If there’s one thing that makes me jealous more than anything, it’s people with citrus trees in their yards. In Israel, you’d be hard pressed to find a house without at least one variety of citrus. Growing up, my grandparents had the holy trinity: lemon, orange and grapefruit. The trees were mature and gave more fruit than we knew what to do with. Nestled in between then was a swing play set that lived strong for more than a decade.
The West/Mid West is another one of those places that’s perfect for citrus – California, Arizona, Texas. Last time I was in Phoenix, I was in pure awe of the citrus trees growing wild, used for decorative purposes to line streets and mini highways. I found myself so jealous that these trees were growing freely wherever they pleased and I can’t, for the life of me, get one of these trees to grow in New York. Then, I got angry. How could you just let these citrus trees grow and watch the ripened fruit fall to the ground without making use of it? Needless to say, I found myself sneaking freshly picked citrus back to New York in my carryon.
And lucky I did because that citrus served as the base for this mixed-citrus marmalade packed with oranges, ruby red grapefruit, meyer lemons and blood oranges (those I bought at Whole Foods).
This mixed citrus marmalade can really be used in multiple ways: as a glaze, a bread topping, a cheese plate accompaniment, in yogurt, mixed with hot water as a tea base, while watching Moulin Rouge… It stores extremely well, so don’t be afraid of the amount this recipe produces. Can them up and reap the citrus benefits for months to come.
MIXED CITRUS MARMALADE
(makes 3-4 cups)
3 valencia oranges (or any other thin-skinned variety)
2 large ruby red grapefruits
2 meyer lemons
1 blood orange
3 cups water, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
to serve as in the pictures above:
loaf of French bread, crusts removed and center dough cut into 1×1 inch squares or 1×2 inch rectangles
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 pound soft brie cheese
Start by prepping the citrus (peeling, removing the pith and segmenting). To peel, gently peel the skin off of all the citrus using a vegetable peeler. Try to get as little pith as possible (pith is the white binding that surrounds the fruit itself. It’s what’s between the outside skin and the flesh. Place the fruit aside as you prep the citrus.
Place the peel in a medium pot with 2 cups of a water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and gently boil for 10 minutes. Drain the water and let the citrus peel cool slightly until you can handle it – shouldn’t take more than a few minutes. Slice the peel into thin strips, about 1/16 – 1/8 inch.
To continue prepping the citrus, cut the top and bottom off of each piece of fruit with a sharp knife to reveal the flesh. Place one of the flat sides of the citrus down on a cutting board and, using pairing knife and working top to bottom, cut away as much of the pith as possible. Don’t worry if you cut away some flesh. It’s more important to get rid of all the pith since it can be really bitter. Once you’ve removed all the pith, segment the fruit. When you hold the citrus in your hand, you should see the lines that separate the fruit’s segments. Cut along both sides of each line to loosen the fruit segments from their binding. Do this over a bowl to catch any citrus juice that you remove in the the process. Repeat until everything is segmented. Squeeze the remaining binding to remove as much juice as possible and discard.
Place the sliced peel, segmented fruit and juice in a large pot with the remaining 1 cup water, 2 cups sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 1 hour, stirring every 5 minutes or so. Turn the heat off and let the marmalade sit for 2 hours. The marmalade will thicken as it cools.
To serve: Place 1/2 tablespoon of butter in a nonstick skillet and melt. Place the bread squares so the biggest side is face down in the skillet. Toast until golden, about 1 minute. Remove the bread, add the rest of the butter and melt. Then, place the other side of bread face down in the skillet and toast that side, another minute. Slice the brie into triangles or smaller squares to serve on top and/or alongside the bread. Serve with cooled marmalade and enjoy!