Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Tomato Jam

Have I mentioned I love farmer’s markets? I grew up in Calgary, and the Calgary farmer’s markets used to be a little few and far between, and not at all on my radar. I know things have expanded considerably since then, but hey, I’m in the Okanagan now, and my kitchen and freezer live here with me. When I moved here nearly ten years ago I got the best kind of shock – table after glorious table of greens, roots, and fruit. Of course there’s lots going on at the market that isn’t food related, but it’s the fresh produce that steals my heart and makes me lose my head. I get produce amnesia.
What happens is this: I’ll pull up to the stall of one of my favourite growers and work my way through their table from one side to the other, buying everything that’s not nailed down. Then I move onto the next stall on my list, totally forget that I’ve already collected, say green beans, tomatoes and kale, and purchase more of the same from the second vendor.  Clearly this wanton buying of produce gets me into trouble, and I’m forever trying to remind myself that there are three markets every week, and that I’m not about to depart on a year-long space odyssey with only the food I get TODAY.

One particular day not long ago I discovered I’d brought home not only a huge basket of Roma tomatoes but also two smaller punnets of red and orange cherry tomatoes. A week later I came home with everything I needed to muster up a Thanksgiving turkey dinner. I unpacked all the lovely root vegetables and bunches of greens and fresh herbs, put the turkey in a cooler in the garage, and brought in the twenty pound box of plums that I insanely thought I’d turn into jam the following morning before popping the turkey in the oven (didn’t happen). And then I found the Romas: still in their basket and eyeing me with censure.
Now, you’ve got to realize that these Romas were just the most tantalizing little tomatoes I’ve ever seen. They were quite small – just a bit bigger around than my thumb, smooth and solidly red throughout. I flirted briefly with the idea of roasting them all in the oven or turning them into paste, but in the end I decided on jam (sounds like an excerpt from Hansel & Gretel).

Marisa of Food in Jars has a great looking recipe. I reduced the sugar by about a quarter, fiddled with the seasonings, and came up with this:  

Tomato Jam
Stupendous on meatballs, with oven-fries, grilled cheese sandwiches etc. If you like ketchup, try this – it’s better. If you’re not fond of ketchup, you should SO try this – it’s better. 
6 cups (1250 grams) chopped tomatoes, neither peeled nor seeded 
1 1/3 cup (330 grams) sugar 
2 finely chopped fresh bird’s eye chilies, ribs and seeds discarded (feel free to
      substitute a jalapeño, or a few pinches of red pepper flakes. Or omit
      altogether. And make sure you use gloves to handle the peppers!)
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
juice of 1 lime
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Combine all ingredients in a large non-reactive saucepan or Dutch oven, and bring to a simmer, stirring frequently. Cook until thick and bubbling and altogether dark and jam-like – about an hour and a half. You can ladle the jam into sterilized jars and process, but I just put half in the fridge for now, and the other half in the freezer for later. Makes about 2 -2 1/2 cups.


  1. This looks fab! And I have so many tomatoes that need transforming!

  2. Hi Sue,

    Glad to see a second post as I really like the concept of your blog, that you are a fellow Canadian and live in the Okanagan. You have a fresh and easy approach to food, your writing style is cozy. (No wonder that you and Julie are pals...."Dinner With Julie" is great!)

    I too, always seem to have impulse-bought plastic clamshells of tomatoes on hand that stare at me in that forlorn way once a couple of their comrades have been chopped into fresh salads. Now I know I can toss them into this jammy concoction without the need to peel or seed! Yahoo!

  3. P picked some Romas in Oliver in the summer fully expecting to make some tomato/blackberry ketchup. Needless to say time ran out on me and they languish in the freezer. I hope to give away jars for the holidays:D

  4. May try this recipe next harvest. My tomato ginger chile jam (sweet, thick and heavy on the ginger, chiles and garlic) is a family favourite — particularly with pork. Here's the recipe: http://growcookeatla.wordpress.com/2011/09/11/tomato-ginger-chile-jam/ ‎