Citrus Marmalade

I adore pomelos.

I think the scent of a ripe pomelo is absolutely intoxicating. Truthfully, they’re in the kind of the same category as glitter and sparkly things for me, meaning that if I walk past them at a market, I get distracted like a little kid, forget what I was doing, and wander over to the pomelo display, where I have to pick them up and smell them for a few minutes.

If you’re unfamiliar with pomelos, they’re these absolutely massive, pale yellow citrus fruits that taste like a very sweet grapefruit.  They have a really thick peel, which, according to wikipedia, “is sometimes used to make marmalade.”  Very good, wikipedia, you’re quite right.

I had two of them sitting in my kitchen for a few days, and I ended up in the middle of a marmalade frenzy on the morning of January 1st, throwing together all of the citrus fruit I had in my kitchen into one delightful batch. This recipe turned out delicious, with a nice set and and just the right ratio of citrus jelly to citrus peel.  (My boyfriend, who has about 15 years of professional cooking experience, tastes almost every single batch of marmalade I make, thinks for a moment, and almost always says “too much peel.”  Well, I think I finally got it right on this one.  The slices of peel are elegantly suspended in a liberal amount of the sweet citrus jelly).

I have to say, though, citrus fruits are lucky that they come into season in the middle of the winter, when no one is trying to plant tomatoes or pick green beans or can peaches, because, shoot, this recipe is elaborate, to say the least.  Maybe they knew we’d be sitting around wishing for a project since the weather’s too gray and cold for gardening.  a properly gelled marmalade on January 1st is most certainly a good omen

If you have some patience and your knife is sharp, I highly recommend this recipe.  I’ve used five different types of citrus fruit and used two different styles of preparing the rinds to result in what I think will be the best texture in the finished marmalade.  It may be time consuming to make, but spread on a toasted english muffin with butter, it’s all worth it.  

Citrus Marmalade

makes: about 9 1/2 half pint jars

cook time: it’s not fast…  this is a more advanced level recipe, which doesn’t mean beginners shouldn’t tackle it, it just means it will take a lot of time if you don’t already know your way around an orange

Ingredients:

  • 2 pomelos
  • 1 grapefruit
  • a handful of kumquats (it was going to be more but I ate them)
  • 2 navel oranges
  • 2 lemons (not meyer- just plain old normal lemons)
  • 8 cups of water, either filtered or spring
  • 8 cups of sugar

Instructions- stay with me, I know it’s long:

Day 1:  Prepare the fruit and combine it with the water

To prepare the pomelos:

Run either a sharp knife or a sharp vegetable peeler around the outside of the pomelos, removing the colored part of the rind and leaving behind the pith.  Stack the pieces of rind in a pile and slice them into the thinnest strips you can manage.  If the finished strips are on the long side, cut them in half or thirds (you want them to fit nicely into a spoon for the finished marmalade, not to be pomelo noodles).  Set the finished pomelo rind aside in a mixing bowl.  Now, cut off the layer of white pith to reveal the colored fruit.  Use your knife to remove individual segments from the fruit, leaving behind the bitter membranes.  Roughly chop the fruit segments into bite size pieces.  Set the prepared fruit pieces aside in the mixing bowl.  If you’d like to see pictures, see the older version of this recipe, where I’ve got step-by-step photos.*

To prepare the grapefruit:

Use the same method as described above, using only the outer part of the rind and the segments of fruit.  Combine the finished fruit segments and sliced strips of peel with the prepared pomelo in your mixing bowl.

To prepare the kumquats:

Slice off the tip where the stem was attached.  Next, slice the kumquat in half. Remove any little seeds.  Next, each half of the kumquat into very thin strips.  Combine the prepared kumquat with the prepared grapefruit and pomelo.

To prepare the lemons and oranges:

Slice off the blossom and stem end of the fruit.  Slice the fruit into quarters.  Slice off the pithy center of each quarter, where the membranes join together and the seeds are hiding.  Lay out the pieces of fruit so that the skin side is facing you and slice the oranges and lemons into the thinnest pieces you can manage.  Hitchhiking to Heaven has a post with some pictures of this process if you’d like some visual clarification.   Combine the prepared oranges and lemons with the other prepared fruit.

Next:

Combine the fruit and the water in a nonreactive container and let it sit for 24 hours.

Day 2 (the easy part):

Bring boiling water canner to a boil.  Wash jars and lids in hot, soapy water.

Put the fruit mixture into a large, nonreactive pot.  Turn the heat on medium and bring to a simmer.  Simmer the fruit for 20 minutes to soften the rinds.  Pour in the sugar and stir to combine everything.  Turn the heat to high, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the marmalade reads 220 on a candy thermometer or passes whatever gel test you like.**

Ladle the hot marmalade into hot jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace.  Process for 10 minutes.

*This whole recipe is a new version of the very first recipe that I posted on this site, a pomelo marmalade with rosewater and cardamom. That recipe was tasty, but this one is better.  I ditched the exotic spices in this version, but if you wanted to, you could absolutely add them back in at the same time that you add the sugar.  Oh, and I left them out because I have literally no marmalade in the pantry right now, and I wanted something clean and bright to start with, not because I didn’t like how they turned out.  Cardamom and rosewater are super good with pomelos.

**My candy thermometer is officially not accurate, so I’m back to using the spoon test. (Picture here) It was really simple and the marmalade gelled just fine, which makes me wonder about getting a new thermometer.

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Pomelo Marmalade With Rosewater and Cardamom

Welcome to my shiny new blog! I hope that you keep reading and maybe try out a few of the recipes and projects that will be appearing here. Check back often- 2011 should be a pretty action packed year. Anyway, enough with the introductions, time to make some marmalade!

So, Reader, since we’re just getting to know each other, a few basics first-  If you want your jam to be really, really amazing the key is to get your hands on the highest quality, freshest fruit at the peak of the season.   Avoid grocery stores like the plague. Fruit should come from your own garden, your neighbor’s tree, a farmer that you know, or a local farmers market.  While buying local and organic is certainly very trendy right now, the reason to seek out this produce is really flavor.  Ethically, it is important to support small farms, cut down on your carbon footprint, etc., but the fact of the matter is that this fruit is just going to taste infinitely better.  If you were to do a blind taste test, the local, in season produce will win every time.  You’ll really know it’s time to make marmalade when you’re at the farmers market and you can actually smell the oranges and grapefruit before you can see them.

Even though I live in California, it’s the dead of winter right now- pouring rain, freezing cold, dark at 4:30 pm.  I am dying to get on a plane and go somewhere exotic, where I will need a passport, sunblock, and a little book to translate common phrases like “this is the most beautiful beach I’ve ever seen” and “why yes, freshly caught lobster sounds lovely,” or “a cocktail would be wonderful, thank you.” This marmalade is a little jar of happy intentions and new year’s resolutions to travel a little bit more and work in the garden a little bit less.  Oh, and it’s totally delicious,  floral, citrusy and exotic.

Rosewater, green cardamom pods, and saffron add extra dimension.

How to Prepare Fruit For Marmalade

Of course you must start with sharp knives:

This can get kind of tedious here. You might want to drink a beer or something  to make it more fun. Take your time and do a good job though, and you’ll be happy about it later when your friends are praising your excellent marmalade-making skills.

We want only the colored, outer part of the rind.

Stack the pieces of the rind on top of each other and slice through them to make julienned strips.

Repeat with all the fruit. (Dream of tropical vacations!)

Cut off the ends and the white part of the fruit.  Use your knife to separate the fruit from the membrane.

Your prepared fruit should look something like this:

Chop the wedges into small pieces. Put them into your pot.

Pomelo Marmalade with Cardamom and Rosewater

Ingredients:

  • 1 large pomelo
  • 2 oranges
  • 2 meyer lemons
  • 1 tsp. rosewater
  • 2 c. water
  • 1 c. fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 1/8 tsp. saffron (use either Spanish or Mexican depending on your budget)
  • 6 green cardamom pods
  • 5 c. sugar
  • 3 tsp. Pomona’s calcium water
  • 4 1/2 tsp. Pomona’s pectin powder
  1. Fill your canner with water and bring it to a boil. Wash jars and lids. Put jars on a cookie sheet in the oven at 150 degrees until you are ready to fill them.* Put the lids in a bowl and cover with boiling water from the canner.
  2. Wash fruit thoroughly.
  3. Make calcium water (see instructions inside Pomona’s box). Measure 4 1/2 c. of sugar and set aside in a large bowl. In a small bowl, combine the other 1/2 c. sugar with the pectin powder and whisk well, making sure to avoid any clumps of pectin powder. Set aside.
  4. Using a small sharp knife or veggie peeler, remove outermost layer of the rind from the fruit, avoiding the white as much as possible.
  5. Working in batches, make small stacks of the colored rind and julienne into thin strips.
  6. To prepare the fruit for cooking, cut off the white rind, exposing the fruit inside.  Using a sharp paring knife, cut in between the membranes and each section of fruit, and lift out each wedge. Chop the prepared wedges, and set aside. (See illustrations below, in “How to prepare fruit for marmalade”
  7. Squeeze 1 c. fresh orange juice.
  8. In a large, nonreactive pot, combine the prepared fruit and rinds, 2 c. water, 1c. orange juice, 6 green cardamom pods, 2 tbs. rosewater, and 3 tsp. calcium water. Cover, and cook on low heat, stirring occasionally, until rinds are soft (about 30 minutes).
  9. Turn heat to medium high and stir in 4 1/2 c. sugar. Bring to a boil, and then stir in the pectin-sugar mixture. Bring to a full, rolling boil and cook for 1-2 minutes. (Marmalade will reach sheet stage)
  10. Ladle into hot jars leaving 1/8 inch headspace. Wipe rims clean and screw on lids. Process for 5 minutes.

yield: about 8 half pint jars.

*It is not really necessary to sterilize your jars in the oven, since they will be processed later. I’ve had jars crack in the canner when they weren’t hot though, so now I always do it. Hot jam, hot jars, hot water seems like the way to go.

Recipe Ideas

  • Heat 1/2 c. marmalade with a few teaspoons of butter and a little chicken broth to make a sauce for sauteed chicken breasts, top with slivered almonds.
  • Mix with couscous (add the marmalade to the cooking broth). Garnish with chopped cilantro and toasted pine nuts.
  • Marinade for grilled lamb skewers (whisk together equal parts marmalade and olive oil, add a dash of mustard or vinegar for more acid). Serve with olives and pita bread.