A sticky tomato jam recipe, equal parts honey-sweetened and pepper-spiced for a bit of kick.
The word bustling doesn’t accurately describe the state of the farmers markets this time of year. As soon as the blushing apples and ginger-kissed pumpkins start appearing on the tables of the individual stalls the energy level in the already active space seems to be notched up to eleven. The vendors have bushels and boxes for sale, selling off the last of summer’s goodness and the bounty that cooler temps has brought.
Zucchini and acorn squash live side by side; watermelons and pumpkins share space on overflowing card tables; green beans, garlic, and golden potatoes hold court amidst the lively rows.
This time of year on any given Saturday you’ll find a pot of tomatoes simmering on my stove, trying desperately to wrap up the flavors and colors—the bright reds and yellows, orange- and green-stripes—and store it, to be unleashed midwinter when the ground is covered with white and the sky seems to be permanently rendered a dismal shade of grey.
Though I love jars for desserts and smoothies and storage and more, I don’t do well with large batches of jam or pickles. Small batches or three or four jars to hide for a rainy day are much more my style. Turning a few peaches into yogurt toppings for those months where my skin can barely recall warming rays of sunshine and the soft fuzz of the sun-warmed fruit is just what I need to make it through winter to the next growing season.
Marisa’s site Food in Jars gave life to an equally lovely cookbook, making her collection of recipes available in full color at my fingertips for every season with small batches to preserve just enough for you to eat and maybe share a jar or two with a lucky friend or deserving relative. It quickly became my most-used canning cookbook, which sustains me from the heavy harvest of autumn through the citrus-kissed winter into a just sprung spring and during summer with recipes to capture to the flavor of each season.
Canning need not be daunting, and small batches are the way to start, in my opinion. They are quick and easy, and they don’t leave you with that overwhelmed feeling of “what have I gotten myself into?” as you stand in the kitchen surrounded by more produce than you could consume in four months at three meals a day. Ball, the leader in canning here in the United States, has a delightful kit to get you started as well, making the transfer of glass from water to counter a seamless process and funnels to keep all those cooked liquids headed in the right direction.
Tomato jam has been on my to-do list for a while, a sticky sweet mess for pairing with tangy, rind-encased soft cheeses and spreading onto hamburgers where I generally don’t allow ketchup to go. It is as the main sweetener, but with a bit of turbinado sugar to help with the setting of this jam and add a touch of caramel flavor to the mix. The red pepper flakes add a bit of kick and lingering heat, which helps balance the sweet and gives this jam a broad range of uses.
::Try these with 4-ounce jars to tuck into care packages and gift baskets.
::Use tomato jam on toast, with soft cheese, spread on sandwiches, over meatloaf, or as a ketchup substitute for fries or whatever else you pour ketchup on.
2 cups honey
1/2 cup turbinado sugar
8 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon red chili pepper flakes
2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
Combine the tomatoes, honey, sugar, lime juice, red chili flakes, ginger, cumin, cinnamon, and the cloves in a non-reactive pot over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the mixture reduces and becomes a jam consistency (sticky and thick), about 1 1/2 to 2 hours depending on the type of tomato and the size of the pot you use.
When the jam is close to the desired consistency, prepare 4 pint jars, rings, and lids (or eight 8-ounce jars) by boiling them for 10 minutes to sterilize. Remove from the water to a dry towel.
When the jam is cooked, remove from the heat and fill the jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe the rims, apply the lids, and twist on the rings. Process the jars in boiling water bath for 20 minutes.
Remove the jars from the water bath to a clean, dry towel. When they are cool enough to handle, test the seals. Any unsealed jars can be moved to the refrigerator and consumed now. Sealed jars can be stored in a dark, cool place for up to one year.
*recipe adapted from the inimitable Marisa McClellan
Makes 4 pint-sized jars of jam
I’m giving away a Ball Home Canning Discovery Kit, which includes a coupon for a free case of jars and some wonderful tools to make canning easy; and Food in Jars by Marisa McClellan. Simply leave a comment below to be entered to win.
This is a wonderful way to start preserving the seasons in your home on a smaller scale. It is perfect for the farmers market shoppers wanting to bring those last bits of produce of the harvest into their home.
I will randomly draw a name Thursday, September 26th at 11:59 p.m. CDT. Ball has provided the Ball Canning Kit, and the cookbook is graciously provided by Running Press. Opinions, words, drivel, and everything else here is mine and mine alone.