Saturday, February 12, 2011

Winter in the Northeast is not exactly the most exciting time for the locavore blogger. Today's the first time I've been to the Greenmarket in a month, and even then it was too frigid to spend much time browsing around and finding inspiration. I scampered back to my apartment with nothing more than a pint of cream, a jar of raspberry jam and some honey for winter cold-fighting tea with honey and lemon.

On the bright side, though, being cooped up indoors all day inspires a lot of little projects. Last weekend's little project was a collision of two marmalade recipes: Eugenia Bone's Three Citrus Marmalade, but with a smoked salt twist inspired by Anarchy In a Jar's Grapefruit Marmalade with Smoked Salt.

The resulting marmalade is a lovely, bright spread with the sweetness of Meyer lemons, the tartness of grapefruit and a slight bitterness that's balanced by a mild smoke flavor. Neither too bitter nor too sweet, I've been eating this every chance I can get! And I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to make another batch sometime very, very soon. Even though citrus isn't local, it certainly is seasonal, and I want to make sure that I'll have enough of this perfect marmalade to keep my pantry stocked all year long!

And what could possibly make this marmalade better? Homemade buttermilk scones, you say? Well, don't mind if I do!

Three Citrus Marmalade with Smoked Salt
adapted from Well-Preserved by Eugenia Bone

2 grapefruits, pink or red
4 oranges (I used navel)
3 Meyer lemons
4 to 5 cups of sugar
1/2 t. unsalted butter
1/2 t. smoked sea salt

Peel the skin off of one orange and two lemons with a vegetable peeler and use the back of a knife to scrape off as much as you can of the white pith. Cut the cleaned rinds into thin matchsticks, then put them into a saucepan with 3 cups of water and cook over medium heat until tender. (About 20 to 25 minutes.)

Meanwhile, peel the remaining fruits. Cut them in half through the middle to remove seeds, then coarsely chop the oranges and lemons. For the grapefruit, cut supremes by slicing the flesh from between the membranes with a sharp paring knife. Measure the resulting fruit pulp and juice mixture - I had about four cups altogether. You'll want to match the amount of sugar to the amount of pulp; so for four cups of fruit, use four cups of sugar. If your yield is closer to five cups, use five cups of sugar.

Add the pulp, sugar, softened rinds and their cooking water to a large, heavy pot. (I used my IKEA dutch oven.) Cook over medium low heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture reaches 220 degrees on a candy thermometer. (The original recipe suggests that this will take about 30 minutes; I found that it was more like 45 minutes, and required the heat being turned up to medium during the last 15 minutes.)

When the marmalade reaches 220 degrees, remove it from the heat and add the smoked sea salt. Continue to stir for three or four minutes while marmalade cools to insure proper distribution of the peels and pulp.

This recipe yields a little bit more than four half-pints of marmalade. If you're heat processing your marmalade for shelf-stability, jars should be processed for ten minutes. Otherwise, refrigerate cooled marmalade and eat within a week.