Wednesday, March 19, 2008

More Marmalade Madness, or Why Cyd is My Hero

I have been remiss in sharing some really great news. My roommate recently got a raise at Dunder-Mifflin...and it was a BIG one! She really deserved it, plus it sure helped get us through this skyrocketing fuel oil season, let me tell you! So we are very grateful for the serendipitous timing of that raise. CONGRATS, Cyd! :-)

Shortly after this financial blessing, I sent her a silly email like I do, saying, "You buy me this!" with an accompanying link to an extravagant item. Now you must understand, we always do this, and it's just a joke. Like she'll send me a link to a brand-new Nissan Murano, or I'll send a link to a fabulous house for sale in the area, etc. Again, I reiterate, it's just a joke. So I sent her an email with a link to a French hand-hammered copper preserving pan that I have always longed for. I found it on Amazon for about half price, but half of an astronomical amount is still ridiculous. Yet when I went to pick her up from work that night, she handed me a printout. I thought, oh no, she's bought herself yet another pair of overpriced shoes! But when I read it more closely, I started to get all choked up when I realized that she had ordered the Mauviel pan for me! I said, fighting back my tears, "It was just a joke! I was just kidding! You didn't have to do this! You shouldn't have done this!" She just laughed and said, in all sincerity, that she was happy to be able to do it, and that she knew I would get a lot of use out of it. Can you believe that? Is that the most amazingly generous gesture ever? Cyd ROCKS! And just LOOK at it! Bask in its warm, coppery glow! Feel its hypnotic power!

So since it's Spring Break, and I have some free time, I thought it was time to return to my Marmalade Madness mode. I still need to make another batch of the wonderful honeybell marmalade, but to break in my GORGEOUS new preserving pan, I decided to try yet another June Taylor recipe--Grapefruit and Meyer Lemon Marmalade. Doesn't that just sound incredible? Well, it must have been my magical copper Mauviel, but this may have been my best batch of marmalade so far! Even if you only have a humble kettle made of some modest metal, I urge you to give this one a try. It offers a puckery burst of bittersweet sunshine when winter still lingers.

Grapefruit and Meyer Lemon Marmalade
(Source: June Taylor, via
The New York Times, Feb. 13, 2005)

5 pounds grapefruit, rinsed (I used an entire eight-pound bag, which held nine medium-sized fruits)
5 Meyer lemons or small regular lemons, rinsed (I used Meyer lemons)
1/2 cup lemon juice (from 2 to 3 additional lemons--again, I used Meyer lemon juice)
2 1/2 pounds sugar (I pushed this to 3 pounds=personal taste)

1. Remove the grapefruit skin with a vegetable peeler. Cut the peel into 1/8-inch slivers; stop when you have 3/4 cup. Slice off the ends of the grapefruit and the remaining grapefruit peel and pith. Remove grapefruit segments, reserving membrane. Stop when you have 5 cups of segments. (I ended up using nine grapefruits to get enough segments, when five pounds was less than six grapefruits...hmm, curious).

2. Cut the ends off the Meyer lemons, deep enough so you can see the flesh. Leaving the peel on, remove the segments of lemon and reserve the membrane. Cut the segments crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces. (Not being a fan of super-bitter marmalade, I decided to remove the Meyer lemon skin as with the grapefruit, slice it very thinly, cut off the rind from the lemons and discard, supreme the segments, and reserve the membranes for pectin.) Put membranes from the grapefruit and Meyer lemons in a jelly bag and tie closed. (In the jelly bag--my trusty Bed Bath and Beyond cheesecloth tied up with kitchen twine--I also added the leftover grapefruit peels and the Meyer lemon halves that I juiced but did not peel.)

3. In a wide and deep pot (or a fabulous French copper preserving pan if you're lucky enough to have one!), combine the grapefruit segments, grapefruit peel, lemon pieces and jelly bag. Add lemon juice and 2 1/2 cups water. Simmer until the grapefruit peel is tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool. (For me, this is usually the end of day one. It makes it much more humane to split the work over two days.)

4. Preheat the oven to 225 degrees. Working over a bowl in your sink, squeeze the liquid from the jelly bag; keep squeezing and wringing it out until you extract 1/3 to 1/2 cup of pectin. Add pectin and sugar to the pot. Place over high heat and boil, stirring now and then, until marmalade is between 222 and 225 degrees and passes the plate test*. (Spoon a little onto a plate and put in the fridge for 3 minutes. If it thickens like jam, it is done.)

5. Meanwhile, put 6 (to 8) sterilized 8-ounce canning jars and lids on a baking sheet and place in the oven (I just keep mine in the water bath canner as it comes to a boil). When jam is done, remove jars from the oven. Ladle jam into the jars, filling them as high as possible. Wipe the rims. Fasten the lid tightly. Let cool. If you don't get a vacuum seal, refrigerate the jam**. Makes 6 8-ounce jars of marmalade. (I got 8!)

*My marmalade, as usual, never did get past 218-219 degrees (perhaps it's time for a new candy thermometer?). So I rely on how it looks and if it crinkles on a cold plate when pushed with your finger. Despite Ms. Taylor's warnings to not go much past 45 minutes, my marmalade is always runny if cooked for less than an hour. Usually it's about an hour and ten minutes on my stove, even with the fancy French cookware!

**Again, I like to play it safe, so I avoid the "open kettle" method. After jarring up the marmalade, I processed it in a boiling water bath for ten minutes. (This also ensures that I may legally sell the product in New York State if I feel compelled to part with any!)


Randi said...

Gorgeous pot. Robin and I saw a similar pot at Home Goods in MI last month. It was about 40bucks, but it wasnt the french brand.

I just came back from FL and my friend there gave me HUGE meyer lemons, I'd never seen any so big!! I'm not a marmalade fan though so I think I'll make some madelines.

Randi said...

Ok, are you sure you're not Jewish? You guilted me into writing not 1, but 2 posts!!