The scent of a perfectly ripe tomato evokes the essence of summer - a combination of grass, dirt, sunshine, fruit and taste. It's all about the taste. Nothing can match that taste, even tomatoes from the farmers’ market. Certainly not those imitation of life tomatoes from the grocery store. And, they are good for you too. The average tomato is 95% water and delivers only 30 calories, while being packed with Vitamins A, B & C, along with calcium and iron. So why not splurge… considering that biting into a ripe, juicy, still warm tomato just picked from the garden is one of summer’s greatest experiences.
This has been a difficult year for my garden tomatoes. First it was too cold and wet. Then we endured weeks of extreme heat and humidity, factors which cause the tomatoes to crack due to rapid growth. Luckily, our CSA share from a nearby farm has supplemented my home grown crop with oodles of heirloom varieties. I love their many colors – mottled, zebra striped, burgundy colored and mellow yellow. Oh, did I forget to mention ruby red? Then there are all kinds of cherry tomatoes to chose from, some as small as peas and intensely flavored.
On days when one can run the oven, I’ve been roasting these beauties drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with a touch of garlic, to freeze for winter eating. But my new favorite preparation is making tomato jam.
Tomato jam is a revelation -- it concentrates the sweet flavor of the tomatoes just as roasting does. But it has so many uses for right now, from dipping with crackers, to coating over a brick of cream cheese, to spreading on toast. Plus those who process jam in a boiling water bath can put up jars to save for a dreary day.
Choosing perfectly ripe tomatoes is crucial and like any jam, you need sugar for that gooey, sticky quality. Once you add that sugar, however, you need acid, because even though tomatoes are highly acidic, they need balance. For acid, one can use lemon juice, vinegar or lime juice. Each lends its particular flavor. And spices add their own notes. A bit of ginger in particular zings up the mix.
So on to the cooking. Rough chop the tomatoes and a few jalapenos. Cook the tomatoes and other ingredients on medium heat till the mixture is glossy, thick and spreadable – keep a plate in the freezer and make a trial to see if a teaspoon on that chilled saucer holds its shape – you can tell it’s done. Then sit back and enjoy.
Tomato & Chili Pepper Jam (Small Batch yields ~1 Pint)
1 ½-2 pounds fully ripe tomatoes, cored and chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced (or other hot peppers per your taste)
½ cup granulated sugar, ½ cup light brown sugar
2 tbs cider vinegar
1 whole clove garlic
1 tsp grated ginger
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp cumin
Optional: ¼ tsp cinnamon and ¼ tsp ground cloves
Combine all ingredients in a heavy, non-reactive pot. Bring to a boil, stirring often, then reduce heat to a simmer. Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally as mixture reduces to consistency of a sticky jam, about 1 hour. When finished cooking, remove the garlic clove and set aside. Meanwhile prepare canning jars, lids and rings in a hot water bath. Check for consistency by dipping a teaspoon into the jam mixture and watch to see if it coats the spoon without dripping. When jam has reached desired consistency fill jars leaving ¼ inch head space. Wipe rims on the jars, apply lids and twist on rings. Process in boiling water for 20 minutes. Remove and let cool. Optional: I roasted the tomatoes and chilis first, reduced the cooking time to 30 minutes, and did not water process. In this preparation, the jam can be refrigerated up to a week.
Note: the finished yield can vary depending on the kind of tomatoes used, the width of the pan and the thickness to which you cook the jam.
My friends at the Sunday Supper Movement are contributing ideas today for preserving summer’s bounty. Many thanks to Renee Pajestka for hosting this event. Check out their recipes below:
- Blackberry Lemon Thyme Syrup by Sunday Supper Movement
- Brinjal pickle (Indian eggplant relish/aubergine chutney) by Caroline’s Cooking
- Freezer Mixed Berry Puree by Cindy’s Recipes and Writings
- Ginger Fig Jam by Palatable Pastime
- Herbed Salsa by What Smells So Good?
- Homemade Giardiniera by Curious Cuisiniere
- Homemade Sriracha by Monica’s Table
- Hot Pepper Oil by Feeding Big and more
- Mediterranean Chutney by Wholistic Woman
- Nanny’s 7-Day Sweet Pickles by Grumpy’s Honeybunch
- Nectarine Kumquat Habanero Chutney by Food Lust People Love
- No Pectin Mixed Berry Jam by My Imperfect Kitchen
- Peach Butter by Redhead Baker
- Pear Ginger Jam by Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks
- Simple Basil Butter by Momma’s Meals
- Spicy Mango Jam by Family Foodie
- Stove Top Roasted Garlic by Cricket’s Confections
- Tomato and Chili Pepper Jam by Delaware Girl Eats
- Grilled Peach and Burrata Pizza by An Appealing Plan
- Oven Roasted Tomato Basil Marinara Sauce by Renee’s Kitchen Adventures
- Tomato-Zucchini Pesto Flatbread with Chevre and Balsamic Drizzle by The Weekend Gourmet
- Homemade Fruit Leather by A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures
- Slow Cooker Cinnamon Apple Sauce by Books n’ Cooks
- Chocolate Zucchini Banana Muffins by The Bitter Side of Sweet
- Drunken Peaches by Nosh My Way
- Freeze and Bake Blueberry Pie by That Skinny Chick Can Bake
- How to Freeze Peaches and Make Peach Sauce by The Freshman Cook
- How to Make Chocolate Zucchini Bread by Asian In America
- Mom’s Zucchini Bread by Cosmopolitan Cornbread
- Peach Yogurt Popsicles by Food Done Light
- Summer Fruit Crisp by Pies and Plots
- Summer Fruit Popsicles by Powered By BLING
- Berry Shrubs + A Cocktail by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board. Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.