On the heels of the beautiful Floridian citrus I received a few weeks ago, I just received an abundant box of mixed citrus from the trees of wintering relatives in Arizona. They felt the cold was harsh this year, the oranges not as good as usual however I found in opening the box, sheer beauty in the form and colors, and delight at the prospect of what I’d do with it all. The finite quantity of such seasonal treasures lends itself to appreciation for the end product all year long.
Before the holidays I shared I have my grandmother’s recipe box. It’s filled with hand written and typewriter typed recipes with fabulous names like ‘Good Cookies’ or ‘Hor D’Oeurve‘ (you can click those titles for some entertainment). One caught my eye a bit ago which was a three citrus marmalade. It’s in my great grandmother’s handwriting though attributed to someone names ‘Mrs. Dillon’. I’d date it back to the first half of last century. I do make jam, though most always with organic pectin that allows use of honey instead of sugar, but was quite taken with this recipe. Some aspects were not something I was able to do so my end recipe is a modification but one that stays true to Mrs. Dillon’s intent I believe.
The way I modified the recipe the marmalade contains small bits of fruit and peel versus long pieces of the peel. I reduced the amount of sugar and the quantity of the oranges and lemons. Though this recipe is not difficult, it’s lengthy due to the soaking time, causing it to span over a few days. It’s a great weekend recipe with the last stage timing out when you have some time by the stove to allow it to boil down.
Vintage 3 Citrus Marmalade
This is a sizeable batch of marmalade. Unless you plan to can it, give it to lots of friends or eat it for every meal you might consider cutting it in half or a fourth. I did process mine in a water canner though I think you could just refrigerate it if you plan to eat it straight away (another reason you might not want a mega batch).
Yield: 4-12 oz jelly jars, 8-8 oz jelly jars
INGREDIENTS and SUPPLIES
· 2 grapefruit
· 10 small to medium sized oranges
· 3 lemons
· 4 pounds granulated sugar (I use organic)
· Jars and lids
· Candy thermometer
1. Wash each fruit as the peel is included in the recipe. Cut each citrus fruit into quarters and place in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the fruit is in small pieces.
2. Measure and place fruit into a large, non-reactive pot with lid. Cover with 3 times the volume in water (e.g. I had 7 pints of pulverized fruit/juice and added 21 pints of water to the pot). Cover and let sit overnight (or for 12 hours). I did not refrigerate mine.
3. The following morning bring the mixture to a boil, boil hard for 30 minutes. Stir periodically to prohibit any burning of the pulpy fruit. Turn off heat, cover and allow to sit 24 hours.
4. After the 24 hour rest period, bring the mixture to a boil again, this time with the purpose of reducing the volume. It will need to boil for a few hours. The vintage recipe I have had 2 hours in my great grandmother’s writing which is written over to be 4 hours in my grandmother’s writing. I boiled mine until is definitely had reduced by about a 1/3 and seemed much more dense. You’ll note at first it looks like yellow corn soup but deepens in amber color as the process continues.
5. When the mixture has consolidated and does not seem as watery, the sugar will be added. I added 4 pounds of sugar to my mixture. This is less than the prescribed 1 pound per pint in the vintage recipe but enough to take the edge off the tartness of the citrus peel. Sugar is what sets the end consistency as well so I realized the recipe needs a fairly high base level of sugar to set in the absence of adding pectin.
6. Bring the mixture to a boil and boil until it reaches 220 degrees, (gel or soft ball stage), on a candy thermometer. NOTE: I boiled mine for 1-2 hours and it would not reach 220 degrees (only a bit over 200) and I’m unsure if that has to do with the water remaining in the fruit mixture, the altitude (I’m at 5,500 feet) or the amount of sugar. I did note a thickening over time as well as a significant deepening of color. When it was at a gel stage I proceeded to can it regardless of it not officially hitting 220 degrees.
7. If you are refrigerating, spoon the marmalade into the jars and allow them to cool fully before putting them in the refrigerator. If canning, process in a water bath for 10 minutes (I did for 15 minutes due to the altitude).
My personal recipe ‘math’: I started with 7 pints of fruit/juice. I added 21 pints of water to soak. By the end of the first boil down I ended with 19 pints total fruit/water. I added the 4 pounds of sugar. I ended with approximately 7 pints of marmalade.
The marmalade is delicious and the perfect blend of sweet and tangy in my opinion. It is not a hard gel either but more spreadable. It is definitely a celebration of the handpicked citrus I’ll enjoy all year!