Grapefruit Vermouth Marmalade

When I arrived in Paris, I was surprised to see pink grapefruits as objects of such adulation. Métro billboard ads extolled the virtues of pink grapefruits, with ones from Texas being the most prized. Of course, it was a marketing campaign, but those grapefruits are rather good. When I lived in California, we didn’t just have grapefruits, we had everything, from Oroblancos, to tangelos and pomelos.

In the past few years, places such as Terroirs d’Avenir in Paris, which supply us with French-grown citrus, including oddities you don’t see often here, like limequats and Buddha Hand citrons.

It’s sort of my happy place in the winter. Sure, there are tons of clementines at the market, but I like checking at all those elusive varieties of citrus, many coming from specialty producer Agrumes Bachès. They’re still considered ‘specialty items’ since most growers aren’t focusing on lesser-known varieties of citrus here, so it’s fun when you find them.

To preserve the season (and really, because aside from citrus, there’s nothing else to make jam with), I decided to make a batch of Grapefruit Marmalade.

(In somewhat related news, the French word for grapefruit is pamplemousse, which is one of my favorite words in French.)

Generally speaking (as always) the French don’t mix up too many flavors with their jams. The lavender-apricot, blackberry-mint, and pineapple-sage-cardamom-green anise-poppy seed kind of mixtures you come across don’t seem to play that well here. And, generally speaking, I tend to agree: I like my jams and confitures on the straightforward side.

Because it’s always good to include modifiers on the internet, even though – generally speaking – I keep the flavors pretty pure in most of my confitures, I added a pour of sweet red vermouth to this batch, which gave it an underlying complexity that doesn’t distract from the fruit. It behaves, in the marmalade, the same way it does in a cocktail; It enhances and compliments the other ingredient(s), but doesn’t compete. The quinine and other spices and botanicals in vermouth work perfectly with the tartly assertive grapefruit. Bottoms up!

Grapefruit Vermouth Jam
Print Recipe
3 jars (about 1 1/4 cups/300g)
For those worried about getting hammered first thing in the morning, the vermouth gets cooked with the marmalade, so some of the alcohol dissipates. I've suggested a few alternatives to the vermouth after the recipe. 
4 medium pink grapefruits, about 3 pounds, 1,4kg, preferably organic or unsprayed
4 cups (1l) water
2 3/4 cups (550g) granulated sugar
pinch of salt
3/4 cup sweet (red) vermouth
1. Remove the peel from 2 of the grapefruits with a paring knife by lopping off the round ends and slicing off the skin and the white pith. They don't have to look perfect and if some of the white pith remains, it’s not a problem. Use the knife to cut the grapefruit sections out, away from the membranes. Put the grapefruit sections in a large nonreactive pot and squeeze the juice from the membranes into the pot as well. (You can reserve the grapefruit skin pieces for another project, such as candying.)
2. Slice the remaining two grapefruit rinds in half crosswise and juice them, adding the juice to the pot. Use a soup spoon to scrape out the membranes and discard them.
3. Cut each juiced grapefruit half in half, so you have eight grapefruit quarters. Use a chef's knife to cut the grapefruit rinds in quarters crossways (rather than lengthwise), then into strips about 1/4-inch (.75cm) wide. Add them to the pot, along with the water, sugar, and salt, and bring to a full boil. Turn the heat off, cover, and let stand 1 hour. (It can sit overnight.)
4. To finish the marmalade, if you have a candy thermometer, clip it to the side of the pot and bring the marmalade mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat so it's at a low boil. If you don't have a candy thermometer, either use a digital thermometer or follow the instructions in the next steps. Place a small plate in the freezer, to test the marmalade later.
5. Cook until the mixture is reduced by about half. Add the vermouth and continue cooking until the syrup around the grapefruit pieces is as thick as warm maple syrup and the bubbles are no longer foamy, but thick and transparent. The temperature should read about 215ºF (101ºC). Turn off the heat and place a bit of the marmalade on the chilled plate. Return it to the freezer for a few minutes and check it using the "wrinkle test;" if you nudge it with your finger and it wrinkles, it's done. Marmalade generally sets at 218ºF (103ºC) but this one may set sooner.
6. If not, continue cooking and checking the marmalade, checking once or twice more, if necessary, until it's done. (Make sure to turn the heat off under the marmalade while you're cooling your samples to check since it'll keep cooking, and may already be done.) Ladle the marmalade into clean jars with lids. If you're not planning to eat it within a week or two, store it in the refrigerator, where it'll keep for several months.

Notes: I don't can this jam in a hot water bath but if you wish to do so, you can find guidelines on home canning here and here.

You can use another apéritif-style fortified wine for this, such as Byrrh, Dubonnet, or Cap Corse rouge. If you want to make it without the alcohol, unsweetened grape juice could be a substitute, or you can leave it out.


A delicious marmalade with a hint of vermouth!

Never miss a post!

39 comments

  • EV
    February 22, 2019 3:28pm

    Just finished My Sweet Life in Paris, which I picked up after reading L’appart. I totally relate to what you describe at the end of the book about being in an “in-between” state in the world.
    I moved from France to the US 18 years ago and feel that although I will never fully be an American, I’m no longer fully French anymore either :-) But, I do love the duality: it has brought me new insight into my home country, and life here. I treasure going back to France to appreciate all the good stuff one can only find there, more than I did when I lived there.
    Who knows, maybe I’ll bump into you this summer in Paris :-)

    PS: the Chocolate Dulce de Leche Tart from My Paris Kitchen is simply perfect. Thank you for all the recipes and stories

  • February 22, 2019 4:35pm

    My husband just finished L’appart and The Sweet Life In Paris and enjoyed reading both of them. Mind you, I am the cook in the family, he does the dishes but he loves Paris.
    I moved from Germany to the US decades ago and I always will be “in between” these two continents , although I love living in California. Citrus marmalade is my absolute favorite, I have to try your recipe.

  • John Black
    February 22, 2019 5:22pm

    I’ve never made marmalade. Looking at step 2 and step 3 – what am I slicing in step 3 – the rind?

    • February 22, 2019 6:05pm
      David Lebovitz

      Yes, I mentioned discarding the insides (membranes) of the grapefruits so figured it would be evident that the rinds were remaining, and were what was to be used, which are shown in the photo. But I added those words in the recipe so it’s more clear. Enjoy the recipe…and the marmalade!

    • Elaine
      February 23, 2019 11:19am

      Here in UK we simply pour the hot marmalade into hot jars and screw down the lids tight. This will ensure an airtight seal. Both jars and lids should be sterilised. Done this way there’s no need to store your preserves in the fridge until you open them.

  • Claire
    February 22, 2019 6:26pm

    This Texas girl absolutely lives for the arrival of the Ruby Red grapefruits we get from the valley each year starting around Thanksgiving. They are mostly gone now but I’m filing this recipe away for next year. Cant wait!!

  • February 22, 2019 7:52pm

    Sounds delicious. Going to try this with port as I do not have anything else handy at the moment

  • Judy Novak
    February 22, 2019 8:43pm

    If you don’t have a sharp paring knife on hand, try a small serrated knife (tomato slicer) for the peeling, as suggested in the NYT Tanis recipe for Sicilian citrus salad – something else to do with any citrus on hand. As you know, David, people in SoCal who have citrus trees are always happy to give some fruit away, even if you’re just passing by on your walk. Sharing the sun…

    • February 23, 2019 9:28am
      David Lebovitz

      Interestingly, I have an upcoming post on the blog about serrated knives – watch for it shortly! : )

  • Lucille Alice
    February 22, 2019 9:16pm

    Living on the island of Kauai with two ruby grapefruit trees in our little citrus orchard, I make a lot of marmalade. Can’t wait to try this recipe! I should also look through your other recipes to see what you have for Meyer Lemons, Cara Cara oranges, etc. Thanks! Lucille

    • February 23, 2019 9:30am
      David Lebovitz

      Meyer lemons are super rare in Paris (just one grower that I know, has them – although we have sweet lemons, aka: what are called “bergamots,” in France) and I make marmalade out of them. Check out that recipe which would work well with Meyer lemons. I love Cara Cara oranges but we don’t get those…although maybe in the future, we will.

  • February 22, 2019 9:29pm

    More a question than a comment: I live at 4500 feet in Arizona (USA, not the one in Serbia). I’m finding I need to adjust recipes accordingly, largely a process of guessing. Would you have an educated guess at what temperature marmalade sets in high altitude?

    • BananaBirkLarsen
      February 23, 2019 4:00am

      I lived at 7200 feet in New Mexico for 6 years and as far as I can tell, jams/candies etc. set at the same temperature, but boil at a lower temperature. I had 2 small batches of crabapple jelly boil over the sides of my large stock pot without reaching temperature. Homemade jelly and angelfood cake were the two things I gave up making when I lived there. 4500 feet isn’t as bad, though, so hopefully you won’t have the trouble I did. Good luck!

  • Sue in Pleasanton
    February 22, 2019 11:47pm

    One of my aunts lived in Texas many years. During one visit I discovered that Texas Ruby Red Grapefruit is far superior to any shipped elsewhere or grown elsewhere. Your recipe sounds divine!

    • Helen
      March 16, 2019 6:43am

      Texas red grapefruits are excellent, the best I’ve ever tasted, and the deep red color makes them gorgeous in salads. Many orchards in Texas ship them.
      I usually make grapefruit marmalade, but am looking for a new recipe. I usually put a TBS of booze per jar (I’ve used Campari) I was afraid to use more. I’m going to try half with red vermouth and half with Campari in the amount @DavidLebovitz recommended.

  • Daria
    February 23, 2019 1:08am

    Pamplemousse! I used to (years ago) read a detective series about Monsieur Pamplemousse, a Michelin restaurant inspector who solved mysteries. I just looked them up and Michael Bond, who wrote the Paddington bear stories, wrote them. That is a great word. I don’t think I knew it meant anything – I thought it was just a funny word.

    • heidipie
      February 24, 2019 4:31pm

      My kids and their friends made up a bunch of stories about characters named Pamplemousse and Prince Chorizo. They’re growing up in Berkeley CA, so the atmosphere rubbed off on them early.

  • Nicolette
    February 23, 2019 3:17am

    I second Daria’s reaction because I just loved all the adventures of the restaurant inspector Monsieur Pamplemousse and his dog, Pommes Frites!!!! If you haven’t had the pleasure yet do try to read them. You will laugh out loud!

  • Jeroen
    February 23, 2019 8:50am

    I always regret throwing away some of the rind, since in my opinion it’s the best part of the marmalade. What if I would use all of the rind in this recipe? Would the proportions be completely off?

    • February 23, 2019 9:27am
      David Lebovitz

      I thought it would be too much rind for the amount of liquid, but if you try it by adding all the rind, let us know how it turns out.

  • Rita
    February 24, 2019 4:35am

    Thanks for this recipe, but I would like to use less sugar. How much less sugar do you think I could “get away with”, if any?

    • February 24, 2019 4:53pm
      David Lebovitz

      The sugar is in there not just for sweetness but to help the marmalade jell. People often use more sugar than I do when making jam – mine use about 25% less – so can’t advise what’d happen if you reduce it further, but you may risk it not jelling. I would look around online or in cookbooks for a recipe that uses pectin as you may be able to find one with less sugar. If you do make this one with less than indication, let us know how it works out.

  • Gavrielle
    February 24, 2019 1:20pm

    Pamplemousse is the best word ever. Dr Seuss clearly liked it too, as he has a character called the Perilous Poozer of Pomplemoose Pass. Imagine my surprise in French class when I finally realised where he got Pomplemoose from:)..

  • heidipie
    February 24, 2019 4:34pm

    Other marmalade recipes often have one blanch the rind pieces once or twice to bring down some of the bitterness. What’s your take on that? Once I made a blood orange marmalade where I regretted not doing that, but haven’t worked with grapefruit before. Thanks–love your work!

    • February 24, 2019 4:45pm
      David Lebovitz

      This recipe starts with a lot of water, so there isn’t a high concentration of sugar, so it gives time for the grapefruit rind to properly soften. I’ve blanched grapefruit rinds to remove bitterness when candying them, but didn’t for this marmalade, and it was just fine.

  • Mostafa
    February 24, 2019 6:00pm

    Hello David

    I’m from Egypt And one of your fans I really like your topics too much.

    I’m a passionate of owning a gourmet popcorn shop and I’m really inspired by Garrett salted caramel popcorn. I tried more than 100 times to get that beautiful salted caramel somehow I’m close to them but still didn’t get that amazing taste. I’ve read and follow your topics “10 tips for caramel sauce” “how to make perfect caramel sauce” and “corn caramel recipe”

    I’m really confused and don’t know where is the problem. What I’m doing is putting the sugar about 1 cup ( I tried white and brown ) into the stainless steel pan with butter 1/2 cup and little bit of salt and corn syrup ( Karo ) 1/4 cup and keep them until reaching nice color and smell I tried different temperatures too such as 160,165,170 C

    What do you think?
    I know you visit Garrett popcorn kitchen. Are they using vanilla? And what other ingredients they using for this recipe?

    Please help me.

  • martin backman
    February 24, 2019 8:04pm

    Works also quite well with Cynar Bitter, does not taste like artichoke at all :-).

  • Melissa
    February 25, 2019 5:00pm

    I attempted this recipe yesterday and am curious if anyone else has had similar issues. I’m at about 5300 ft elevation so I’m not sure if that would’ve caused the issue. It took forever to reduce the quantity of liquid by half – well over an hour. Then I added the vermouth and kept it at a low boil but it never seemed to get syrupy (even after another hour!). I also measured the temp with a candy thermometer. It was at temp but still very runny/liquidy. Testing it on the cold plate in the freezer also did not work out correct. I eventually thought maybe it’s ready enough and poured it into the jars. But after chilling in the fridge they’re still very runny.
    I used the quantities listed in all of the ingredients so not sure what happened. Maybe just a fluke!

  • Susan
    February 25, 2019 7:31pm

    Hi David,
    My local grocery (it is a family-owned Italian grocery selling all kinds of produce including amazing citrus!) gets some really great varieties of grapefruit, oranges and blood oranges, even lemons and Buddha’s hand. Could this recipe be used to make, say, blood orange marmalade (and what about making candied peel using Buddha’s hand? I would love to try that.)
    Thanks!
    Susan

  • Tony B.
    February 25, 2019 8:40pm

    The day I was prescribed a popular cholesterol-lowering medication was particularly sad, as the pharmacist admonished me to avoid consuming grapefruit and grapefruit juice. I would so like to try this marmalade recipe.

  • Sally
    February 25, 2019 10:45pm

    Hi David-
    Oh my goodness, “Pamplemousse” is a wonderful word!! We named one of our five laying hens “Pampelmousse.” She is a giant Cochin, has absurd looking feathers on her feet, and refuses to lay her eggs in the nesting boxes but rather in a grass nest at the top of our backyard hill………so we made her a little canopy to protect her from the rain! A couple of those eggs (poached) with some bread and marmalade sounds divine. :)

  • Laurie
    March 1, 2019 7:52pm

    What a good idea. I like to throw a bit of booze in my jams. Best one so far was blueberry with a hint of pastis – incredibly tasty.

  • Rachael
    March 7, 2019 2:16am

    Would Grand Marnier be ok instead of vermouth?

    • March 7, 2019 8:01am
      David Lebovitz

      Orange liqueur would probably get lost in the mix. The vermouth adds a nice red color but if you don’t want to use red vermouth or another one of the other apéritifs I suggested, you might want to try whiskey.

      • Rachael
        March 7, 2019 3:58pm

        Thanks!

  • Sidika
    March 19, 2019 11:29pm

    Hi David,
    I am a fan of your recipes, they always work well, taste good. Unfortunately, this recipe turned out very bitter. Second time I blanched rinds but that didn’t work too. Am doing something wrong?

    • March 20, 2019 8:34am
      David Lebovitz

      I’ve made this several times and did not experience that, but if you did, perhaps it was the kind of grapefruit used? Some are more bitter than others; I used Ruby red grapefruit, but it should work with others. However if you tried pre-blanching it as well and that didn’t remove the bitterness, perhaps that’s the issue.

  • Angela
    March 23, 2019 3:26am

    Hi David,

    Do you use a regular stainless steel, or having visited the holy grail of cookware i.e. Mauviel Cookware Factory, a copper confiture pan (unlined) when making your preserves?

    • March 23, 2019 2:03pm
      David Lebovitz

      I use an All-Clad stainless steel Dutch oven-style pot for jam-making. I love the beautiful copper confiture pans from Mauviel but due to limited space, I don’t have a specific pot just for jam-making.