I’ve been workin’ in the kitch-en, all the live-long daaaay

Marmalade production line. Part II.

After reading my post about my first foray into the world of jam making, my lovely friend procured for  me a shirtload of grapefruit in need of a good home. Buoyed by my initial success, and my surprise at how much easier the process had been than I expected, I gladly took on the challenge of making a big BIG batch of grapefruit marmalade.

I couldn’t decide quite what method to use-would I peel the grapefruit then cut the peel very finely, and the fruit flesh into chunks? Or should I cut the whole lot up altogether at the same time? None of my go-to trusty recipe books had much to say on the matter, and a search of the ol’ interwebs seemed to yield a hung jury. So I decided to cut the peel and fruit separately, which I think was the right decision in the end. Nothing spoils a nice bite of marmalade on toast like a big chunk of undercooked peel.

So after giving the fruit a thorough scrubbing, I hit a small snag when I realised that I had no spare jars. The same friend who had procured the fruit for me also very kindly offered to drag her stash of jars in to a central meeting spot on the bus, but I knew I wouldn’t see her until this batch of fruit was well past its’ prime. So I scrambled around in the pantry and fridge and cleaned out any jars that had one lonely gherkin or 2 teaspoons of tomato paste languishing at the bottom. I also pulled out my Great Aunt’s Fowlers Preserving Jars which I recently inherited. I figured one or two (or five!) of them would do in a pinch…

Seeing me standing  behind the mountain of grapefruit on a Saturday night (yep, we are quite the party animals these days) Mr Hen took pity on me and came to help, which was quite nice as he usually tries to stay out of the way when I start one of my all-consuming projects.

So we peeled and chopped and seeded and chopped and peeled some more. And I got almost no questions right on Rockwiz.

it begins

it begins

now that's a lotta grapefruit

now that's a lotta grapefruit

Finally we heaped the mountain of fruit into our biggest non-reactive mixing bowl, capacity 10 litres, and filled it right to the brim. And that was only 2/3 of the fruit. With the tiny amount of space left in the bowl, I filled it to the top with cold water, and put the pips we had collected into a small square of muslin, tied at the top and included with the fruit to steep overnight.

Well, I ended up having to wait til the day after the day after to make the marmalade, life working as it does these days. So I measured the fruit and soaking water into my giant spaghetti-boiling pot-16 cups was all I could fit, that was about half of the cut fruit in the bowl-and cooked the fruit on medium heat until the peel had become nice and soft before adding the sugar. Because you need cup for cup sugar to fruit ratio, and because I hadn’t realised just how much fruit there was going to be when it was all cut up, I had to raid all of the sugar supplies in the house, and then I only just made the 16 cups (!!) necessary. So there ended up being a mixture of raw and caster sugar in the jam, which really didn’t seem to cause any problems in the end. But boy, that is a LOT of sugar. Once the sugar was in, I followed the same method as I had for the cumquat marmy. I used my candy thermometer to watch for the temperature hitting 105 degrees C before doing a drop test-a little jam dropped into a saucer of cold water, and then running my finger through the middle of the blob to see if a nice clean trail was left behind.

I think that this batch got to setting point a lot sooner than the cumquat seemed to. Maybe more pectin in grapefruit pips? Anyway, off the heat, into the pyrex jug and then poured into the warm, sterilised jars waiting on their insulating wooden board beside the stove. Lids on and then the jars sat on the board for the rest of the arvo to cool without getting thermal shock from the granite benchtop.

finished product

finished product

There was so much cut fruit left over, and this time I was well and truly out of jars until I saw my friend for lunch and a jar exchange (her empties for some of mine with the marmalade) so I decided to freeze the rest of the fruit for another time. I have read a few different opinions about making jam from frozen fruit, but from what I can tell, citrus is pretty hardy and the marmalade generally works out either way. Hope so.

So now I have a tree full of ripe lemons, another with quite a few limes, and another with about 25 tangelos. These are only 3 year old trees, and this is the first year I have allowed them to fruit, so I am pretty proud of this harvest. But for now, no more marmalade. The lemons are destined for preserved lemons and lemon butter, the limes will be squeezed and their juice frozen for use in cooking, and the tangelos? They’ll be fine to eat just as they are.

I tell ye somethin’ ye salty dogs-there be no scurvy around these parts this winter. Vitamin C for everyone! Arrrgh.

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~ by Little Red Hen on May 31, 2009.

2 Responses to “I’ve been workin’ in the kitch-en, all the live-long daaaay”

  1. Totally unrelated to your very fine marmalade, but what happened to the chicken?

    • Little Chick went back home to her house, where I hear she is enthusiastically taking indoor dustbaths in an icecream container full of sand during the inclement weather, and thus is the cause of much sweeping…

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