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Old-fashioned Grapefruit Marmalade

I love my home-made marmalade. There is nothing quite like it. Lashings of butter and chunky marmalade on freshly made bread and a hot cuppa, or for breakfast; a new laid egg, soft-boiled with toast and marmalade and a cup of best coffee. Last night after I’d cooked up this batch I couldn’t resist having it for my dinner, on toast with chunks of good organic cheddar. Move over brown rice, well for last night anyway! I love my marmalade chunky with grapefruit. I’m not into minced up marmalade and I can’t abide orange or lime marmalade. It’s missing the strong and bitter taste that I crave in a marmalade. Here’s how to make best grapefruit marmalade.


4 large or 8 medium sized grapefruits, 2 lemons, 12 cups water, 12 cups sugar (I use organic). And yes I know it’s a lot of sugar but it won’t work without that amount. You’re not going to eat it by the jarful, just a spoonful at a time every now and again so relax and enjoy.

The night before you intend to make your marmalade, slice up the grapefruits and lemons. In a large pan cover the sliced fruits with the water. How you slice it depends on your preference.

As you can see from the pic I prefer thick slices as the finished product has tenderly chewy lengths of peel. Try and remove most of the pips from the fruit as you slice. The rest will surface during cooking and you can remove them then. Wonderful help from my 5yr old mokopuna. Cover with a teatowel and leave to soak overnight.

Next day bring the fruit and water to the boil. Continue to boil briskly until the fruit is soft and pulpy – about 40 minutes.

Add sugar, bring quickly back up to the boil and boil fast until the setting point is reached. This will take another 40 minutes or so. Stir occasionally keeping watch to make sure the mixture doesn’t burn and stick to the bottom of the pan.

To test if your marmalade is cooked, place a small spoonful onto a plate and let it cool. Put your finger onto it and when it sticks to your finger and gathers together you know that your marmalade is ready to put into jars.

While your marmalade is cooking, thoroughly wash your jars and lids and have them sitting in a sink of clean hot water. Place newspaper and a warmed frying pan (use hot water) beside the preserving pan to catch any drips of marmalade. When your marmalade is ready take one warm jar at a time and dry it thoroughly with a clean tea towel. Place the jar onto the frying pan and using a ladle, fill the jar with hot marmalade. The jars need to be warm when you fill them otherwise they may crack.

Allow to cool a little then lid. Make sure and give the jars a hot soapy wash before storing in your pantry. Enjoy!




21 thoughts on “Old-fashioned Grapefruit Marmalade

  1. Hiya Trisha
    Thanks for this recipe, I found an old grapefruit tree today that has split its trunk four ways and is lying flat as a pancake on the ground with all its lovely fruit in easy reach. Will be making your marmalade with the kids at our community centre on wednesday arvo – cheap marmalade is just what we need!

  2. Best marmalade recipe I’ve tried, tastes exactly like the one my nana used to make. Thank you for this recipe – second time making it now

  3. I have just made your grapefruit marmalade. I have been making marmalade for decades and your recipe not any different from the one I’ve used all these years.
    What I did! Like was the comments on setting point. You made it very easy especially if your a novice at this . Have never found the thermometer very reliable and had resorted back to the “wrinkle” test. Your method is great and easy. Just checked this morning and perfect set.
    We live in Auckland and and have beautiful citrus growing on our property . Picked and bottled within 24 hours. Very rewarding! I have always loved making all my own pickles,jams etc. Hints and tips like yours are invaluable,especially if you’re just a beginner. Having said that you’re never too old to learn! Keeps us young!

  4. You sound just like me. Nice bitter marmalade on toast with cheese😊. Came home from being away for 12months and oh-no no marmalade left! This is the easiest way to make a great tasting and easy to do grapefruit marmalade although I don’t use any lemons.

  5. Hi. This sounds like my perfect marmalade!
    I’m not sure if you will answer in time… I’m making this tomorrow.
    Do they need to be sealed?/canned? For long term storage?

    1. I’ve emailed you as well Melanie, no just using regular pre-loved jars with screw lids is fine. They last for a few years but one year is best.

  6. Hey Trish,
    I’ve got buckets of grapefruit. Have never made marmalade but want to! If the skin is browny and not looking too great because I left them on the tree for too long can I still use the skin? Or would I have to remove it and go for the lesser appealing version?

    1. If they aren’t rotten/or starting too go bad I would still use them. Give them a good scrub and keep the skin. That’s where all the flavour is.

  7. I only got 7 jars of marmalade? You got a lot more.
    Im wondering if I boiled the water out too much, as I left the lid off the pan?

  8. Thanks for the recipe, it’s just how I like it! I’m making it for my fourth time today as I like to give jars to family and friends, but I do say that this is an old fashioned bitter marmalade, the true marmalade aficionados love it 😊

    1. I just made another batch last week and I’ve found some really nice gluten free bagels so my latest fix is, you guessed it and with lots of cold butter. 🙂

    1. Hi Margo, I don’t use pectin as the marmalade sets fine without it. I’ve never used pectin in any of my jams or jellies. It will store on the shelf for a few years at least but I do like to make fresh each year.

    1. Hi Olive, sorry but I’m not sure if you can reboil now….I can’t think why not though. when the marmalade is coming up to ready you have to really really make sure that you do that ball test “To test if your marmalade is cooked, place a small spoonful onto a plate and let it cool. Put your finger onto it and when it sticks to your finger and gathers together you know that your marmalade is ready to put into jars.” Sometimes you have to do it many times before it’s reached it’s thickness. Hope this is helpful. Trisha

  9. Hi Trisha, I’ve been making my grandmother’s olde English thickly cut Seville orange marmalade for a few years. Like you I don’t give it to anyone that doesn’t understand it is chunky and bitter! Now I have 2 beautiful grapefruit trees and I’m wanting to make your recipe. My grapefruits have a nice skin but quite thick pith. Is this going to make the marmalade too bitter and will your recipe be suitable for these fruits?

    1. Hi Genista, I’ve always used the same recipe for all sorts of grapefruits and I’m sure some of them have had a thick pith. I guess you won’t really know until you try?
      How blessed to have 2 grapefruit trees. I’ve just finished juicing most of the fruit from my one tree. What we can’t drink goes into the freezer. So delicious! Trisha.

  10. Made a batch from my neighbor’s tree! What a wonderful recipe! Thank you for sharing it. Bless you from Southern Arizona USA. And yes, no one gets any unless they are a marmalade lover! lol.

  11. This sounds great! have you ever tried it with Oro Blanco grapefruuit? They are season in California right now and the taste of them is like no other citrus?
    Also, did you ever try Kishu Mandarins? Like the Oro Blanco, they are in season for this precious few weeks and the sweetness is amazing.

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