The heirloom and roma tomatoes we planted this year are going gangbusters now, so I’ve had to become creative about preserving them. A few weeks ago, Dan and I went to the Seawall Art Show in downtown Portsmouth. On our way home we stopped at Bowman’s Garden Center, looking for onion sets for the garden, and instead we found a variety of organic, homemade dips and spreads for sale, along with samples.
So we tried tomato jam for the first time, and it was surprisingly good. The flavor made me think of strawberry jam, although it doesn’t really taste like strawberries – just something about it was reminiscent of them. The label said it contained tomatoes, sugar, citric acid and salt. Too easy, I thought, I can make that. So we came home and I Googled around for a while, and, after reading several recipes, came up with the following one. I added a tsp. or so of vinegar at the end, because it tasted a bit too sweet to me.
I also found a great alternative to blanching tomatoes for peeling them – grating them with the big holes on a box grater! It was so easy, I could hardly believe it, and took only a few minutes to make tomato puree out of about 12 roma tomatoes. The seeds are still there, but that doesn’t bother me; according to Cook’s Illustrated, much of the tomato flavor is in the seeds and surrounding “jelly.”
1 1/2 pounds good ripe tomatoes (Roma are best), cut in half crosswise and grated
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 jalapeno pepper, finely minced (forgot about this till after I first posted – see below)
1 teaspoon salt
Combine all ingredients in a heavy medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until mixture has consistency of thick jam, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning, then cool and refrigerate. This will keep at least a week. Makes about 2 cups.
ETA: Today, I took some of the tomato jam with fresh-baked biscuits to work and a co-worker asked me if there was anything hot in it. I completely forgot until that moment that Dan had suggested I chop up a jalapeno pepper from the garden and add it in for some more flavor. It’s not enough to make you go Ow, but enough to make you say, Hm, what’s in there?