Sunday, August 24, 2008

So Many Tomatoes, So Little Time

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         It’s tomato time again. Not only does August bring an abundance of tomatoes in number, it brings an abundance in kind. Big beefsteak types, medium all-purpose varieties, cherry, grape, and pear-shaped little ones, yellow and orange and pink tomatoes, and adorably deformed heirlooms. We’re all pleased as punch, aren’t we?
But, admit it, a little frustrated, too. Tomatoes don’t keep—the real ones, anyway—and there are only so many you can eat. Even when you are eating them, happily, every day for two meals and maybe a snack. I don’t even grow my own, so I can only imagine what you home vegetable gardeners are facing. But I still have too many, because I feel compelled to buy them while they are here. I go tomato-less all winter and spring except in the forms in which I can preserve them.
So preserve I must. But when? I’m stretched thin as fine strudel dough right now. No spiced tomato soup making for me this year (fortunately, I have two quarts left). Gazpacho, yes—blessedly simple and a favorite. My prize tomato chutney, not likely (although this is one thing I might pull an all-nighter for). Sun-dried tomatoes, candied tomatoes? Not a chance this year. Jam: yes.
Tomatoes yellowTomato jam is such an old fashioned thing that, at least in this country, you almost never see it sold. But it shares, with sour cherry preserves, a place of honor on my English muffin. It is a perfect item for my general approach to preserving—which includes making a small batch. You with a garden may make more. Me, I just made a few jars.

I used a mixture of Bradley tomatoes, a delicious pink tomato new to me this year, and a beefsteak-type tomato the name of which I can’t remember. Use any you have on hand. Makes about 2 half-pint jars.
2 lb, generous, tomatoes (see Note)
½ small lemon, seeded and sliced paper-thin
¾ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
large pinch of salt
½ tea pure vanilla extract
1 tea butter
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         Put the tomatoes, the sugars, and the lemon into a 3-qt, preferably slope-sided pan. Cover and bring to a boil; reduce the heat to medium and cook at a bubble, still covered, for about 10 minutes to soften the tomatoes. Remove the lid, and cook for about 45 minutes, or until it is thick and the skins have pretty much fallen off (see Note below), chopping at the tomatoes with a wooden spoon from time to time; adjust your heat if needed to keep it bubbling but not boiling hard. Add the vanilla and pinch of salt, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook about 10-15 minutes more. Stir in the butter. Ladle into clean jars and seal; store in the refrigerator or freeze.
NOTE: You can skin the tomatoes or not. To skin, bring a pot of water to a boil, lower the tomatoes in for about a minute, then drain; the skins should have split and will remove easily with a sharp knife. If you leave the skins on, they will come off during OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         cooking and curl up into little sheaves. You can pick them out with a fork after 45 minutes of cooking, or you can just leave them in. You could also strain your jam; I’d do this with a larger batch.


Anonymous said...

Am just about to try your recipe but can't find where the teaspoon of butter comes in the instructions.

Jane said...

Thank you for noticing this; I've just corrected it to say to add the butter at the end.

aloneytx from Houston said...

Excellent! I added a little lemon tyme I had in the garden. Very easy to follow recipe that can easily be modified. I made a very small batch using a pint or less of cherry tomatoes. Thank you for sharing.

aloneytx from Houston said...

Excellent! Very easy to follow recipe that can be easily modified. Made a very small batch using a pint or less of cherry tomatoes. I did add a little lemon tyme from my garden. Thanks for sharing.

Jane said...

Glad you are in the small batch club and that you liked this. I'm sure the thyme was a nice addition!