Pamplemousse: on my list of the top 10 best words in any language (along with codswallop, yoboseyo and schnell!). Pamplemousse is “grapefruit” in French; sounds so much more exotic doesn’t it? (And incidentally, how did we ever end up with “grapefruit” in English? I mean, it is pomelo in Spanish, pompelmo in Italian, citrus paradisi in Latin. It doesn’t look or taste anything like a grape. But I guess it is better than “shattuck.”) But, enough etymology for today: let’s just agree that vin de pamplemousse sounds so much more delicious than fortified grapefruit wine and leave it at that, shall we?
So: vin de pamplemousse. (I just wanted to say it again. Pamplemoussssssssse.) Since I can’t stop raving about them, you know I ordered a box of Rio red grapefruit from G & S Groves in Texas. I’ve made the I’ll-cut-you-good grapefruit guajillo marmalade; a honeyed grapefruit jamalade that I
have yet to tell you about that I finally wrote up; and there are yet more pamplemoussy plans a-percolating in my grey matter. But, we’ve also been eating these gorgeous ruby wonders out of hand: on top of pancakes, with peanut-butter toast, with popcorn for dinner. (Yes, popcorn & grapefruit for dinner. I’ve been busy. So sue me.) And you know, don’t you, that I can’t just throw away the gorgeous, pinky-golden, fragrant peels? Not when they were grown organically with such love and devotion. Not when they were packed carefully, each in their own little bed of fuzzy red straw, and shipped all the way up to New York. Not when I can wring even one more drop of pleasure out of their luxurious, totally-non-local goodness. Of course not.
Enter vin de pamplemousse. A take on a tradtional French fortified wine, vin d’orange. Take grapefruit peels, toast them in the oven to bring out their flavor, add some vodka, sugar and wine, et voila! Vin de pamplemousse. Or it will be, in about a month or so. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Stay tuned, as I am rounding up other good ideas for using and preserving citrus peels: new post
coming soon! here! (And many thanks to Dominique for correcting my spelling of “pomplemousse.” I would say that I’m very embarrassed in French, except I would probably spell it wrong….)
Adapted from Vin d’Orange in The Glass Pantry by Georgeanne Brennan
- peels from 4 to 5 large grapefruits, preferably organic* (I used Rio red texas grapefruit from G & S Groves)
- 2 bottles (1.5 liters) crisp white wine (I used a Lurton fumée blanches)
- 1 and 1/2 cups sugar (I used organic evaporated cane juice + turbinado, but white sugar would be prettier here.)
- 1 cup vodka (Absolut)
*I always recommend organic citrus when a recipe calls for using the peel, as the peel tends to accumulate far more of the pesticides and fungicides used in conventional farming than the flesh. This is especially true for this recipe, as alcohol will act as a solvent, drawing even more of any chemicals present in the peel out into the wine.
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Spread grapefruit peels on a baking sheet in a single layer; roast in the preheated oven until dried, fragrant and beginning to brown slightly, about 1 hour.
- Combine vodka and sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly until sugar dissolves. Once sugar has dissolved, remove from heat.
- Combine wine, vodka/sugar mixture, and toasted grapefruit peels in a large jug or bowl with a tight-fitting cover. Shaking now and then, store in a cool, dark spot for at least 1 month (or longer). Once the wine tastes good to you, strain through dampened cheesecloth and store in clean, dry bottles.
Yields about 2 quarts.
- If you scour Ye Olde Internets, you’ll find many versions of vin d’orange; some with a fruity red wine, some with a crisp, dry white, some without wine at all, that are essentially an infusion of strong spirits (vodka or grain alcohol) with orange peel and spice. I suspect that any or all of these version could be “traditional” in some region of France, so feel free to make your own best version: it’s bound to be ‘traditional’ somewhere, if only in your own kitchen.
- Most recipes of this sort will tell you to use only the colorful zest, avoiding the pith, of the peel, which can be bitter. I think the roasting of the peel mellows the bitterness somewhat, and I do like an edge of bitterness in the final product, much like a good marmalade. But use your best judgement on how much pith to include: you know how you like or dislike the bitterness of the pith, so add or subtract accordingly.
- This is one of those recipes for which I wish I had white sugar in the house. The mix of raw and organic evaporated sugar I used produced a browny, not-so-pleasant color. I’m sure it will taste equally lovely, but next time I’ll try to be patient and search out some white sugar.
Once strained, store in clean bottles, in a cool, dark spot, for up to 1 year.
Make in winter; drink in summer.