Did you ever discover something that made you wonder how you ever lived without it? That's my story nowadays with marmalade. In fact, I've become quite the marmalade aficionado, finding all kinds of ways to use this amazing condiment in my culinary endeavors.
In fact, now, I always have marmalade in my fridge and a stash in the freezer too. To me, good marmalade is like a container of sweet sunshine and useful in a zillion ways. It’s well known as a breakfast treat, but did you know that marmalade makes a fabulous, quick appetizer? I often combine marmalade, a splash of rice vinegar, and a squirt of hot sauce (like Sriracha). Then I spoon it over cream cheese or goat cheese, scatter it with a bit of finely chopped cilantro and serve with crackers or crisp crostini. Everyone wonders what that sweet, spicy, delicious sauce is.
Marmalade also makes a wonderful glaze for chicken, shrimp, or pork. It’s a delightful dipping sauce, and it can transform roasted veggies into a fabulous, sticky treat, slightly akin to candy. Here at The Café, we use it in a myriad of ways.
This is the perfect time of year to make marmalade. Citrus fruit is inexpensive and at its prime. I’ve tried lots of different marmalade recipes over the years, but have become quite partial to the freezer marmalade I’m sharing today. To me, it just can’t be beat for three reasons.
First: This type of marmalade has a minimal cooking time; just a brief stint in the microwave or on the stove top to dissolve the sugar is all it takes. The bright, fresh taste of the sunny citrus fruit is retained, along with its beautiful vibrant color.
Second: It’s not bitter like many marmalades are. I use only the fresh-tasting zest, instead of the whole peel most traditional recipes use.
Third and last: This is something I’d rather keep between you and me. Promise? It’s that I’m quite lazy, and freezer jam might just be the easiest thing I make. It’s really true; if you can do a bit of chopping and stirring, that’s about all it takes. There’s no standing over a hot stove or sterilizing jars. There’s no need for canning knowledge. A batch of freezer marmalade comes together in less than a hour.
Like the name implies, it can be stored in the freezer, although it keeps well in the fridge for weeks. If you don’t have a lot of space in your freezer, just store it in zippered plastic bags and transfer to a pretty jar when when you’re ready to use it… or gift it. Oh yes, marmalade makes a lovely hostess gift or a special treat for neighbors, friends, teachers, etc.
Marmalade can be created from any citrus fruit or combination of fruits. I’ve made all kinds of variations over the years using lemons, clementines, tangerines, and limes, in addition to classic orange marmalade. Even the traditional orange version can have as many adaptations as there are varieties of oranges; Seville, blood, Valencia, navel, mandarin, etc
The recipe I’m sharing with you today is for Ruby Red Grapefruit and Orange Marmalade. That’s what was on sale at the market this week, but feel free to swap out the fruit; just keep the measurements the same. A few other versions I’ve made are: Orange-Pineapple Marmalade, Meyer Lemon, Orange and Fresh Ginger Marmalade, Clementine-Cranberry Marmalade, and Ruby Red Grapefruit and Strawberry Marmalade.
Honestly, once you try this fabulous fresh condiment, you won’t want to go back to store-bought marmalade. I have a feeling your freezer will be like mine; never without a few jars of this sweet citrus sunshine!
- 3 medium navel oranges
- 3 medium pink ruby grapefruit
- 2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 4¼ cups sugar
- ¾ cup water
- 1 box powdered fruit pectin
Prepare glass jars or plastic containers with lids by washing them in hot soapy water or in a dishwasher. Recipe makes 5 cups of jam. Number of jars you'll need will depend on the size of your jars.
Remove the colored part of peel from the oranges and grapefruit using a vegetable peeler or zester. I like to use the kind shown in the photos above. It works perfectly to remove small strips of zest. If you use a vegetable peeler, cut the peel into thin slivers, or finely chop. Peel and discard the remaining white part of peel from the oranges.
Coarsely chop the orange and grapefruit, discarding any membranes and saving the juice. Mix fruit and juice with the zest and lemon juice. Measure 2-⅓ cups of the fruit mixture into a large microwave-safe bowl. If you have extra, discard or save for another use. (See note.) Add sugar and stir for 1 minute.
Microwave on high for 3 minutes. Stir well and microwave again for another 2 minutes. Stir until all sugar crystals are dissolved, another minute or two. Taste, and if mixture is still "grainy," microwave again for another minute or two to dissolve any remaining sugar crystals.
Combine the water and pectin in small saucepan. Bring to boil on high heat, stirring constantly. Allow mixture to boil for 1 minute, stirring continuously. Add to fruit mixture and stir for 3 minutes.
Fill all containers to within ½" of tops. Wipe off top edges of containers and cover with lids. Let stand at room temperature 24 hours. Marmalade is now ready to use. Store in refrigerator up to 3 weeks or freeze up to one year.