Wander into a sunny oasis of winter flavors in this week’s How-Tuesday post by Marissa McClellan, author of the blog, Food in Jars, and the cookbook, Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-Round.
January can be a cruel month for jam makers. Summer berries are a distant memory, and the peaches and plums of early autumn have been gone for months. Even hardy storage apples and pears have begun to lose their appeal.
Fear not, canners! There’s no need to hang up the preserving pan. Instead, turn to citrus to satisfy your urge to simmer, stir and put up. Though I make all manner of curds, marmalades and preserved lemons this time of year, my secret favorite is a quick grapefruit jam. It takes the bright, astringent flavor of a ruby red and softens it with sugar and heat. The finished product is sweet, tart and just slightly edgy.
I like it best stirred into creamy Greek yogurt or spooned atop freshly baked scones (grate some zest into the scone dough to complement the jam).
You Will Need:
8 large red grapefruit (approximately 4 pounds)
2 1/2 cups granulated white sugar
1 yard cheesecloth, folded
A wide, non-reactive pan (5 quarts or larger)
Yield: 4 half pints
1. Start by supreming the grapefruit. Do this by cutting off the top and bottom of the fruit. Then, working from north pole to south, cut the rind off the fruit (you want to expose the interior surface of the fruit).
2. When rind is entirely removed, use the knife to separate the fruit from the membrane. Take care to collect the naked fruit sections and their juice in a large bowl.
3. While you separate the fruit from the membranes, take care to set aside all the seeds you find. Once you’ve finished breaking down the fruit, bundle those seeds up in the cheesecloth. They give the jam the pectin it needs to set up.
4. Once all the fruit is sectioned out, pour it into a large, non-reactive pot and add the sugar and the cheesecloth bundle containing the seeds. Stir until the sugar begins to dissolve.
5. Turn the heat to high and bring the fruit mixture to a boil. Cook at a bubble, stirring regularly, until the jam reaches 220 degrees and passes the plate/sauce/wrinkle test (remove the pot from the heat source while you’re testing to prevent scorching).
6. When the jam passes a set test, pour into clean, hot jars. Apply lids and rings and process in a boiling water bath for ten minutes. If you’re not familiar with the ins-and-outs of the canning process, my friend has terrific step-by-step canning 101 post, and, of course, I go into this in depth in my book.
Want to skip the canning step? Simply pour the jam into clean jars and keep it in the fridge. It will keep at least a month this way.
7. When time is up, remove jars from canner and let them cool on a folded kitchen towel. When jars are cool to the touch, remove rings and test seals. Store sealed jars in a cool, dark place. Any unsealed jars should be refrigerated and used first.
If you make your own grapefruit jam, share a photo with us in the Etsy Labs Flickr group. For more canning recipes like this one, check out Marissa’s blog, Food in Jars, or her cookbook of the same name, available on Amazon or from your friendly local bookseller.