Wow. Hey there, end of summer.
You snuck up on me, as you usually do. But this time I feel like I really haven’t been expecting you at all. By this time in years’ past I have already thought about you once or twice, usually around my birthday. I have perhaps even dwelled upon you, sadly, as I acknowledge the days already getting a smidgen shorter, & the cicadas song plays the finale. But this year? You got me good. Suddenly, it’s the unofficial end of summer: Labor Day.
I feel like I haven’t made a whole lot of things I wanted to this summer. Having a blog makes you a bit crazy, see. I wanted to make all these awesome things over the summer & then blog about them. I wanted to take some tomato canning classes at The Brooklyn Kitchen. I had big plans for recipes- Miemo’s mama’s eggrolls, paella. Things like that. Things that were new to me (kitchen-wise), things that I never made before. I did make one-pan pasta & homemade butter, though, both of which are things I’d never done. But the other, more complicated things? Nope. I got caught up in the enjoyment of summer… the corn on the cob, the cookouts, the lazy sticky days & humid starry nights roasting marshmallows, drinking frozen alcoholic drinks, the soaking in of the sun, eating fresh fish after a day at the beach, the making of pickles & jams, the cutting of herbs, the inhaling of said herbs (frequently heard around here: “OH MY GOD that fresh basil/cilantro/oregano/rosemary smells AMAZING!”). Then I was tricked by the unseasonably cool weather (not a day over 90 degrees in August) & I was lulled into having the windows open with cool air blowing in. But I still forgot all about the end of summer. Basically, I got distracted living life.
There are worse things.
Stepping away from the internet is a good thing. Anyway… I got distracted & forgot that summer was about to end. Summer is weird that way; it starts to end the minute it begins and before you know it you’re catching up, trying to squeeze in the last bits of it any way you can. Now, suddenly, it’s tomato time.
And true to form, I haven’t done much posting about tomatoes… or jam for that matter. Mainly because I’ve been just making jam, not blogging about it (silly me!). So I thought I’d make one that’s a bit different for me, yet one that I’ve been begged to make since I got my first canning starter kit: Tomato jam! But because I only had a limited quantity of fresh tomatoes at the time, it had to be a very, very small batch. You know how it goes. You get a beautiful batch of tomatoes & immediately they’re eaten on burgers & sandwiches & plain with a little salt & pepper… then before you know it, you’re left with a few small tomatoes that escaped everyone’s clutches, & a bunch of beautiful little grape tomatoes. They stretch farther because they’re eaten like popcorn, one at a time, so I always end up with more of those left than any other tomato.
Why not make them into a tomato jam? They’re tomatoes too. They should be treated equally!
The recipe was created using full-size tomatoes. I found that the grape tomatoes worked just fine, particularly in this extra small batch. That said: this recipe can indeed be doubled, tripled, quadrupled… etc, etc.
I know, I know, it ain’t pretty… but she tastes better than she looks!
CRAZY SMALL-BATCH TOMATO JAM (adapted from Food in Jars)
Recipe can be doubled, tripled, etc. as long as you have a pot big enough!
- 1 pound tomatoes (I used grape tomatoes), finely chopped
- 1/2 cup + 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon + 1 3/4 teaspoons lime juice
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- pinch of ground black pepper
- Combine all ingredients in a large, non-reactive pot. Bring to a boil and then reduce temperature to a simmer.
- Stirring regularly, simmer the jam until it reduces to a sticky, jammy mess. This will take between 1 and 1 1/2 hours, depending on how high you keep your heat.
- When the jam has cooked down sufficiently, remove from heat and fill jars, leaving 1/4 inch of head space. Wipe rims, apply lids and twist on rings. Process in a boiling water canner for 20 minutes.
- When time is up, remove jars from water bath and allow them to cool. When jars are cool enough to handle, test seals. Store jars in a cool, dark place for up to one year.
A dressed-up jar always makes people want to open it faster!
Depending on the size & variety of your tomatoes, you’ll get a different amount of jam. It will 100% vary from person to person, tomato to tomato. I will say this recipe above gave me 1 half-pint & just enough to fill a 4-ounce jar. Each tomato type will not only give you a different flavor but a different yield. My suggestion? Sanitize way more jars than you think you’ll need. That way no matter what happens you’re covered. If you think you’ll need 5, sanitize 8, etc. And make sure you have a variety of sizes to accommodate any small amounts you might end up with after your 8-oz. or 16-oz. jars have been filled (this is why I always have 4-ounce jars on hand!). It also does not have to be processed. If you choose to make it & not process it, it must be put into a CLEAN, warm jar & refrigerated for immediate use. It probably won’t last as long, either, so keep an eye on it.
As Marisa says: “Try it with a soft, stinky cheese. It will change your life.”
You can also use it instead of ketchup on certain sandwiches, or burgers. Spread it on slices of toasted Italian bread with some feta cheese or goat cheese for a unique spin on bruschetta. Have it on some spent-grain bread as an afternoon snack. Eat it right out of the jar. Whatever. It’s pretty versatile.
On that note… see you in September.