Tomato jam that`s the jam

Canning takes a twist in this tasty concoction

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Julie Petrella

The recipe I am about to share with you may be the reason I have transformed into a total canning nerd overnight. Sure, my new obsession with canning isn’t all that surprising. I have a garden and need to figure out how to preserve some of its harvest. I also dabbled in canning last year when I was overwhelmed by my first crop from my fig tree. I’m crafty and I love to cook. I own a shop called Home Made. Clearly, this was bound to happen.

 

I went out for brunch recently and ordered a breakfast sandwich. On this breakfast sandwich was your usual bacon, scrambled eggs and cheese. To make it even yummier, it was even served on homemade brioche. But, what stole this breakfast sandwich show was the tomato jam on it. Tomato jam!

Despite how much I love ketchup, it never occurred to me that tomatoes could belong in jam. It’s actually pretty brilliant. And probably way easier than making homemade ketchup. I know this because I made homemade tomato sauce for the freezer last year and cringe at the thought of spending an entire day blanching, peeling and deseeding tomatoes all for the sake of a mediocre sauce. Maybe it’s worth it if your sauce doesn’t turn out mediocre, but mine did. And I’m over it for now.

After hearing that, you might’ve guessed that a major selling point for me trying this particular tomato jam recipe was that I could just dice up my tomatoes and throw ’em in a pot with a bunch of other stuff to simmer. No blanching. No peeling. And, leave those seeds in. Soon a divine cinnamony-ginger-clove smell escapes your pot, requiring you to constantly stir, sniff and then congratulate yourself for making such sweet-smelling goodness. When you’re ready to eat, it goes something like — smear, taste, congratulate, smear more, eat, congratulate, brag to friends.

I wouldn’t say I’ve totally broken up with ketchup, but I prefer tomato jam on my turkey burger instead. It’s also great on grilled cheese.

One thing I will note is that in most canning recipes there’s quite a bit of sugar. Like, the 3 1/2 cups for this tomato jam recipe is actually not that much. Yikes, I know! Sugar is critical to preserving your food and helping along that jammy texture. Of course, you could use honey or opt for less sugar, but you’ve got to be mindful of how that will affect the shelf life of your jam. Though, shelf life may not be a huge problem with making something so delicious, but definitely food for thought.

Enjoy.

TOMATO JAM

From Marisa McClellan, the writer and canner behind the www.FoodinJars.com blog and the author of Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year Round.

The yield on this recipe varies from about 3-5 pints, depending on the tomatoes and how much you cook it down.

5 pounds tomatoes, finely chopped

3 1/2 cups sugar

8 tbsp. lime juice

2 tsp. freshly grated ginger

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ground cloves

1 tbsp. salt

1 tbsp. red chili flakes

Combine all ingredients in a large, non-reactive pot. Bring to a boil and then reduce temperature to a simmer. Stirring regularly, simmer the jam until it reduces to a sticky, jammy mess. This will take between one and one-and-a-half hours, depending on how high you keep your heat.

When the jam has cooked down sufficiently, remove from heat and fill jars, leaving a quarter-inch of head space. Wipe rims, apply lids and twist on rings. Process in a boiling water canner for 20 minutes.

When time is up, remove jars from water bath and allow them to cool. When jars are cool enough to handle, test seals. Store jars in a cool, dark place for up to one year.

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Julie Petrella is the owner and operator of Home Made, a craft shop and studio in Cape May County, New Jersey. Julie also writes about the making and doing she loves on her blog at www.behomemade.com/blog.