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Sticky and triumphant

I can make relish, jam and pickles, but I always assumed marmalade was in the advanced category. I think it’s because every recipe I read gave finicky and painstaking instructions regarding the removal of pith, zesting the skin, fine slivers of lime peel curling like the eyelashes of kittens…I’m as impressed by a croquembouche as the next blogger, but that shit is not for me. And anyway, I don’t eat much marmalade. Didn’t seem worth pursuing.


But some things don’t seem to be determined by my conscious mind. I noticed limes in the fridge, ginger in the cupboard, enormous ruby grapefruits in the fruit bowl. No big deal. Normal life, que sera sera, c’est la vie ordinaire mon petit choux-fleur. And then I was chilling with a cup of tea at work and I suddenly thought of those three things all at the same time and knew I had to have marmalade. I mean: grapefruit, lime and ginger? That is GOLD, son.

Criteria for recipe: easy with no dicking about; must produce a sour and/or bitter concoction; must not require overnight sitting. Mostly because it was Sunday and I wanted it NOW. Turns out I’m not a unique and special little snowflake in this regard. Came across this marmalade post on Thursday Night Smackdown, and it seemed like my sorta thing. Only, of course, I wasn’t using lemons. Thursday Night Smackdown’s recipe was an adaptation of this one on Sally and her teacakes. Essentially, you boil your fruit, whole, until it’s soft and squalchy and then purée it. Pick out any seeds, then add sugar, water and any other flavours you want to add, and start boiling. I boiled my enormous ruby grapefruit with a couple of limes: it took about half an hour, which was quicker than I thought. Then into the food processor! Whiz! Squalch! Splurt! (Sexy.)

It's there, trust me.

I added fresh ginger, crystallised ginger, half a cup or so of pineapple juice (because we had some and why not and stop asking questions) and sugar and a little water. Boiled everything until, well, until it was marmalade. And boy howdy snap-pants, is it ever! YEAH! On toast: beautiful. Stirred through Greek yoghurt, awwwwHELLZyes. Yeah marmalade! IS THERE NOTHING I CANNOT MAKE? (The answer is no, but that results in a triple negative — too much for you? TOO MUCH GRAMMAR?)

Gel test, as if I can't tell what marmalade is.

But my triumph could be greater. Here’s what I’ll do next time:

  • Purée it to a much smoother pulp. Really really really smooth: the texture of this batch is a little on the chunky side.
  • Simmer the fresh ginger in some sugar syrup, or use only crystallised stuff: it’s a little blunt as is.
  • Use more pineapple juice in place of water.
  • Make more. Much, much more. I only had one grapefruit and two limes, so I only got three jars outta this. They have not lasted very long.

If there’s any lesson to be gained from this (apart from how splendid I, as a cooker, am, but that’s more a gentle reminder than a lesson as such) it’s this: if there’s something you want to try cooking, do it. It’s likely to be easier than you think (unless you’re making, like, walrus consommé or something), and the sense of chuffedness when you realise “YEAH, one more thing I can make for myself” is unmatched.

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