Thursday, August 07, 2008

The Inaugural Grapefruit Marmalade Post


Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, Jeanie's father planted grapefruit trees in a creekbed on his cattle property.

He did this for many reasons.

Foremost, if there is ever such thing as a Grapefruit Marketing Board they should go no farther than my father for testimonials.

He swears on the health-giving properties of this bitter, bitter (think your average bitterness of a storebought lemon and multiply by ten - and then ten again) cat-bottom bitter fruit.

He claims it cleansed his blood when he was a teen and enabled him to emerge from adolescence hale, hearty and handsome (I have seen pictures - could be something in that).

He claims that he never gets any lurgy due to its prophylactic qualities. Well, actually, he doesn't use high-faluting (or suggestive) words, but it actually means "wards off illness" so suck on that, Google searchers looking for things other than bush cures for the common cold!!

As he has never had a negative thought in his adult life, it must also be the breakthrough in mental health we have all been searching for.

In fact, if everyone listened to my father, the world would be a healthier, happier, grapefruitier place.

And as I only sporadically listen to my father, I shall have to settle for a sporadically healthier, happier, grapefruitier life.

This week is definitely the grapefruitier kind.

Last weekend, while I was busy playing with bushbabe's computer, Grandpa got to play with 'Salina, Dash and TLW.

One of their "fun things to do with Grandpa" was picking grapefruit. This is necessary, as those trees planted oh so very long ago are prolific and bountiful at this time of year. So prolific and bountiful, in fact, that if they are not harvested then sixty cows boycott the water facility due to the essence of grapefruit tang that taints the tank.

As they had no receptacle reciptacal bucket, they picked them and threw them into the back of the ute.

In the back of the ute, you will often find crowbars, wire, toolboxes, motors, dogs and, on occasion, small children.

(According to V, you should also always find a rake in there - to get the disintegrating grapefruit that have managed to get into the tank out - he has been on a grapefruit harvest with my father in the past. He also mentioned barbed wire and wasps. The kids didn't mention them - or a rake. I wonder if my father took advantage of lightweight grandchildren - they would be the ones that are NOT my daughter - and dangled them across the tank for that purpose, or if he had a rake?)

Add many loose grapefruit (my tower here plus the half-dozen I left for my father's eating and the couple I chucked) to this mix.

Drive the said ute across paddock roads - the latter term is sort of the equivalent of cattle tracks but two parallel ones - in the style of a cattleman whose mantra is "time and motion" for half a day. Leave it in the open overnight. Take it for another paddock trip, this time with the driver having a 6 year old on her lap and half a mind on the photos, an 8 year old changing gears and a toddler and goddess shrew sister holding on to the passenger door - from the inside, thank goodness - the next day before getting the same children to bag them and you can see what a pristine operation harvesting really is.

And, indeed, the resultant fruit has a lot going for it - in fact, with the world price of crude oil, they may even be more valuable than my father can mention.

This is why I chose to wash the fruit I was going to marmalade very well. Whenever people say "what is the difference between marmalade in jam?" the best answer is "the skin" - which, as far as I know is the right answer. I always find if I say things with a certain air of authority they will believe.

Of course, that was about where my preparations ended yesterday, because although I had thoughtfully bought sugar for the marmalade in my mind, I had overlooked that lemon juice was a key ingredient.

So I drafted off what I thought was about 6x the recipe (in case I felt like doing bulk marmalade when I got the lemons) and juiced the rest. We now have 3.5 litres of freshly squeezed grapefruit juice in fridges and freezers to tart us up over the next few days!

Today I got the lemons. As the amount of lemon juice I could squeeze would determine the amount of marmalade I am going to attempt today, I saddled up to squeeze them.

I won't go into my day prior to this point - let me just leave it at buying the lemons being just one of the large hurdles I had to overcome to get to this point - and each were as convoluted and bitter as the lemons.

Hmmm - I just heard my father's voice saying something medicinal about grapefruit...

Hot water, sugar, pure grapefruit juice, water, Gloria Hippo glass, sip, cat-bottom mouth, instant mental fortification.

Lookee - that one sip and I was able to squeeze 5 lemons - well, me and my Molineaux.

Lets see - 6 x the recipe = 6 x 1/2 pint = 3 pints required...

Darn - even accounting for parallax error, there doesn't look to be nearly 2 x the recipe quantity there, does there?

That equates to needing only 4 pounds of sliced grapefruit required. Sure, that sounds like a lot - until you chop up one of these beggars. Here is a smaller one...

Note my attention to detail - which one looks better?

There we go - 1 sliced grapefruit = more than 1 pound - and I have over 9 of these beggars behind me.

Of course, at that point of the preparation my hands got covered in grapefruit goo, so just assume I chop and chop and chop and chop and chop and chop and - you know, its moments like these I miss my grandma. For lots of great reasons, but mostly because when I was looking after her when she was quite elderly I could pass this task off on her and she would chop and chop and chop and her little chops would be so fine and neat and we could laugh together and she would berate me for being an oaf chopping so chunky and I could slide a bit more to her side of the board and she would just chop and chop and chop so fine.

Can you tell my hands are too gunky to take shots of the further 2 grapefruits required to make my 4 pounds required - these certainly are not delicate little fruit.

So therefore the next shot is the finished product - or rather, the finished product for today. I did mention this was just part one up there, didn't I?

Oh well - in this hugest plastic container I could find, there are 2 pints (or nearish) of lemon juice, 4 pounds of sliced grapefruit and 6 pints of water. Well, it could be 5 and a bit pints of water - I lost count - or it could be 6 and a bit.

That is what my cooking is all about, really - precision.

Leave it to soak overnight, and I will post the rest of the recipe as I do it tomorrow.


Debby said...

Not trying to be critical really, but would like to say: Glad BB was hanging on to the inside of the door. And over here, we don't refer to lemons and grapefruits (no matter how sour) as tarting us up. Finally: this is about the funniest thing I ever read. Your pa is quite the charactor. I snickered all the way through this. Can't wait for part two.

jeanie said...

Deb - see, the problem is she was the one with the mind on the photos and not on the driving and I was the one with the mind on self-preservation...

Girding myself for part two myself... Will be much later today, as I have to do real stuff before fluffy marmalade making stuff.

Foilwoman said...

Sounds like your future will continue to be grapefruitier. I remember making strawberry and raspberry jam with my grandmother. Making grapefruit marmalade (even if it sounds a bit inedible -- I've been wrong before and will be happy to be this time) sounds like a blast.

Alison said...

I was going to be all grapefruity and long winded with my comment, but then I saw that spectacular last picture.. And all I can think now is - Hey look! Pumpkin patch kids!!

jeanie said...

Foilwoman - it is quite tart - like a good marmalade should be - but nothing better than sharpening up your morning toast. Now, making strawberry and raspberry jam sounds quite lucious!

Alison - lol V and 'Salina had LOTS of fun with pumpkins - which is my backup post if I never get around to the rest of the marmalade.

Anonymous said...

Oh, yum. I have some here too, pperhaps I should do the same thing?

BB said...

A bountiful crop indeed! Grapefruiter than ever... I hope you weren't casting nastursiams (sp) on my driving (well me slash Dash slash Salina)?? It was SMOOTH baby!

PS is that the Paradise version of Halloween??

jeanie said...

Rhubarbwhine - definitely do the juice thing - actually quite refreshing. The marmalade takes time and ingredients.

yes, bushbabe, if you didn't recognise the nastursiums lobbed I wouldn't claim you! It was smooth - in the front - I am sure the shivering from anticipated shock counteracted the shock absorbers working overtime!!! Actually, it was only put there for dramatic effecgt and I really thought we were on the highway.

Anonymous said...

Amazing! Adding lemon juice to grapefruit . . . to meake things REALLY tart, evidently. (See you AND debby taught me good stuff. And thanks for all you do!)

Debby said...

Wait!!! BB was driving and went off the road?!!! Man. In my family, there'd be someone who'd never be allowed to live that down, and that story would be told and retold each and every holiday, joining the ranks of other humiliating stories that have become family legends.

Not trying to incite anything. Just saying.

jeanie said...

The lemon juice has some magical quality in it that makes the whole setting stuff a bit easier, I believe Pencil Writer - and excellent italics, I must say!

Deb - there are many stories involving Bushbabe and sudden lack of road but she has as good a memory as I and probably has just as much ammunition!