It's not only zucchini that can overflow the garden at this time of year. Tomatoes also have a way of stepping up production as if they knew that cold nights will soon be …
By Patricia West-BarkerIt's not only zucchini that can overflow the garden at this time of year. Tomatoes also have a way of stepping up production as if they knew that cold nights will soon be bringing their brief season to an end.
One way to use up those end-of-season tomatoes -- and capture the special color and flavor of summer in a jar -- is by making tomato jam.
Although the idea of a jam that is more savory than sweet may still seem a bit odd to some, recipes for the condiment began showing up in the United States in 1840. A simple version even appears in The Little House Cookbook, a collection of recipes for pioneer foods that appeared in Laura Ingalls Wilder's classic books.
According to a 2015 report from a menu-trend market research firm, savory jams have outranked Sriracha as "the fastest growing condiment for sandwiches and burgers," with bacon jams showing the biggest growth and tomato jams running close behind.
Is "tomato jam" just a fancy name for good old American ketchup? Not at all. The tomatoes in ketchup are mashed, boiled and strained several times to achieve that smooth texture, and seasoned with a good dose of vinegar to balance off the sugar and spices. Tomato jam, on the other hand, is chunky, more like a marmalade, and contains zero vinegar, the added acid coming from fresh lemon (or sometimes lime) juice.
There are dozens of ways to power through a jar of tomato jam. It pairs particularly well with grilled cheese and turkey sandwiches and adds an unexpected sweet-salty hit to burgers. Serve it on a bagel alongside a dab of cream cheese. Thinned with a little olive oil, you can use it to glaze roast chicken, fish or pork, or deepen the flavor of a store-bought tomato sauce.
You can buy tomato jam in many supermarkets, but it's so easy to make at home that it's worth the effort. Your garden or farmers market will thank you as will your taste buds when summer is only a fading memory.
This recipe is adapted from one posted on the Serious Eats blog in 2011.
(Makes 3 half-pints)
3 pounds blemish-free ripe tomatoes, cored and coarsely chopped
2 cups granulated sugar
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves (optional)
2 tablespoons liquid pectin (optional)
Combine all ingredients except pectin in a large, heavy-bottomed pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat and simmer until the mixture reaches a thick, jam-like consistency, about 2-1/2 hours. Keep the heat low enough that the jam does not burn. If using the pectin, stir it in and simmer for one or two minutes more.
Ladle the hot jam into very clean jars, leaving 1/4 -inch headspace at the top of each. Cover, cool and refrigerate for up to two weeks. For longer storage, store in freezer until you are ready to open another jar.
If you'd like to preserve your jam, follow the guidelines for hot water canning on the New Mexico State University College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences website aces.nmsu.edu/pubs/_e/E314.