"But whatever did you do for food?" asked Mr Brown. "You must be starving."Bending down, the bear unlocked the suitcase with a small key, which it also had around its neck, and brought out an almost empty glass jar. "I ate marmalade," he said, rather proudly. "Bears like marmalade."
A Bear Called Paddington, Michael Bond
I’ve been making this fantastically easy marmalade for years - I discovered it in Nigella Lawson’s How to be a Domestic Goddess, while searching for edible gifts to make during my first December in the UK. It’s now a regular feature on my Christmas gift list, and something that always goes down well. As much as I enjoy a classic orange marmalade, this pink grapefruit version is sharp, sweet and, in my opinion, even better than the original. It’s also incredibly versatile - brilliant spooned over porridge, churned through rich vanilla ice-cream, baked into tarts or cakes or simply eaten with tea and toast (and a good slice of cheddar).
So, although Paddington Bear probably wouldn’t approve, I am presenting a different version of the marmalade he brought with him, all the way from Peru. Hopefully he’d be happy to give it a try - I reckon it could convert him.
ps. Some of you regulars may be assuming that this will be my last post before the holiday break. Well, lucky readers, you couldn't be more wrong. Next week will see a very special week full of recipes (six, to be precise) inspired by some of my favourite Christmas stories. In the meantime, I hope your present wrapping is going well.
Pink Grapefruit Marmalade
Makes around a litre - enough to fill three 280mL gift jars with some leftover (for personal use)
2 large pink grapefruit
1kg preserving sugar*
Juice of 2 lemons
*Preserving sugar is a large crystal sugar with no added pectin. Grapefruit are naturally high in pectin, so you don't need to use jam sugar for this recipe. Using preserving sugar will mean that the sugar melts evenly and slowly, resulting in a clearer marmalade than if you use regular granulated sugar (though if you can't find jam sugar, this will do fine - just skim the top as your jam boils).
Enough sterilised jars to take 1L of marmalade
1. Fill the saucepan with water and put the grapefruit in whole - there should be enough water for them to float freely, without resting against each other or the side of the saucepan. Bring the water to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook the grapefruit for around two hours, until they are very soft. Check them every now and then, and top up the water if its level drops. After around an hour, place a plate in the freezer to prepare for the marmalade testing.
2. If your jars are not yet sterilised, this is the time to start. Heat your oven to around 60C. Wash the jars and lids in very hot soapy water, then fill with boiling water and stand for a minute. Being very careful not to burn yourself (I put oven mitts on), empty the water out, then place the jars and lids upside down in the warm oven. Leave them in the oven to dry out until the marmalade is ready.
3. Remove the grapefruit from the saucepan and discard the water. Let the fruit cool a little, then transfer them to the shallow bowl and (using the tongs to hold them in place) slice thinly. If you come across any large pips, remove them; otherwise you should keep all zest, pith, flesh and juice in the bowl.
4. Transfer all the chopped grapefruit (including the juice) back into the cleaned and dried saucepan, and add the sugar and lemon juice. Let the sugar melt over a low-medium heat, stirring occasionally to ensure the marmalade doesn't stick on the bottom.
5. Simmer the marmalade for 20-25 minutes until setting point is reached, continuing to stir occasionally. To test whether the marmalade is ready, first turn off the stove. Take the plate out of the freezer, drop a teaspoon of the marmalade onto it, wait for 20 seconds and then push one edge. If it wrinkles, rather than remaining a liquid, then the marmalade is ready. If it's not there yet, turn the heat back on under the saucepan and continue to boil.
6. Once the marmalade is ready, remove the jars from the oven and transfer the marmalade into them. Seal the jars while the marmalade is still hot and leave to cool.