Marmalade…starring grapefruit

Old fashioned primula I got from my mum’s garden..
don’t know its name but its a spring flower favourite

Spring is a busy time in my garden for weeding and mulching with seaweed, but it’s also a time when there is plenty of citrus available.

I have taken a break from the weeding to make a batch of my much appreciated grapefruit marmalade.

The recipe originated from an old Aunt Daisy cookbook and is called “Johnny’s New Zealand Grapefruit Marmalade”. I’ve changed it a little by reducing the sugar and adding coriander seed but the method remains.  It takes a few days to process but this makes the consistency of the marmalade excellent.

It’s a bitter-sweet marmalade and if you like it sweeter increase the sugar or cut back on the amount of peel used. Remember it’s the peel that has the most pectin to assist the setting.

Grapefruit Marmalade infused with Coriander
Marmalade is really a citrus jam and can be made from any combination of citrus.   The name originated in Portugal (Marmelos) and is a quince paste-like jam not citrus.   A Scottish grocer, James Keiller, of Dundee in late 18th century purchased a cargo of oranges on the cheap.   He thought they would bring him a sweet profit but discovered he had bought bitter Seville oranges.   His canny wife wasn’t going to let his error go to waste and created marmalade. Unfortunately as far as I know we don’t get Seville oranges here so we can’t make the original bitter orange marmalade.   Now that could be interesting… to try a combination of quince and citrus.   

Johnny’s NZ Grapefruit Marmalade

For every pound of fruit add 3 pints of water (500 g of fruit to 1500 ml of water).
I first cut the fruit into 4 and cut out the pips (keeping them aside).  I use the slicer fitting on my food processor to slice the fruit finely.  It can be sliced by hand but this could take quite a while. Put fruit into a large glass or ceramic bowl.  I take out any large pieces of peel and set aside.   I then put in the chopper blade on my processor and finely chop up the large pieces of peel and add to the bowl.
Tie up the pips into a piece of muslin and add to the bowl.   
Cover and sit in a cool place for 36 hours to soften the fruit.
This is the fruit soaking not yet cooked

Next in a large stock pot bring to the boil and simmer gently for an hour to 1.5 hrs until the fruit softens.  If you like add a muslin bag of coriander seed ( I use a tbsp of seeds slightly crushed for 3 lbs of fruit) for a flavour infusion.

Coriander tied in a muslin bag cooked with the fruit

The coriander gives “that extra something” to the flavour and if you wanted your marmalade more spicy you could try adding star anise.  Sometimes I use brusied cardamon pods instead of coriander – you can experiment!   Put the pulp back in the glass or ceramic bowl to sit for another 12 hours.

The fruit pulp after simmering with the coriander

The final step is measuring the pulp cup by cup into the stock pot and heat.    Measure the equivalent of 3/4 cup of sugar to every cup of pulp, and add an extra 1/2 cup of sugar for about 10 cups of pulp.   You are best to cook no more than 10 cups of pulp at a time – I usually divide the marmalade into two.   At this point you can also opt to freeze the second portion if you haven’t the time to cook both.
Put a saucer into the freezer and the oven on around 150  to heat and sterilise the jam jars.

Add sugar to hot pulp and stir until all the sugar has dissolved.  Bring to a rolling boil.  It takes  longer than jam to set.  Check for setting after 20 minutes. As it gets to a good setting point the pulp is thickening.  If you are cooking less than 10 cups the setting will happen more quickly.
To test drop some of the marmalade onto the cold saucer and see if it sets. When you push it with your finger and it wrinkles on top your marmalade is done.
Juice of a lemon assists in the setting at this point and the foam disperses if you add a tsp of butter.
Put your hot jars on a wooden surface and with a small jug carefully fill the jars with the hot liquid.  Once they are filled you then cover with cellophane jam tops by dipping them to make them wet one side only into a saucer of water and carefully stretch over the top of the jars.  Secure with a rubber band. If using jars with preserving seals, wipe away any spillage with a damp paper towel to ensure the seal works properly.  I tend to save up and re-use jars rather than buying new ones.   The advantage with the seals is that there will be no evaporation of the jam so it will keep well for over a year… my marmalade never lasts that long.

Making marmalade does take time but it is a lovely gift to give to friends and family.   If you haven’t made it before I would suggest you start with a small quantity and experiment with what flavour or level of sweet and bitter you prefer for your “signature marmalade”.
You can also mix and match with all sorts of citrus.

If you want to compare bought marmalades you can go to this link from Target:
Season 13, Ep 22 – Marmalade – Product Check – Target – Shows – TV3


Half a grapefruit is a great way to start your day.   It’s tart and tangy taste with an underlying sweetness gives you over 70% of your daily value of vitamin C and 20% of vitamin A.  
 If you want to know more about the health benefits of grapefruit go to this link:
You can make an interesting salsa with grapefruit, adding coriander leaves and chilli.  It’s good as an easy dessert  – made special by coating the cut side of a grapefruit half with honey or dark cane sugar and put under the griller for a couple of minutes to caramelise. 
I have discovered from Judith Cullen’s “Cooking Classes” recipe book a recipe I am keen to try.  

 Grapefruit Relish (great served with fish)

2 red onions thinly sliced, 2 tsp olive oil, 2 fresh small red chillies, 2 Tbsp brown sugar, 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar, 1 large grapefruit peeled and chopped.
In a saucepan heat the oil and saute onions and chilli for about 15 mins until golden and caramelised. Add the grapefruit, sugar and vinegar to the onion mix and simmer gently until the mixture has a jam-like consistency (about 8-10 mins).

This is actually a hedge line – photo taken
in the Larnach Castle gardens.

A chemical in Grapefruit may mess with some medications making the drugs too effective, e.g. if taking pills for high blood pressure eating grapefruit may cause your blood pressure to drop too low.  
Pink or ruby grapefruit has lycopene and the benefits increase if you consume with green tea – so consider replacing the good old British cup of tea for green tea with your toast and marmalade.  
Regular consumption of lycopene-rich fruits such as tomatoes, apricots, pink grapefruit, watermelon, papaya and guava may greatly reduce a man’s risk of developing prostate cancer – Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Jian L, Lee AH, et al.)  

I liked the way the gardeners have allowed this
 stray daffodil to stay in the garden at Larnach Castle 

I would like to share with you my visit to Larnach Castle gardens on the Otago Peninsula.  It took my friend Jane from Christchurch to get me to visit the gardens.   We both had heard head gardener Fiona Eadie talking on National Radio about the gardens and passing on her knowledge on what plants need.  The key is good soil made by mulching and leaving alone as much as possible.   

I must say I was totally impressed by the design and variety of the gardens.  Everything was mulched and looking so healthy and I think I will buy a garden pass for $20 so that I can see it again in summer.   Nine to Noon Mon 10 Sept Fiona Eadie

If you want to know more about Larnach Castle go to

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