Monday, September 10, 2012
When I mention to people that I'm making tomato jam, the reply is often "Huh?" Or, "Wha.." Or, "Tomato jam? You can't make jam out of tomatoes!" Someone once said that I've probably done enough canning for the year if I have to resort to jamming-up tomatoes. Listen, I get it. It sounds a little weird. But then once I explain the taste (kind of like ketchup) and how I use it (on soft cheeses, to top burgers, mixed with mayonnaise for sandwiches, combined with oil and other ingredients for salad dressing, or as a starting point to BBQ sauce), people are generally more open-minded to the recipe.
This tomato jam recipe is a great way to use up tomatoes, especially those times when you don't quiet have enough to make a batch of sauce, but eating them fresh just doesn't sound that interesting. Do not remove the skins and seeds from your tomatoes - you'll need them to create a nice, thick, jammy-texture.
Makes about 4 1/2 cups (4 1/2 half-pint jars)
4 pounds tomatoes (I used a mix of heirloom slicing tomatoes and plum varieties)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 red onion, peeled and diced finely
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoons fresh ginger, finely grated
1 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons bottled lemon juice*
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes (more, if you like spicy!)
1. Wash and weigh your tomatoes (remove any stems). Cut them into a large dice (remove hard hulls), set aside.
2. In your jam pot, heat oil over medium-low heat and add garlic, onion, and salt. Saute for a few minutes until the garlic is golden and onions begin to soften and look glassy (be careful not to burn your garlic! The taste will be too bitter to correct later in the recipe. If you blacken the garlic, rinse out your pot and start over).
3. Add to the pot the tomatoes, ginger, vinegar, lemon juice, sugars, cloves, cinnamon sticks, and red pepper flakes. Stir together and bring to a boil (over high heat). Once the mixture boils, reduce heat to medium and allow to simmer for 30 minutes. Stir frequently, scraping the bottom of the pot to avoid burning.
4. After 30 minutes, the tomatoes should be soft and easily squished with the back of a wooden spoon. The jam should also be thick, around the consistency of a chunky tomato sauce. Turn off the heat and allow jam to cool slightly. If you are freezing or storing your jam in the refrigerator, ladle the jam into desired containers.
5. To can this jam, ladle it into sterilized half-pint (or smaller) jars, leaving a 1/2-inch headspace. Wipe rims clean, use a chopstick or butter knife to remove air bubbles, and seal with lids and bands. Process in a pressure canner or hot water-bath canner (half-pint jars will need about seven minutes to be properly preserved). Canned tomato jam will last in a cool, dry place for up to 12 months. Frozen jam will last for about eight months, while jam in the fridge will stay tasty for three-to-four months.
*Lemon juice boosts the acidity of tomatoes to make them acceptable for canning. So, add the bottled lemon juice or... face uncertain death through botulism. Your choice.