Dulce de Toronja/Mermelada de Toronja
Winter may feel endless just now but the season for red pomelos is way too short. Only a few markets in my neighborhood carry them and I all but missed them last year. Sweeter than other varieties with a thick white pitch or albedo, pomelos are perfect for making dulce de toronja and I‘d been waiting all year for them to come back around.
It was a strange choice for me because dulce de toronja was one of those nostalgic desserts that I had zero nostalgia for. I reconsidered when it kept coming up as a favorite that people didn’t make much anymore. It’s called candied grapefruit but only uses the bitter pith or albedo that’s usually discarded. I didn’t actually realize the pith was called the albedo until I started researching this recipe. A google search told me the albedo can also refer to the “fraction of solar energy reflected from the earth back into space”. It’s been a years since I fell in love with a word but I really liked that one. All grapefruit radiates for me now.
The recipe itself was hard to describe. The albedo is separated from both the zest and fruit in peels and then boiled in several changes of water to remove any trace of bitterness. Finally the peels are poached in syrup flavored with aromatics like ginger, cinnamon, and sometimes clove. Unlike the gelatinous dessert dropped out of a can I remembered, the fibers hold their shape but melt away when you bite into them like cotton candy. It’s usually served with cheese so a little savory is added to the bitter sweet. It was lovely but it left me with the unused zest and fruit. I’d waited for so long that it seemed a shame to waste so I adapted the tea-tinged grapefruit marmalade recipe in Kevin West’s Saving the Season. It’s was really simple and just two (albeit giant) grapefruits yielded a sizable quart that I’ll be working through for weeks. Caught between short dark days and near blizzards, I thought there was very little of this particular season that I wanted to hold onto but have to admit that it has its good parts.
Dulce de Toronja/Candied Grapefruit
2 large red pomelo grapefruit
3 cups sugar
3 cups water
1 whole cinnamon stick
1 4-inch piece fresh ginger, cut into 1-inch rings
Carefully remove the yellow rind in even strips leaving as much of the thick albedo (white pith) as possible. Set aside for later use. Quarter the grapefruit and peel away the albedo in sections. Set aside the fruit for later use. Soak the albedo in cold water to cover overnight (see note).
Drain the albedo and place in a large pot with water to cover. Bring to a boil and simmer, 20 minutes. Drain and repeat with fresh water 2 to 3 times until they are no longer bitter. They will become spongelike so drain the albedo and carefully press extract as much of the excess water as possible. Set aside.
Combine the sugar, water, cinnamon and ginger in a saucepan and bring to a fast simmer over medium heat. Continue to simmer until the sugar is dissolved and the syrup slightly thickens, about 30 minutes. Add the the pith to simmering syrup and continue to cook an additional 15 to 20 minutes. The pith will become translucent and take on the color of the syrup. Remove from heat. Serve with fresh cheese.
Pomelo Grapefruit Marmalade
Adapted from Kevin West’s oxford-cut marmalade found in Saving the Season: A Cook’s Guide to Home Pickling, Canning, and Preserving (Knopf, 2013) .
3 pounds red pomelo grapefruit (about 2 large), yellow rind and fruit
4 cups water
4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon loose-leaf black tea or 3 tea bags, Darjeeling, Earl Grey, or Scottish Breakfast
Soak the yellow rind in cold water to cover overnight. Place in a saucepan with water to cover and a pinch of salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, about 20 minutes. Drain and set aside. Dice the rind into small 3/4-inch pieces.
In the meantime, peel and section the fruit. Pomelos have a thick pith so even after you pull away the albedo there will still be a white layer covering the fruit making it easier to trim. Trim the fruit on both ends so they lay flat. Working in sections, remove the outer white layer with a sharp knife. Discard the seeds. Slice alongside the thin membrane on either side of each section and remove the flesh. This will be become easier after the first couple of sections as the membrane easily pulls away from the flesh. Chop the flesh into 1/2-inch pieces.
Place the diced peel, chopped fruit, tea, and 4 cups of water in a saucepan. Bring to a fast simmer, 15 minutes.
Warm the sugar on a baking sheet in a 225 degree oven for 15 minutes while the grapefruits finishes cooking, 15 minutes. Stir in the sugar and continue to simmer over medium-high heat until the the marmalade reaches the desired consistency, about 40 to 50 minutes. To test place a cold spoon in the marmalade and see if it clumps. Pour into sterilized jars and seal.