Tomato Jam

September 22, 2014 at 7:15 pm | Posted in condiments, jams & preserves, savory things | 9 Comments
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tomato jam

This beautiful time of year is when I want to bottle up everything fresh and hoard it for drearier times.  I’ve just made concord grape jam and now I’m adding tomato jam to my little fridge stash.

Tomato jam might sound a tad strange, but this isn’t a clear jelly…it’s more of a cross between tomato sauce and ketchup.  I’m sure you could eat it straight up on toast although I use it like a condiment.  I first came across this when we lived in Sydney and I’d get the most delicious egg sandwiches with tomato jam at the Pyrmont Growers’ Market.  I miss Sydney a lot…we’ve been back for several years now, but I still think about it all the time.  I like that I can recreate bits and pieces of our time there, and now every September, when I have more fresh tomatoes than we can possibly eat, I made a batch of tomato jam.

I’ve spiced my tomato jam up the way I like it best, with cumin and coriander, but you can adjust or change the seasonings to your own taste.  It isn’t just awesome on fried egg sandwiches, but also on burgers, sausages (and sausage rolls!), potatoes and savory pies.

tomato jam

Tomato Jam– makes about a pint
inspired by Citrus and Candy

Steph’s Notes:  This is a pretty small batch of jam– small enough that I just store it in the fridge and use it up over the course of a few weeks.  I do recommend using a sterilized jar and lid though.

1 1/4 lb ripe tomatoes
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped (red, white or yellow)
1/2 tsp salt
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
dash of cayenne pepper or hot pepper flakes
dash of ground black pepper
1 tbsp tomato paste

1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp brown sugar

-Begin by peeling the tomatoes: Bring a pot of water to the boil. With a sharp paring knife, score a small cross on the bottom of each tomato. Blanch the tomatoes for a minute in the boiling water or until the skin just starts peeling. Drain and then peel the skin off the tomatoes. Remove the cores and roughly chop into chunks (I think the seeds are fine).

-Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan (I used a 2-quart saucepan), then sauté onions with the salt for about 10 minutes or until the onions have softened and are lightly caramelized (golden but not brown).  Add the garlic and spices and continue to sauté for a minute until fragrant.  Add the tomato paste and cook for another minute.

-Deglaze with the balsamic vinegar, scraping any bits off the bottom of the pan, then add the sugar and chopped tomatoes. Bring to a boil and gently simmer for about 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally until it’s thick and darkened.  (You can add a splash of water if it looks too dry.)

-Taste the jam (carefully, as obviously it will be quite hot) and add extra salt, hot pepper or vinegar if it needs an adjustment.

-Store the jam in a sterilized jar and keep it in the fridge for up to a few weeks.

Gooseberry Jam

July 23, 2013 at 4:01 pm | Posted in breakfast things, jams & preserves, sweet things | 7 Comments
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gooseberry jam

In honour of the Royal Baby, I’ve whipped up something that I think of as very British– gooseberry jam.  Gooseberries are high in pectin, so they’re ideal for jamming.  Also, when my CSA gave them to me last weekend, I really couldn’t think of anything else to do with them.

I had just two half-pints of gooseberries, so I weighed what I had and scaled down the recipe below accordingly.  Even though I had a mix of red and green berries, the jam took on a brilliant rosy color as it bubbled away.  My little batch cooked quickly, and gave me a pint of jam plus a smidge extra (that’s what’s left in the pot).  A raw gooseberry packs a tart punch, but this jam has a great sweet-tart balance and just a hint of vanilla.  Maybe I’ll fold it into whipped cream for a fool or a trifle.  That is, if we don’t eat it all on our morning crumpets.

Did you know that “gooseberry” is British slang for what we call “third wheel”?  Interesting.

Gooseberry Jam– makes about four 1/2-pint jars
adapted from The Preservation Kitchen by Paul Virant

Steph’s Notes:  This is a pretty small batch of jam– small enough that I personally would just store the jars in the fridge and not bother to water bath process them.  You can certainly process them to extend shelf life, though, if you choose.  New boxes of Ball jars come with instructions on how to do this, or you can find great tutorials online (like this one).

If you have trouble telling if your jam is done, you can pop a small plate into the freezer to chill.  Spoon a teaspoon of the  fruit mixture onto the cold plate and allow to set for 30 seconds. Tip the plate 45 degrees to one side; jam should be a soft gel that moves slightly.  If mixture is liquid and runs quickly down the plate, return the jam to the heat and cook, stirring constantly, 2-5 minutes longer; then repeat the test.

907 g (about 6 cups) whole gooseberries, topped and tailed
282 g (about 1 2/3 cups) sugar
14 g (about 1 1/2 tablespoons) lemon juice
1 vanilla bean (seeds only)

-In a heavy-bottomed pot, combine the gooseberries, sugar and lemon juice.  Cover with the lid and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.  Remove the lid once the mixture is simmering and stir in the vanilla bean seeds.  Continue to cook over moderate heat, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, for about 15 minutes.  Skim off any scum that rises to the surface of the jam during the cooking process.

-You’ll notice some changes in the fruit mixture as it reaches gelling stage.  These changes are subtle, but as the jam starts to set, you’ll feel your spoon “drag” on the bottom of the pot when you stir, and the boiling bubbles will slow (similar to candy making).   Also, when you hold your spoon up, the liquid will run off the side of it in thick, heavy drops.  If you are uncertain, use the cold plate test described in the above notes.

-Spoon or funnel the jam into four clean 1/2-pint jars (even though I don’t water-bath process small batches of jam, I still like to carefully pour boiling water over the jars, lids, funnel and metal spoon before using them, or have them fresh from the dishwasher), leaving about 1/4 inch of space at the top.  Close the jars and let the jam cool to room temperature.  Store the jam in the refrigerator for several months.

Roasted Strawberries

June 25, 2013 at 5:19 pm | Posted in jams & preserves, other sweet, sweet things | 13 Comments
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roasted strawberries

I’m not too crazy about strawberries in baked goods.  Baked strawberries turn pale and sad.  Roasted strawberries, on the other hand, are vibrant and intense.  We’ve been roasting strawberries at work over the last couple weeks (it’s actually a great way to save berries that are on the verge, so to speak, or were never that great to begin with), and I thought I’d take the concept home with me.

This is a super easy process that you can multiply or fiddle with.  Strawberries and a sprinkle sugar are all that’s needed, but I added a dash of cassis to mine as well.  A fairly hot oven does its magic, and in about half an hour you have a tray of deep red, syrup coated jewels.

Stir these into your morning yogurt or use them as a topping for ice cream (buttermilk ice cream would be even more amazing topped with these, as would vanilla malted).  And mixed in with fresh strawberries in a shortcake–forget about it.

roasted strawberries

Roasted Strawberries

Steph’s Note:  This is more of a process than a recipe.  Adjust amounts depending on your quantity of berries.  Although I probably wouldn’t bother to fire up the oven on a hot day for less than a quart of strawberries, this will multiply no problem.   

a quart of strawberries (bigger ones halved or quartered, tiny ones left whole)
a couple spoons of sugar (white, raw or vanilla are all good)
 optional splash of flavoring (like vanilla, balsamic vinegar, cassis or Grand Marnier)

-Preheat your oven to 400°F.

-Put the strawberries on a sheet tray, or in a cake pan or a small metal roaster.  Use something where they fit in a single layer, but don’t have too much extra empty space where juices will just burn.  Sprinkle over the sugar…you only need enough to lightly coat them, as the sweetness will intensify as they roast.

-Roast for about 15 minutes, and then give the berries a gentle stir to coat them with the liquid they’ve released.  Continue to roast until the strawberries are deeply red and the juice is syrupy, almost beginning to caramelize.  This will probably take another 15-20 minutes.  Add in your splash of flavoring.  Done….you can store them in the fridge for a several days.

Peach Butter

August 31, 2012 at 8:00 am | Posted in breakfast things, jams & preserves, sweet things | 6 Comments
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peach butter

We’re at the point in the summer (the end of it, I mean), when I’m freaking out a little about the prospect of a winter full of rutabagas and turnips.  My reaction to this, apparently, is to stash little jars of summery things on the top shelf of my fridge.

I made this peach butter recipe last year, and then promptly ate up without a word to you about it.  So I just made it again.  It’s thicker and more intense than jam.  It’s not only what’s in it (peaches!) that makes it delicious, but also what’s not– no spices and not too much sugar.  I think it’s what crumpets were made for..

More summer stonefruit you should put in jars:  apricots, plums, nectarines (and plums, again).  Happy weekend!

Peach Butter– makes about four cups
from Smitten Kitchen

Steph’s Note:  This can be “properly” canned if you want to store it longer-term.  See the original recipe for tips on that process.

4 pounds (1.8 kilograms) peaches
1 cup (237 ml) water
2 cups (400 grams) granulated sugar
juice of one lemon

-If you are not using a food mill: Cut a small “x” in the bottom of each peach. Dip each into a pot of boiling water for 30 seconds, and then into a bowl of cold water for a minute. Slip off the peels.

-Cut your peaches in half and remove the pits, then cut each half into quarters (8 chunks from each peach). Place peach chunks and water in a large pot and bring to a boil. Simmer until peaches are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure they cook evenly. If you have a food mill, run them through it to puree them and remove the skins.  Use a disk with smaller holes if you want a smoother puree.  If you don’t have a food mill — i.e. you already peeled your peaches — you can puree in a food processor, blender or with an immersion blender.

-Return the peaches to the pot, add the sugar and lemon juice and bring the mixture to a good strong simmer/gentle boil, cooking them at this level for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally in the beginning and more often near the end, as it thickens up and the fruit masses risk scorching on the bottom of the pot.

-There are several methods to test for doneness: You can drizzle a ribbon of sauce across the surface; when that ribbon holds its shape before dissolve into the pot, it is done. Some people use cold or frozen plates; dollop a spoonful in the middle of one and if no water forms a ring around it in a couple of minutes, it is done. Others use a spoon; if the butter remains rounded on a spoon for two minutes, it is done. You can also check the pot itself; the butter is usually done when a wooden spoon leaves a clear train when scraped across the bottom.

-Spoon the peach butter into clean jars (you can sterilize the jars and lids first with boiling water, if you are so inclined), leaving about 1/4 inch of space at the top.  Close the jars and let the jam cool to room temperature.  Store the butter in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Concord Grape Jam

October 8, 2011 at 7:04 pm | Posted in breakfast things, jams & preserves, sweet things | 3 Comments
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concord grape jam

Is there a food that you were deprived of as a child and now, as mistress of your own grocery list, you can’t get enough of?  Well, I guess I really have a few of them, but one is certainly grape jam.  There was never a jar of Welch’s to be found in our kitchen cupboard growing up.  It was PB&J with raspberry usually standing in for the “J”…good, sure, but not that sweet, sticky intensely purple-black jam that I only had at friends’ houses (thank you Angie and Christy!).

For my now-slightly-less-childish-palate, the storebought stuff is actually too sweet for me.  Luckily it doesn’t take a whole lotta effort to make a few little jars of my own grape jam, with the sugar dialed down a few notches (or the grape dialed up).  And now is the time to do it…the concord grape season is short, but it is now and, for the time being, they are pretty easily found at the greenmarkets here in NYC.

I did a lot of research before making this jam, and the recipe is a hodgepodge of several I found, with the sugar adjusted to my taste.  You’ll get a homemade jam that is very grapey and plenty sweet, without making your cavities zing.  You do have to peel the grapes before you start, but with concords it’s a cinch…just give them a pinch.  The skins practically fall right off.

This recipe makes just a few half-pint jars of jam, so I don’t bother to can it.  If you keep it refrigerated, it should last a couple of months at least.  I will probably eat every last drop just like in the picture…spread with peanut butter over a slice of junky white bread.  With potato chips on top.  I was too embarrassed to show you that part.

Concord Grape Jam– makes about three 1/2-pint jars

Steph’s Notes:  I like the texture from the noticable bits of skin in my final jam.  If you’d rather have a smoother end product, purée the skins with the sugar, salt and lemon juice in the food processor before adding to the saucepan in step 3.

If you have trouble telling if your jam is done, you can pop a small plate into the freezer to chill.  Spoon 1/2 teaspoon fruit mixture onto the cold plate and allow to set for 30 seconds. Tip the plate 45 degrees to one side; jam should be a soft gel that moves slightly.  If mixture is liquid and runs quickly down the plate, return the jam to the heat and cook, stirring constantly, 2-5 minutes longer; then repeat the test.

2 1/4 lbs de-stemmed concord grapes, washed
9 oz sugar
1/8 t salt

1-2 T lemon juice

-Working over a large, nonreactive saucepan in which you will be making the jam (to catch juices), skin the grapes by gently squeezing each one between two fingers.  The skins will pop off easily.  Let all of the pulp and any juices fall into the saucepan.  Put the skins into a medium bowl, stir in the sugar, salt and lemon juice and set aside.

-Over medium heat, bring grape pulp to a simmer, cover and cook until soft, about 5-10 minutes. Push through fine strainer and discard seeds.

-Return the strained pulp (now more like juice at this point) to the saucepan and add in the sugar/skin mixture.

-Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.  Turn down the heat and cook over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until the liquid runs off the side of a spoon in thick, heavy drops, 20 to 30 minutes.  Skim off any scum that rises to the surface of the jam during the cooking process.

-Spoon the jam into three clean 1/2-pint jars (you can sterilize the jars and lids first with boiling water, if you are so inclined), leaving about 1/4 inch of space at the top.  Close the jars and let the jam cool to room temperature.  Store the jam in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.

Plum Jam

August 14, 2011 at 12:29 pm | Posted in jams & preserves, sweet things | 8 Comments
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plum jam

My CSA has very been generous with the stone fruits over the last few weeks.  I have those little green cardboard quart containers of apricots and plums cluttering my countertop.  I’m not complaining at all, but I did panick a little when two quarts of plums went from hard to squish over the course of one night.  Time to make jam, I guess!

I know that I showed you how to make an Easy Plum Jam a couple of summers ago, but, yeah, that was a couple of summers ago and I like to tinker around with new recipes.  Turns out this one’s easy, too.  It requires a bit more cooking time than the other recipe, but uses a bit less sugar proportionally…a give-and-take that I can easily accept.  It’s also what I’d call “small-batch preserving” and makes a few jars worth of jam that are stored in the refrigerator.  I find, especially in a smaller city kitchen, that this method is far more approachable than hot water processing for long-term storage.

This makes a brilliant jewel-toned jam with a soft set.  I happened to have a vanilla pod that I’d scraped out for another recipe, so I threw it in during cooking. The fruit skins turn into little sticky, candied bits that are my favorite part of a good plum jam.  I’m going out now to get some English muffins.

plum jam

Plum Jam– makes about three 1/2-pint jars
adapted from Food & Wine (September 2009)

Steph’s Notes:  You can also infuse your jam with background flavors during cooking time.  I added a scraped out vanilla pod to mine, but a whole cinnamon stick would also be great, as would a couple of smashed cardamom pods or a few black peppercorns (which I’d tie up in a cheescloth bundle for easier removal at the end).  Just be sure to fish out whatever whole spices you’ve added before jarring your jam!

If you have trouble telling if your jam is done, you can pop a small plate into the freezer to chill.  Spoon 1/2 teaspoon fruit mixture onto the cold plate and allow to set for 30 seconds. Tip the plate  45 degrees to one side; jam should be a soft gel that moves slightly.  If mixture is liquid and runs quickly down the plate, return the jam to the heat and cook, stirring constantly, 2-5 minutes longer; then repeat the test.

2 pounds small plums, washed, pitted and cut into 1/2-inch wedges
1 1/2 cups sugar
pinch of salt

1/2 lemon, seeded

-In a large, nonreactive saucepan, toss the plums with the sugar and pinch of salt and let stand, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is mostly dissolved (you can let this stand at room temperature from 1-3 hours).

-Squeeze the lemon over the plums, add it to the saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.  Cook over moderate heat, stirring, until the liquid runs off the side of a spoon in thick, heavy drops, 20 to 25 minutes.  Skim off any scum that rises to the surface of the jam during the cooking process.

-Discard the lemon and spoon the plum jam into three clean 1/2-pint jars (you can sterilize the jars and lids first with boiling water, if you are so inclined), leaving about 1/4 inch of space at the top.  Close the jars and let the jam cool to room temperature.  Store the jam in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.

Easy Nectarine and Easy Plum Jams

September 9, 2009 at 3:46 pm | Posted in jams & preserves, sweet things | 18 Comments

easy nectarine and plum jams

Before I really get into this, I want you to know that I do realize I’m basically recycling my Easy Apricot Jam post from back in July.  But we’re all for recycling, right?  Look– I even recycled these old jars…

In a lot of ways I’m ready for fall, but I want nothing to do with apples and pears quite yet…I’m still clinging for dear life onto the summer fruit and veg.  Just this morning I went to the Union Square Greenmarket to restock my supply of peaches, raspberries and tristar strawberries, afraid that maybe by next week they’ll have disappeared.  I find some consolation in the fact that, if I cook my fruit down with a little sugar and lemon juice, I can trap a piece of summer in a Mason jar and keep it for a few more weeks.

Easy Nectarine and Easy Plum Jams– makes 2 1/2 cups
adapted from Cooks Illustrated (July/August 1998)

Note:  To prep your stonefruit, wash (and peel the nectarines…for the plums, you can leave the skins on), halve and pit them.  Then slice them very thin.  You want to wind up with 1 pound of fruit after prepping.

The jam will continue to thicken as it cools, so err on the side of undercooking. Because of its reduced sugar amounts, this jam cannot be canned.

1 pound prepared fruit, about 3 cups
1 cup plus 2 T sugar for plum jam/1 ¼ cups sugar for nectarine jam
2 T juice from 1 lemon

- Set a bowl over a larger bowl of ice water; set aside.

- In 10- or 12-inch skillet, bring fruit, sugar, and lemon juice to boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly and skimming foam as necessary, until mixture begins to look syrupy and thickens slightly, about 5 minutes; remove from heat. Spoon 1/2 teaspoon fruit mixture into bowl over ice water; allow to set for 30 seconds. Tip bowl 45 degrees to one side; jam should be a soft gel that moves slightly. If mixture is liquid and runs to side of bowl, return skillet to heat and cook, stirring constantly, 1 to 2 minutes longer; then repeat test.  Save the ice bath to cool the finished product.

-Cool jam to room temperature (over the ice bath) before serving or transferring to a clean glass jar or airtight container (you can sterilize first with boiling water, if you are so inclined).  It will keep, covered and refrigerated, for up to two weeks (I’ve kept mine for up to a month…but that’s just me).

Easy Apricot Jam

July 8, 2009 at 8:57 pm | Posted in jams & preserves, sweet things | 34 Comments

easy apricot jam

First I pickled…now I jam.  I think I’m really just looking for excuses to use these cute little French jars.  Actually, a recent comment from fellow blogger Joy of Hot Oven, Warm Heart, coupled with finding the cutest little soft apricots at the store the other day, had my one-track mind thinking about pretty much nothing but homemade jam. 

The first time I made my own jam was probably about five years ago.  I belonged to a CSA, and in the summer months I was taking home bags full of peaches, nectarines and plums each week.  Now that’s no hardship, but it was too much for two of us to possibly consume in a week’s time, so I decided to take up canning my own jam.  I bought a canning kit, a big pot, a bunch of Ball jars and a couple of books and went to town.  My kitchen that summer was like Mr. Wizard’s lab, with bubbling pots, thermometers, sterilized tongs…it was a lot of work, and I was giving away jam to anyone who would take it.

Since that summer, I haven’t been lucky enough to have abundance of stone fruits fall into my lap, so now I’m preserving the easy way, with less sugar and smaller quantities of fruit that yield just enough jam to be eaten up over the course of a couple weeks.  The smaller amount of fruit is much easier to work with; it’s also much easier to judge when your jam has gelled.  No need for pectin (which I don’t like working with anyway) or water bath processing…just store the finished jam in the refrigerator and use within two weeks.  I think that little Ball/Mason jars or French canning jars with rubber seals are downright adorable, but you can recycle store-bought jam jars or just use an airtight container for this type of preserving as well.

easy apricot jam

If you want, you can also infuse your jam with background flavors during cooking time.  A whole cinnamon stick or half a vanilla bean would be great additions to apricot jam.  I actually threw a fresh bay leaf into mine while it cooked down.  Sounds a little weird, but I remember a pastry chef at an old job poaching whole apricots in a syrup infused with fresh bay.  You hardly know it’s there, but it gives a very subtle savory backnote that plays nicely with the sweetness.  If you do something like this, just fish out whatever whole spice you’ve added before storing your jam, or the flavor may get too intense while it sits.

Your homemade jam will be the most delicious thing to ever hit your toast, crumpets, crêpes, or (OMG) your PB&J!  I haven’t had any consistency problems with this method (because it’s easy to test and correct), but if you ever make jam– whether it’s the easy way or the water bath-processed method– and it sets up loose, don’t throw it out.  Runny jam becomes such a perfect fruit sauce for ice cream, yogurt, pound cake, etc, that you can pretend you meant it to be that way!

Easy Apricot Jam– makes 2 1/2 cups
adapted from Cooks Illustrated (July/August 1998)

Note:  To prep your apricots, wash, peel (this is optional…personally, I like the skins and leave them on), halve and pit them.  Then slice them very thin.  You want to wind up with 1 pound of fruit after prepping. 

The jam will continue to thicken as it cools, so err on the side of undercooking. Because of its reduced sugar amounts, this jam cannot be canned.

1 pound prepared fruit, about 3 cups
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons juice from 1 lemon

- Set a bowl over a larger bowl of ice water; set aside.

- In 10- or 12-inch skillet, bring fruit, sugar, and lemon juice to boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly and skimming foam as necessary, until mixture begins to look syrupy and thickens slightly, about 5 minutes; remove from heat. Spoon 1/2 teaspoon fruit mixture into bowl over ice water; allow to set for 30 seconds. Tip bowl 45 degrees to one side; jam should be a soft gel that moves slightly. If mixture is liquid and runs to side of bowl, return skillet to heat and cook, stirring constantly, 1 to 2 minutes longer; then repeat test.  Save the ice bath to cool the finished product.

-Cool jam to room temperature (over the ice bath) before serving or transferring to a clean glass jar or airtight container (you can sterilized first with boiling water, if you are so inclined).  It will keep, covered and refrigerated, for up to two weeks.

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