A few weeks back we embarked on a (semi-)healthy eating regime in an attempt to combat the effects of consuming all the things that I’ve been posting. To be fair we did stick to it for over a month but then one morning the prospect of grapefruit for breakfast again seemed too much. This has resulted in a pair of ruby grapefruit sitting forlornly abandoned in the fruit bowl for over a week.
I’ve opted to give them a reprieve by turning them into marmalade but with a bit of a twist by incorporating some fresh thyme. The lemon was largely there to make-up the quantity of fruit but the flavour works really well.
Whilst I’ve made marmalade before I have never bothered to make it completely from scratch – a can of Marmade has always been involved and I’ve just tarted it up at the end some whiskey or some such. Looking at a few recipes, they all seemed to involve boiling the whole fruits for several hours and then squeezing it all through a muslin bag. I will freely admit to having absolutely no attention span and a very low boredom threshold so there was no way that I was going to be able to use that method.
I like quite a thick marmalade packed with slithers of citrusy peel so I made it more like an orange jam. I used a vegetable peeler to remove the zest of the fruits and trimmed away any of the pith that was left behind. Leaving the white pith would make it very bitter. I also peeled away all of the membrane from the segments of the fruits because they would only end up chewy and generally unpleasant.
Don’t feel obliged to use the thyme if you try this – I realise that it’s not for everyone but I do think that the little flecks of green look so pretty suspended like petals in the thick amber goo.
makes about 600ml
1kg of whole fruit (I used 2 ruby grapefruits and 1 lemon)
600g jam sugar (the type with pectin added to it)
a big handful of thyme
small knob of butter
Put a saucer in the freezer.
Give the fruit and the herbs a really good wash.
Remove the thyme leaves from the stalks and set aside.
Carefully cut or peel away the rind from the fruits, trimming off any pith that comes away with it. Cut this into little slithers, as thick or thin as you like.
Next remove all the white pith from the fruit, peeling or cutting, whichever way you find easiest. Once you have nice clean fruit you can set about liberating the segments from their membranes. I do this over a bowl so that I don’t waste any juice. Again you can either use your fingers or a knife. Don’t worry if the flesh breaks up a bit, it’ll all turn to mush in the end.
Put the sugar, fruit and rind into a large, heavy based saucepan. Add the water and stir. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat a little and let the mixture gently bubble away for around an hour.
Check to see if the marmalade has reached it’s setting point by carefully putting a blob of it on the saucer that you chilled in the freezer earlier. Push your finger through it and if it wrinkles then it’s ready. If not then keep it boiling and test it every five minutes or so.
Once the setting point has been reached remove it from the heat and stir through the thyme and a knob of butter to disperse the foam. If you do end up going beyond the setting point (easily done without a jam thermometer) then the marmalade can go a bit treacley – you might be able to recover this a bit by adding a splash of water once it has cooled a little.
Carefully ladle into warm, sterilised jars. Seal, label and store in a dark place.
Don’t feel like you have to restrict this preserve to toast, here are a few suggestions;
Mix a dollop into carrot cake batter for extra tang.
Use it to make marmalade cake or muffins.
Marmalade bread & butter pudding.
Melt a spoonful with some water and a diced red chili to make a sticky glaze for prawns or salmon.
Melt some with a splash of Cointreau and pour over plain loaf cakes.