Last weekend, a friend and I braved the rain and drove north to another friend’s house to make tomato jam. It was a dreary day, which sort of added to the fun. Cooking with friends, taking breaks to eat wine and cheese, just feels like a very fall thing to do. And while I’ve resisted fall like crazy, it does appear to be not going anywhere (it’s actually beautiful today – a rare treat for a fall Saturday).
We wanted to do something with tomatoes, sort of a last hurrah to summer, and settled on jam because none of us had made anything like this before, and also we do love jam. We chose a recipe from Food in Jars. This recipe has holiday spices, so if you’re looking for something more straight up savory I’d recommend this one.
This recipe is one of those super easy yet time consuming projects. Perfect for a rainy afternoon with friends! It’s great because you don’t have to peel or seed the tomatoes. And, after combining all the ingredients, you cook for an hour and a half or more. We enjoyed wine, some good music, and a potluck lunch, while occasionally popping up to stir.
Aside: One of my friends has a sister that works as an ethnobotanist for a tribe in the SW, and she makes foods using traditional native ingredients. As a result, we had prickly pear jelly and wild grape jelly with lunch, what a treat! The prickly pear was especially wonderful – and it was bright pink! Perfect.
The tomato jam has a really interesting flavor – acidic and tomato-y, but sweet too. And it contains chili flakes and cloves, so it’s hot and heady, too. We were brainstorming what to do with it – on toast with butter, over a mild cheese, on burgers or pork. I’m glad we made it in tiny jars, so I can experiment but still have some really cute ones for holiday parties.
Spiced Tomato Jam (recipe from Food in Jars, here)
5 pounds tomatoes, finely chopped (no need to seed or peel, yay!)
3 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup 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 pot. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer (we did medium low). Cook, stirring regularly, until it reduces and gets the thickness you desire. This took us about 2 hours. We did the plate test – keep a small plate in the freezer and put the warm jam on it. Put back in the freezer for 2 minutes, and if it wrinkles when you touch it it will set into jam.
Remove from heat and fill jars, leaving 1/4 inch of head space. Wipe rims, apply lids and twist on rings. Process in a boiling water canner for 20 minutes. (Umm… I think we may have done it for 10 minutes? Whoops.)