Recipe Review: Tomato Jam

Last week I was paging through my recipe notebook looking for possible dishes to make for a friend’s party and I came across a recipe that Jeff printed from the internet for Tomato Jam.  Because we have sooooooo many tomatoes in our garden right now, the recipe really caught my attention.  I set it aside to revisit, but somehow it ended up back in the recipe notebook when I put it away.

But, the recipe gods were not about to let me forget. Last Saturday morning, after taking a long walk, Jeff and I harvested about 30 pounds of tomatoes and various other veggies from our garden.  When we brought our haul into the kitchen, Jeff said, “You know, I printed a recipe for Tomato Jam that we should make.”  I giggled and knew it was meant to be!

I got the recipe back out of the notebook and decided to make a triple batch.  I would have made even more, but I was low on sugar so I made as much as I could with the sugar I had.

I carefully washed 4 1/2 pounds of Roma tomatoes and cut them into a large dice.  I added the sugar, lime zest, various spices, diced Hungarian peppers (the recipe called for jalapeno peppers, but I didn’t have any so I subbed from the garden) and set it on the stove to cook.  The recipe called for a cooking time of approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes; however mine took significantly longer – perhaps because I tripled the recipe or perhaps the fresh-off-the-vine tomatoes were juicier than the tomatoes used by the recipe author.  But it didn’t matter, I was working in the kitchen anyway, so I kept stirring and testing the jam on a plate to make sure it was the right consistency.

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There are different ways people test the consistency or setting point, but I learned the saucer or plate methods so that is what I used.  Some ways to test include:

  • The Saucer or Plate Method:  Spoon a small amount of jam onto a plate and let it cool – if it is ready, it will wrinkle and feel firm.  When you run your finger through the jam (be careful that it is cool), the track from your finger will stay.
  • The Spoon Method: Stir the jam with a wooden spoon, turn the spoon over so the “wrong side” is face up, allow the jam to cool slightly, and run your finger through the jam.  The track from your finger should stay and when you hold the spoon sideways with warm jam the jam will form a thick drop.
  • The Thermometer Method: Test the jam with a sugar thermometer.  When the temperature reaches 220 degrees F it has hit its setting point.

The recipe did not call for skinning and seeding the tomatoes so I didn’t; however once it reached the right consistency I wasn’t happy that the skins were in the jam so I pulled out the food mill.  I processed the jam through the mill, which was a big improvement; however, the jam seemed to get thin when I processed it so I put it back on the stove for a few minutes to thicken.

Reduced Jammm mmm mmm

OhMyGoodness!  The jam is incredible.  The first thing Jeff and I did with it was to put it on a pizza we were constructing for dinner.  We spread it on the freshly stretched dough, topped it with some shredded cheddar cheese, added oven-roasted tomatoes and some sharp provolone.  Finally we sprinkled on some fresh basil and slid it onto the pizza stone.  We pulled it off the stone when the cheese was bubbly and just beginning to turn golden brown.  Again, OhMyGoodness!  The pizza was terrific, due in part to the tomato jam.

Hot Out of the Oven

The next morning, Jeff made breakfast before church.  He sliced and toasted a parmesan pepper baguette, spread the crostini with tomato jam and topped them with scrambled eggs. Mmm mmm mmm!  Jeff proclaimed that not only was the jam great on a pizza and eggs, it also was great right off a spoon.

I will play with the recipe the next time I make it.  I want to try making it slightly less sweet, but I don’t think I’ll mess with the spices – the combination is divine!

Overall, I’d give the recipe 4 M’s out of 5…

The recipe could have been more specific for a first-timer about how to test to make sure the jam had reached its setting point and I think it should have addressed removing the skins from the tomatoes.  But overall – with a few tweaks – the end result is fantastic. Had the resulting jam not been so good, I would have only given the recipe 3 M’s out of 5.   I’d highly recommend giving this recipe a try – particularly if you find yourself with 30 pounds of tomatoes!!!

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Check out the addendum to this post!

Tomato Jam

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2lb good ripe tomatoes ((Romas are best) cored and coarsely chopped)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice ((mmm mmm mmm added lime zest as well))
  • 1 tablespoon freshley grated or minced ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 jalepeno or other pepper (seeded and minced or red pepper flakes or cayenne to taste)

Note

Recipe by Mark Bittman, The Minimalist / New York Times

Yields 1 pint.

Directions

1. Combine all ingredients in a heavy medium saucepan.
2. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often.
3. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until mixture has consistency of thick jam, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
4. Taste and adjust seasoning, then cool and refrigerate until ready to use. Will keep in fridge at least a week.

No Such Thing As A Little Lie!

As I was pickling some cherry tomatoes early this morning, I got to thinking about the Bible study I began last night with a group of women from my church.  The study is entitled ‘Me, Myself & Lies’ and was written by an inspiringly talented and brave woman named Jennifer Rothschild. There are four women from our church co-leading the study… two of these women I know and have an incredible amount of respect and love for. Two I am looking forward to getting to know better, along with the other members of the group, over the next 13 weeks.

I will do my best to briefly explain the concept here, but please understand these ideas are Jennifer Rothschild’s, not mine – although I suspect and hope that by the end of this study I will have begun to believe her message instead of the lies!

Click here to listen to a little ditty about lies by Dave Barnes.

The focus of the study is the lies we tell ourselves that wound us.  We may have made these lies up ourselves or we may have heard them from others (including Satan or sadly even from people we love) and believed they were true so we started telling them to ourselves.  If you are a woman reading this, you already know what I mean even if you’re not willing to admit it.  [You may know what I mean if you are a man, but I’ve never been a man so I don’t really know for sure].

These lies are things like, “Why did you even try that? You knew you were going to fail.” Or “Don’t bother looking for a bathing suit this season; you’re too fat to look good in one.” Or “You’re not smart enough for that job so don’t even bother applying.” And on and on it goes – where it stops, nobody knows.  And we tell ourselves these things often enough that we start to believe them – I mean really believe them in our souls – and they begin to affect our behavior and even the course of our lives.

Anyway, why am I writing about this on a food blog?  Because I realized this morning over the hot steam of the pickling liquid that perhaps the reason I love cooking and entertaining so much is because I don’t tell myself those destructive lies when I am cooking and entertaining.  I know I am good at these two things.  Please don’t misunderstand me – I am not in any way trying to sound prideful or conceited.  However, I have so much “cooking DNA” in me from generations of amazing cooks and I feel such passion for it that I don’t even question whether I can do it.  If only I could transfer this confidence to other areas of my life and to other areas of yours!

As I looked around the circle of women last night and as I listened to their brief introductions (and mine), I had nothing but compassion for each person in that room. I was uplifted by the notion that I will link arms with these women for a season to bolster one another and to extinguish the lies.

You see, in our culture women can be vicious to other women.  I don’t use the term ‘vicious’ lightly.  I’m not sure where we learn it or when, but somewhere along the line mainstream culture teaches us that it’s ok to say things (even if it’s only in our own heads) like, “Why in the word would she wear that? Doesn’t she own a mirror?” or “If I were in her shoes I’d just leave him” or “If she just disciplined those kids they wouldn’t act like that.”  No wonder we tell ourselves lies!  We say them about others and others say them about us and in our heads the boundaries between truth and lie, acceptable and unacceptable become blurred.

This morning, I am grateful to have a passion into which I can escape.  A place where the lies STOP!  A place where I feel confident and competent.  I encourage you, if you don’t have one, to try so many things that you find that place where you can silence the lies.

And I challenge you to learn to identify the lies you tell yourself so that you change the messages you send in your own head.  And even more, I challenge you to identify those negative things you’re saying (even if only in your head) about others and change them into positive things.  We women have enough challenges in this world (don’t worry men, I’m not about to have a Betty Friedan moment) that we don’t need to put up roadblocks for ourselves and others.  So put your arms around the next woman you see – tell her she’s wonderful and beautiful and that the lies are just that – lies.  Or even better – find a reason to cook for her, eat with her or entertain to serve her!

Click here to learn more about Jennifer Rothschild.