It was Mother’s Day here last Sunday.
As both my grandmothers died last year, it was the first Mother’s Day for both of my parents without their own mothers. This year, I was more aware than ever that Mother’s Day, and similar holidays, can be such a bittersweet occasion.
We have always used Mother’s Day as an excuse to get the family together for a riotous lunch and plenty of champagne; this year, a much smaller group of us raised a glass to absent mothers.
I like to think that my mother knows how much I appreciate her. But I fear that in between our email exchanges where I snappishly try to explain how to paginate documents in Word and the reminder texts that I get about whether I’ve written my thank you letters from Christmas, it probably gets lost.
I know that, in theory, I shouldn’t just set aside the fourth sunday of Lent (as it is) for letting her know how much she means to me. I may not want to let her know every day because, frankly, that would be a bit weird and I’m pretty she has better things to be doing with her time, even if I don’t. But still, if the last year has taught me anything, it’s taught me that I have to make more of an effort because I don’t want to wake up one morning and realise that it’s too late.
Saying all of that that, I knew that she would appreciate a little package of some of her favourite things (namely caviar and champagne) to mark the occasion. I also slipped in a little bag of homemade grapefruit zest; something that I know she is very partial to. It is such an easy thing to make and, as it will last a month or so in the fridge, is a perfect gift.
Candied grapefruit zest
Yield: About 1/2 a cup
I’ve done this with orange before but I was a little worried that the grapefruit would be too bitter, hence blanching it four times. I needn’t have been concerned though and I probably could have got away with one less blanche – there’s plenty of sugar to balance out the bitterness. For a slightly more sophisticated treat, you can dip the candied zest in chocolate rather than rolling it in sugar.
- 1 grapefruit (I used a ruby red grapefruit)
- 225g (1 cup) granulated/caster sugar plus a little more for rolling the zest
- Several cups of cold water
Peel the skin of the grapefruit – I used the little funny poking out bit of my zester but you can just chop it by hand. You don’t want too much of the pith but I little isn’t the end of the world.
Place the peel in a small saucepan, cover with cold water, bring to the boil over a medium heat and then drain and return to the pan. Repeat two or three times depending on how sweet your grapefruit is.
When the grapefruit has been blanched sufficiently, dissolve the sugar in the pan with a cup of water. Bring it to the boil and allow it to simmer for a few minutes until syrupy.
Add the zest to the pan and cook at a simmer for about 30 minutes until almost translucent. You can swirl the pan but try not to stir.
When cooked, remove from the liquid, pat dry and then, if desired, roll in a little extra sugar. Leave to dry for a couple of hours before serving.