now’s the time for me to restock and for you to get acquainted with your new favorite topping.
What You’ll Need:
1 grapefruit (red preferred)
3 oranges (blood and honeybells are best)
4 lemons (Meyer)
5 cups sugar
½ tablespoon butter
Experiment with different types of lemons and oranges; all are good. Just be sure that whatever variation you come up with, keep to the ratio of 1 cup of fruit pulp to 1 cup of sugar.
1. Peel the skin off the fruit in as large of pieces as you can. Cut or pick most of the white pith off the peels by scraping it away with a paring knife.
2. Cut the rinds from 2 lemons and 1 orange (about 1 cup) into little matchsticks (long, thin strips). You should have about 1 cup. Save the rinds for a later step.
3. Remove the seeds from the fruit. To remove seeds, cut the fruit in half along the equator and pop the seeds out with the tip of a paring knife.
4. Grind the fruit in a food processor to a chunky pulp. This should yield about 5 cups, but measure the pulp you have to make sugar you maintain that golden ratio: 1 cup of sugar to 1 cup of pulp.
5. In a medium-sized pot, add the rinds and 3 cups of water. Cook over medium heat until the rinds are tender, about 25 minutes. Cool, then add the pulp and let rest for 2 hours, covered, in the fridge.
6. In a large, wide, heavy-bottomed pot, add the pulp, the rinds and their cooking water, the sugar, and the butter.
NOTE: The butter helps keep the marmalade from foaming up, though even with butter it will still slightly foam. The marmalade will thicken quicker in a wide pot than in a deep one. Be sure the pot is not filled more than halfway to keep the mix from foaming over the pot.
7. Cook over medium-low heat for about 30 minutes. Remove the foam as it builds up, and stir the marmalade down. Use a culinary thermometer to be sure the marmalade reaches 220° in order to gel. The marmalade will darken to an amber color.
NOTE: You can do a set test by putting a bit of the marmalade on a spoon and allowing it to cool. If the marmalade wrinkles when you push it with your finger, it is ready to can. This is a loose marmalade, but if it comes out stiff, don’t worry. Just warm it up before using it in the recipes.
1. Bring 4 half-pint jars, their bands and new lids to a boil in a large pot of water with a fitted rack. Boil for 10 minutes. Remove the jars with tongs (the tongs don’t need to be sterilized). When the jars are dry but still hot, pour in the marmalade, leaving about 1 inch of headroom at the top of each jar. Wipe the rims, place on the lids, and screw on the bands fingertip tight.
2. Place the marmalade in a pot with a rack deep enough to cover the jars with 2 to 3 inches of water. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Process the marmalade for 10 minutes.
3. Turn off the heat and, after a few minutes, remove the jars. The marmalade will seem runny at first. That’s OK; it will thicken up as it cools. You will hear a popping noise as the vacuum is created in the jars.
4. Allow the jars to sit, untouched, for 6 to 8 hours. When they are cool, test the seals.
NOTE: You can test a seal by unscrewing the band and lifting the jar by the edges of the lid. If you can lift the jar, the seal is good. If the lid comes off, the seal has failed, and you must reprocess the jars with new lids. Don’t worry, though: Failure rate is usually low.)
5. Store in a cool, dark place for up to one year. Refrigerate after opening.
NOTE: Citrus is highly acidic. Because bacteria cannot grown in a high-acid environment, this marmalade can safely be water-bath canned.