Grapefruit Honey Jam . . . Or Is it Marmalade?

Grapefruit jam or marmalade sweetened with honey

At this time of year, citrus is rolling all over the Internet. Lately, I’ve seen lemons, blood oranges, and kumquatskumquatskumquats. I thought I’d better get my act together and write up this recipe before all the good grapefruits turn into strawberries, as they will before we know it. (You can see from the date in the picture that I’ve been meaning to get to this one for a while.) One of the main reasons I’m keeping this blog, these days, is to document my experiments replacing sugar with honey in preserves, and this one was worth scribbling down.

A couple years ago, I decided to call these mashups of citrus and sweetness “jam,” though some people will definitely say “marmalade” because the whole fruit is used, even the rind. But I still believe marmalade is more intense and takes more time: the carefully sliced rind, the long soaking, the slow chase of the perfect, translucent set. (There’s a very interesting post about how marmalade sets at different temps here, BTW. Great visuals!)

To me, this is jam because it’s just fruit solids, honey, and lemon juice, mixed up and cooked fast. The grapefruit tastes surprisingly fresh. You can also find lovely citrus jams made in a more classic way, without the rind. Food in Jars’ grapefruit jam is a good example. The way I’m doing it here is decidedly rough cut — God, I’m tired of the word “rustic.” Are you?

Grapefruit jam or marmalade sweetened with honey

This recipe is based on one of my all time favorites, Texas Ruby Red Marmalade, by the Cosmic Cowgirl — aka the award-winning Stephanie McClenny of Confituras, from Austin, Texas. I’ve been making her recipe several times a year for four years now, sometimes adding half a cup of champagne and calling it grapefruit mimosa jam. I never wanted to post my own version because who needs to mess with perfection?

But trying it without sugar — using only honey? I had no idea how this would work out. (I’ve successfully made jams with Meyer lemons and honey and Rangpur limes and honey, but this was a first for graperfruit.) Even as it was cooking, I didn’t know. Was it going to thicken enough? (Clearly, it did.) Would the honey taste overcooked? (Thank goodness, it doesn’t, because with three and a half cups of wildflower honey, that would be an expensive mistake.) I’m happy to have another preserve that works without refined sugar.

Do know that you must really and truly love grapefruit to love this preserve — either Stephanie’s version or this one. It’s got a bitter kick cuz it’s good that way.

Grapefruit Honey Jam

makes about 3 pints

3 pounds organic pink or red grapefruit
3 1/2  cups wildflower honey
juice of one lemon

Wash the grapefruits, slice them in half, and place them in a large stock pot. Add enough water to cover the fruit by a couple of inches and then simmer, uncovered, until the grapefruit halves are very soft. This usually takes about an hour and a half. (I test them with a wooden skewer. They’re done when it’s easy to pierce them all the way through.) Add more hot water if needed during the simmering process.

Drain the grapefruit halves and set them aside until you can handle them without burning your hands. Then place a cutting board inside a roasting pan. Cut the grapefruit into chunks, removing the big seeds as you work. (This part is all from Stephanie. I’m so glad she figured out the cutting board in the roasting pan thing. It keeps you from making a huge mess.) Don’t worry about any tiny seeds. After what comes next, you’ll never notice them.

Put the grapefruit chunks into a food processor and process until finely chopped. (You can see a picture of this by following the link to the Cosmic Cowgirl recipe, above.) For this recipe, I think it’s best to chop them quite fine, though you don’t want to turn them into an indistinct mush.

Transfer the chopped grapefruit to your jam pot and add the honey and lemon juice. (Don’t scrimp on the quality of your honey. You will taste it, so it needs to be great.) I found it helpful to warm the honey first. Slowly bring the mixture to a gently boil, then simmer and stir frequently until the jam thickens. There’s really no need to do a fancy test for the set with this one. You’ll see distinct clear tracking (slow to fill) across the bottom of the pan when it’s done and it will already be mounding up on a spoon. (I forgot to write down how long this took. My best guess is 20-25 minutes.)

Ladle or pour the jam into clean, hot jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace. Bubble your jars with a wooden chopstick or other tool of choice. Wipe rims, apply lids, and process 15 minutes in a hot-water bath, adjusting time for your altitude if necessary.

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Also, I wanted to quickly follow up on my post about saving citrus trees from freezes and frosts with Christmas lights. It worked fabulously. The Rangpur limes are here to prove it . . .

Rangpur lime tree in a half wine barrel

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