MLK day, a day of service to the Co-op community

This was a super productive day for the Co-op.  Pickles, grapefruit marmalade, and citron limoncello, all jarred, canned or bottled today. The grapefruit marmalade is a test recipe, using my whole fruit pectin bag method with a blanched peel technique.

cold-brine pickles, grapefruit marmalade, and citron limoncello

Labor intensive, yes, but if you are going to exert the full effort of marmalade, why risk a bitter product? I harvested 5 ripe white grapefruits from Yvonne A’s garden.  After removing the peel in thin strips and avoiding the bitter white pith, it was blanched three times in water, rinsing each time. Then I finely diced the blanched peels.  While the peels were blanching, I removed the juicy segments from the grapefruits, saving the membranes and seeds into a cheesecloth pectin bag.

Remove white pith, core and segment grapefruit

(Yeah, this is my tried and true pectin bag method!)

supreme grapefruit segments, with membranes and seeds in pectin bag

That white pith was discarded, as it is bitter! I ended up with a total of 3 cups of grapefruit ‘supreme’ segments and diced peel.  Cook this with 3 cups of water until very tender, about 35 – 40 minutes, with your pectin bag in the pot.

cheesecloth containing membranes and seeds: the pectin bag. Cook it with the peel and discard.

When tender, remove the pectin bag and squeeze all that goodness back into the cooking pot.  Add 4 cups of sugar, a pinch of kosher salt and a whole vanilla bean,

grapefruit segments, blanched diced peel, sugar and a vanilla bean. The pectin bag has been cooked with the peel and removed.

and let that cook down until it reaches the gel stage (it wrinkles with a fingertip push on a cold plate).  This took me about 40 minutes on a medium boil rather than a high boil.  Process for 10 minutes.  The flavor is terrific, pure grapefruit but not too bitter, as the vanilla tempers the bitterness.  The Co-op’s friend Nora G loves grapefruit, so this one is for her.  Nora’s Grapefruit marmalade, created on MLK day, 2012.

Marina, the pickle maestro, came over to help today, and I was so glad to have her guidance.  As we waited for some of the pickling brine to cool, Marina told me about her childhood fleeing the war in Europe.  Her family fled to  Belgrade to live in a partially destroyed building where she and her little sisters woke to find themselves covered in snow blowing through the bombed-out windows. As the oldest girl, still a very young child,  her parents woke her at 2 in the morning to stand in line in the snow for a piece of bread (not a loaf, a piece), as the Nazi soldiers would not see and shoot little children, darting small shadows in the night. Our food memories and histories are a wealth of information. These pickles are a delicious Co-op product, true! but they also help us remember and teach history.  These pickles were developed to sustain a family during a long winter without fresh vegetables.

And then, being a very productive day, another batch of Co-op limoncello was bottled.

Co-op grapefruit marmalade, cold brine pickles and citron limoncello

This one uses lemons with the addition of citron, thanks to Shan, and was originally put together in mid  2011. The longer that the peel sits in the alcohol, the more flavor is extracted as it becomes fruitier and milder. It has a particularly citrus-y flavor due to the delightful Buddha’s hand citron.

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