Once again, citrus season is upon us, and once again, I ordered a box of delicious Rio Red grapefruit from G & S Groves in McAllen, Texas. While I’ve been happily munching through some of my 12 pounds of pink-yellow-and-red glory, I had to save some for a batch (or two) of marmalade, lest my marm-lovin’ hubs revolt.
Although the flavor of last year’s vanilla bean version was lovely, the set left much to be desired, and this year, I just wasn’t feeling the vanilla-love. Too sweet. Too pedestration. Too lacking in alliteration. Guajillo now: spicy. Smoky. Hip. Now. And eminently fun to say. Say it with me: gwah-heeeeeeeeeeeeeee-yoh. Guajillo. Guajillo. If you say it really fast, you’ll sound just like Beavis.
For this year’s version, I added two guajillo chiles, and decided to macerate with sugar for the 3-day marmalade process, à la Mme. Ferber, in order to test any effects on the set. While the set of this marm is a definte improvement over last year’s rock hardness, it is still a little firm for my taste; certainly not of the lovely cara cara chile marmalada variety (I guess I really do need to add tequila to everything). This year’s is spreadable, if a bit firm straight out of the fridge, while packed full of fruit and low on the surrounding syrup (as is typical in my lower-sugar-marmalade-making ways, although this marm has nearly the classic 1:1 ratio of sugar:fruit). The flavor, however, is wonderful, especially if you like a bitter-tart-sweet, smack-you-in-the-face, take-no-prisoners, not-for-the-faint-of-heart marmalade. There is no real heat from the chiles, only an almost subtle smokiness with the barest hint of chile undertone. Personally, I would add another chile, and maybe some crushed red pepper flakes or a spicier dried chile or two, to amp up the heat, but Tai has raved about the flavor of this one. In fact, he’s given it his highest rating of “you are NOT giving any of this away! It’s mine, all mine! I’ll cut you.”
The critics have spoken. (But I don’t think another guajillo, and maybe a splash of tequila, would be amiss. But don’t tell the hubs.). Go ye forth and marmalade.
Adapted from Texas Grapefruit & Tahitian Vanilla Bean Marmalade
- 2 lb red grapefruit, preferably organic (I got mine from G & S Groves in Texas)
- 2 dried guajillo chiles, coarsely chopped, with seeds
- juice of 1 lemon (or 1/4 cup bottled lemon juice)
- 1 and 3/4 lb (3 and 3/4 cups) sugar (organic evaporated cane juice)
- large pinch sea salt
- Day 1. Scrub grapefruits well. Quarter fruits and trim off middle pith/membrane edge; remove any seeds. Slice each quarter lengthwise into 2 or 3 more sections. Thinly slice each section so that you yield tiny triangles of fruit + peel. Add grapefruit sections, along with as much of the juice as possible, to a large measuring cup. Measure fruit and add the fruit, an equal volume of filtered water (mine was 5 cups of each), guajillo chiles, lemon juice and sugar to a wide pot or preserving pan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat; simmer for 10 minutes, allow to cool slightly, transfer to a heat-safe bowl, cover and refrigerate overnight.
- Day 2. Transfer the fruit mixture to your preserving pan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, simmer for 10 minutes, then cool, cover and refrigerate overnight.
- Day 3. Prepare canner, jars & lids.
- Tip the fruit mixture into your preserving pan. Bring to a boil and boil hard, stirring minimally, until you reach the set point, 220 degrees F on an accurate thermometer, about 25 – 30 minutes. Ladle hot marmalade into jars to ¼-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles, wipe rims, affix lids and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
Yields approximately 5 cups.
- This is a strongly-flavored, bitter marmalade. I actually think it could stand a bit more sugar; maybe up to another 1/2 cup. As usual when I make marmalade, there was a lot of peel and little syrup; the only way around this is to add more liquid and more sugar, but it’s a balancing act of enough syrup without the marmalade being overly sweet.
- So far, the chile flavor is very mild; just a bit of smokiness more than real chile spice. If it does not build over time, I would add another guajillo, or perhaps some crushed red pepper, for just a hint of spice next time.
- I did think originally of trying chipotle with the grapefruit; it’s an option, but I wonder if the smoky chipotle would overwhelm the somewhat delicate grapefruit flavor. If anyone tries it, please report back!
Canned, store in a cool, dark spot for up to 1 year.