November 21, 2010

Tomato Jam

In September, I wrote a 'Garden to Table' column for Seattle Tilth's 'Way to Grow' magazine. Here is a reproduction with a little twist in the end. This change makes it a delightful accompaniment to roast turkey in a Thanksgiving feast.

Harvest season is a nostalgic time for me. I still remember my childhood days in Delhi (India), planting, nurturing and harvesting all sorts of edibles in our garden, along with my mom. I used to then, help her in the kitchen, with cooking and preserving the garden produce - whether it be spicy, mouth-watering lemon pickles or the sweet and tangy mango chutneys. My favorite of all, was the tomato jam - simple yet old-fashioned. For a traditionalist, it tastes great on any bread, for a child licking a spoonful is more fun. Decades later and thousands of miles away, I feel a strong desire to make it again and create a similar memory for my kids.

This is an easy recipe; one can use any kind of tomatoes. I have used ‘orange’ tomatoes here; I find the taste of the heirloom varieties amazingly better. The cloves add a warmth to it while the lime juice helps balance the acidity and the sweetness.

2 lbs plump, fleshy, ripe tomatoes
2 cups granulated sugar
4 whole cloves
juice of ½ lime

Blanch the tomatoes, peel the skin and chop them into small pieces. Combine these pieces (along with any juice) with sugar and cloves in a saucepan. Bring it to a boil over high heat. Reduce flame and let it simmer over medium to low heat, stir occasionally.

After about half an hour, put a blob of jam on a plate and tilt it. If the jam trickles down, it has not reached the jammy consistency. As the jam thickens, add a few drops of lime juice as per taste.

Once ready, let it cool down. Transfer to a sterilized jar. It keeps well in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks. Can the jars in a water bath for longer storage.

A little twist: add 4-5 tsp red chilli flakes along with sugar and cook as above. Take off the fire before it reaches the jammy consistency to create a sweet and spicy sauce/chutney.

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