Citrus Medley Marmalade
The entrance to 2015 brought the first doses of winter to our stretch of coastline in North Carolina. A shock after the near-80-degree highs on Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
With mornings now breaking cold and windy comes a desire to linger over steaming mugs of milky coffee and crumpets we baked over the weekend. Just right to spread on top — a tangy, tart trio of pink grapefruit, orange and lemon.
Marmalade — a preserve made from everything minus the seeds — has a rustic quality I very much love. Chunks of fruit and chewy strips of peel immersed in a syrup of juice plus honey. The three citrus medley makes for an extra pretty and flavorful version, hitting the right balance of sweet and bitter that marmalade is known for.
This whole citrus approach is good for our bodies as well, because it’s the peel, pith and the membranes surrounding the fruit — parts usually not eaten — that offer the most health benefits.
What’s in it for me?
Citrus fruits as a group contain a variety of nutrients that can help protect the body against disease and infection (good for these cold months!). In addition to its importance for immunity and skin health, vitamin C has potent antioxidant properties and also helps synthesis of collagen — the protein found in your skin, bones, tendons and ligaments that provides strength, structure and elasticity.
The filling soluble pectin fiber found predominantly in citrus peels may help lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and decrease risk of cardiac issues and diabetes. Citrus oils responsible for their aromas are shown to improve alertness and increase levels of the hormone serotonin to brighten your mood and decrease feelings of anxiety. Smelling any fresh cut citrus, but particularly lemon, is a method that may ward off nausea and morning sickness.
Grapefruit provides over 50% of your daily value (DV) of vitamin C and nearly 30% that of vitamin A in just half of one medium fruit. The pink and red varieties get their deep hue from the antioxidant compound lycopene known for its potential to fight cellular damage and reduce risk of cancer.
Another excellent contributor of vitamin C, lemons are also a good source of copper, and provide fair amounts of both calcium and potassium — key nutrients for blood pressure regulation. A phytochemical called limonene highly concentrated in citrus oils, particularly that of lemons, is being researched for anti-carcinogenic properties.
Clocking in at just 64 calories per medium fruit, oranges provide nearly 140% of the vitamin C DV. Oranges are also rich in flavonoids, a class of antioxidants linked to reduction in heart disease risk, and are good sources of the B-vitamin folate.
Although honey has more calories than white granulated sugar (64 vs 48, per 1 Tbsp), honey’s higher density and more intense flavor means you need less of it to sweeten. Honey also provides small amounts of minerals and antioxidants that display some antiseptic and antibacterial properties. Should you have a source for local or wild honey, the purchase not only supports hives and growers in your area, but benefits you with better flavor and higher antioxidant content.
As we take our first steps into this new year, a bright and fresh recipe whose main ingredients are also symbols of luck and prosperity seems like a deliciously excellent idea if you ask me.
Tell me… I’m craving all things fresh and vibrant after the holidays, and citrus fits the bill. How about you?
- 1 large pink grapefruit
- 4 small navel oranges (or small cara cara oranges or tangerines)
- 1 large lemon
- 1/4 tsp salt
- Mild-flavored honey
- DAY 1 // Scrub all of your citrus fruits well in hot water. Dry completely, and carefully slice very thin with a sharp knife, saving the juice but discarding any seeds. Use the tip of your knife to pick out the grapefruit cores. (Or, to save time, stack a few grapefruit slices and use an apple corer to take out the whole middle section.)
- Add the fruit slices and juice to a large measuring cup (4 c or more) to determine the starting amount. (You might need to empty the contents into the pot as you measure.) Pour the fruit slices and juice into a large, heavy-bottomed pot, and add three times as much water.
- Over medium-low heat, bring the pot’s contents up to a simmer. At that point, cover and continue cooking at a gentle simmer for 2 hours. Check it now and again to ensure it's not cooking too rapidly or slowly, adding more water if things are sticking or drying up too quickly.
- Remove the pot from the heat and let it stand at room temperature, covered, overnight. (If you’re worried about keeping a pot on the stove overnight, place it in a turned-off oven.)
- DAY 2 // Prepare 12 6-ounce or 9 half-pint jars and lids. Because the fruits vary in size from place to place and in different seasons, the total yield may vary. Place a small plate in the freezer to later test for doneness.
- Again measure the fruit and liquid in a large measuring cup. Pour the mixture into a large, heavy-bottomed pot and add the salt.
- Here's where I deviate from Fannie's instructions. The original recipe calls for sugar in equal amount to the amount of fruit and juice you have. I opted to use mild honey, and began by adding 2/3 the amount, tasting as it cooked to determine if more was necessary. (My preference is on the tart/bitter side, so I found that no additional honey was needed.)
- Place the pot over medium to medium-high heat and allow the contents to cook rapidly, stirring frequently, until the jellying point is reached. (Be mindful to avoid the contents from burning. If you think it's getting too hot, simply lower the heat.) To test for the jellying point, drop a small spoonful of the marmalade onto your frozen plate. Return it to the freezer for 1 to 2 minutes, then gently nudge the edge of the marmalade with your finger -- it’s ready when the shape holds. If the marmalade is too thin and spreads out, place the plate back in the freezer and continue cooking, stirring frequently. Test every 2 minutes or so on the refrozen plate, until the proper consistency is achieved.
- When ready, spoon the marmalade into your prepared jars, 3/4 full, and seal tightly. Promptly flip over and let cool to room temperature for several hours. Store the cooled jars in your refrigerator for 2 to 3 weeks, or in the freezer for several months. (If you wish to properly can for long-term storage in the pantry or cellar, process the filled and sealed jars in a hot water bath for 5 minutes.)
+ Mix up the citrus types with white or yellow grapefruits, pomelo, different types of oranges like the pink cara cara or deep red blood oranges, tangerines, Meyer lemons, kumquats or limes. If you prefer one over the other, the ratio of fruits can be altered as well.
+ Spice things up by tossing in a few pods of green or black cardamom, a cinnamon stick, a split vanilla bean, a couple whole cloves, and/or a whole star anise to the pot as the marmalade cooks. Remove before storing.
+ Fresh herbs will take the recipe in an entirely new, more unique direction. Mint, thyme, lavender and lemon verbena all have particular affinity for citrus fruits, but choose which type(s) you like best. Either add 1 to 3 Tbsp finely chopped herbs at the end of the cooking process before canning, OR add a whole (very well-cleaned) stem during the cooking process, removing it at the end.
+ Ginger is another smart match for citrus. Slice a 1-inch piece and let it cook down with the fruit. Remove before storing.
Adapted from The Fannie Farmer Cookbook.
Note: Honey, even pasteurized varieties, may contain botulinum endospores that cause infant botulism, a rare but serious type of food poisoning that can result in paralysis. For this reason, it is recommended that infants under 1 year of age do not consume honey.
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