Winter Recipe: White Grapefruit & Elderflower Marmalade

published Jan 14, 2014
White Grapefruit & Elderflower Marmalade
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(Image credit: Emily Han)

Ruby red grapefruits tend to get all the glory, but lately I’ve been relishing the white-fleshed yellow variety thanks to an abundant little grove of grapefruit trees near my mother-in-law’s house in Southern California. The best yellow grapefruits have just the right balance of acid and sugar — not too sweet, not too puckery, and with a pleasant trace of bitterness. This makes for excellent marmalade and a nice change of pace from the standard orange kinds.

(Image credit: Emily Han)

Growing just around the bend from these particular grapefruits is a cluster of elder trees — the inspiration for this grapefruit and elderflower marmalade. The delicate elderflower pairs beautifully with the citrus in a way that’s subtly floral and refreshing. It won’t hit you over the head, but it will give the preserves an extra note of warmth and sunshine.

(Image credit: Emily Han)

The recipe calls for elderflower cordial, and if you have access to elderflowers, you can make homemade cordial (the linked recipes use fresh elderflowers, but a half-quantity of dried flowers will also work). You can also use a store-bought product such as Elderflower Cordial from Belvoir Fruit Farms or Flädersaft from IKEA. Or even experiment with a splash of St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur.

(Image credit: Emily Han)

White Grapefruit & Elderflower Marmalade

Makes about 3 half-pint jars

Nutritional Info


  • 1

    large white or yellw grapefruit (preferably organic)

  • Pinch kosher salt

  • 4 cups

    water, plus more for cooking the peels

  • 3-4 cups

    granulated sugar

  • 1/4 cup

    elderflower cordial


  1. Wash the grapefruit. Cut off the top and bottom and discard. Score the peel into quarters and then carefully pull the peel off the grapefruit. Using a metal spoon, gently scrape and discard the bitter white pith from the backside of the peels. Thinly slice the peels. Place the peels in a large non-reactive saucepan, add a pinch of salt, and cover well with water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and boil for 10 minutes, periodically pushing the peels down with a wooden spoon. Drain and return the peels to the saucepan.

  2. Working over a bowl, use a sharp knife to separate the grapefruit flesh from the membranes. After removing the flesh, squeeze any juice from the membranes. Add the flesh and juice plus 4 cups of water to the saucepan with the peels. Boil over medium-high heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand for 12 to 18 hours.

  3. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and boil until the peel is tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and measure the fruit mixture (there should be 3 to 4 cups). Measure out an equal amount of sugar. Spread the sugar on a baking sheet and heat it in a 200°F oven until warmed.

  4. Return the fruit mixture to the saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add a small pinch of salt and stir in the warmed sugar. Cook at a rapid boil, stirring frequently, until it reaches a gel set, about 30 minutes. Stir in the elderflower cordial and boil for 30 seconds. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes.

  5. Ladle the marmalade into 3 sterilized half-pint jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Seal and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Recipe Notes

Adapted from Grapefruit Marmalade in Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving