Sunday, September 18, 2011

Tomato Jam

Tomato jam, so good it glistens
 Jam! Jam! Jam! Jam! Jam! (Not quite as good as Spam! Spam! Spam! but it still has a certain ring to it). I thought long and hard about whether or not to make tomato jam. Tomatoes are a fruit but we normally treat them like a vegetable. Would they make a good jam?  I had 3 pounds of end of the season tomatoes. The weather is getting cooler and the tomato season is drawing to a close. Did I want to use my tomatoes for tomato jam? It took a day to decide but I decided yes, tomato jam it is.
I wanted a sweet spicy tomato jam. So I used brown sugar to sweeten, lemon peppers for spicy, and smoked paprika for well, smokey. I think ancho or chipotle peppers would be splendid in this jam; I used lemon peppers because I have about a hundred of them ripening on two pepper plants.
The next question was whether or not to can it.  To water bath can the pH must below 4.6. Tomatoes fall close to the low acid level and to process tomatoes citric acid or lemon or lime juice needs to be added (about a tablespoon of lemon juice or 1/4 teaspoon of citric acid per pint). Of course, I could always use a pressure cooker to can the tomato jam. I decided to just keep the tomato jam in the refrigerator. It will keep for a couple of weeks in the refrigerator.
The final decision, to skin or not to skin. I decided to skin the tomatoes. I usually don't take the skins off; I think they add flavor to a dish. It is easy to skin a tomato: just cut a "X" onto the bottom of the tomato and drop into boiling water. Boil the tomato for two to three minutes and the skins should come right off.

Tomato Jam
3 Lbs (1.36 kg) of Tomatoes, Skins Removed, Cored, and Diced
1-2 Spicy Peppers, Small Diced
5 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
1 Cup (218 g) of Brown Sugar, Packed
1 Tsp of Smoked Paprika
3 Tbsp of Lime Juice
1 Tsp of Salt

Dump all of the ingredients into a large saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring frequently.
Everything dumped in the saucepan
Lower heat and simmer (just below the boiling point; there should be small bubbles rising gently to the surface) until a jam like consistency is reached (approximately 1 hour to an hour and a half).
Ready to be eaten
Pour into a sterile jar and keep in the refrigerator.
A jar of tomato jam
The bottom line: Will I make this again? Yes, it is brilliant. It is sweet, spicy, and smokey. It can be used just like pepper jelly (over creamed cream and served with crackers). I am going to serve it on grilled bread. It can be used like a super ketchup (on hamburgers, meatloaf, and with french fries). It is amazing on corn bread or on hot biscuits. Well, you get the idea. After I finish this post, I am on my way to the farmer's market to find some more tomatoes so I can make more jam.

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