Grapefruit Rose Marmalade

My neighbor has a grapefruit tree, one that fills our backyard with the most beautiful smell.  I often just step outside only to get a sample of the intoxicating perfumed air. I’m not sure if this tree’s aroma is the rule or an exception, in any case the scent is profound.  I really don’t care for grapefruit, it’s too bitter for me, but since becoming captivated with the trees aromatics, I have tried and tried to become a fan of the ruby colored balls.  


I’ve found that while I don’t enjoy eating a grapefruit out of its skin, I do love it’s flavor for cooking and baking.  Our neighbor leaves a sack filled with grapefruit on our front door a few times each year, which I then return to them in form of a cake or a cocktail.  This year I took inspiration from my love of marmalades and the hope of spring flowers popping up soon. 


This recipe came from Desert Candy.  The amount of rose water seems extreme, as a few drops go a very long way when dealing with rose water, but I promise it is perfect.  The most important thing to remember is to keep the pot on a very slow simmer so it caramelizes perfectly, without burning. 


  • 3 large ruby red grapefruits
  • 3 cups water
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
  • 2 tablespoons rose water


1. Set a large pot of water to boil. Cut off the peel of the grapefruits, working to get good thick slices, but leaving the inner white pith closest to the fruit still attached to the fruit. Cut the peels into strips. Blanch the peels by submersing them in boiling water for about three minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse under running water. Bring a fresh pot of water to a boil and repeat the blanching process again, this removes any bitterness. Drain and rinse again.


2. Place the peels in a large pot. Cut off all the white pith from the remaining fruits then, working over the pot, cut between the grapefruit membranes so that the fruit sections fall into the pot. Squeeze juice from the membranes and discard them. repeat with remaining fruits.

3. Add the water and sugar to the pot and bring to a boil, stirring to combine. Lower the heat to a very low simmer. Simmer until the marmalade is thick and translucent, about 90 minutes. The marmalade may still appear a touch watery- keep in mind it will thicken as it cools.

4. Add the vanilla bean seeds and simmer another five minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the rose water (or lemon) and set aside to cool. You could can this and process in a hot water bath or simply store in jars in the fridge.


The marmalades combination of citrus and floral captures the beauty of spring; vibrant colors, lingering floral smells and balanced sweetness spell out spring on your plate.


Spread it on your toast, drape it over grilled fish or chicken, make vinaigrette for the garden greens, and even cover a scoop of vanilla ice cream with it. Then add some fresh flowers from Flowers Cork to the table and everything is complete. Spring is in the air! 


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