I’ve been reading a few posts here and there over the past several months about tomato jam. Now, I don’t know if it was just my family, but being from the Texas Panhandle I’ve heard of strawberry jam, apricot jam, blackberry jam, and even toe jam. I’ve been in traffic jams and jammed up. But never had I heard of tomato jam until this, the 54th year of my life.
How could I have lived so long without this amazing condiment?
Tomatoes are a staple in our diet. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of great tomatoes to be had at the store. Getting them locally at your farmers’ markets is usually a better option. Something about a sweet, tangy, ripe, red tomato that just says “home” and “comfort” for me.
My mom loved to have a few tomato plants every year growing up. We had to raise them in flower beds with some good soil because the natural soil in our area was nothing but caliche – in other words, no nutrients and certainly no acid. Rich, dark, acid soil is necessary if you want to get that tangy, fresh tomato taste. Hydroponic tomatoes are similar in taste to those grown in alkali soil. Ugh.
I’m really spoiled to sweet, red, tangy tomatoes. You see, my dad was raised in East Tennessee, in the foothills of the Great Smokey Mountains.
Grainer County, Tennessee, is just north of my grandparent’s home place and is the Tomato Capital of Tennessee. In fact, there is a Grainger County Tomato Festival every July! And I can taste why. If you’ve never had a tomato grown in rich, dark, acid soil – well, then you’ve never tasted the flavor of a real tomato! When we would go to my grandparents’ home in the summer a couple of big, red, ripe tomatoes were the center of the meal, surrounded by fresh corn, fried okra and cornbread. Slap me, but that’s about as good as it gets! It only takes one of these babies to ruin you for the rest of your natural life.
Last week, I went to our local farmer’s market and there was box after box of Tennessee Tomatoes! From Newport, Tennessee! Newport is only about 20 miles from the old home place. I was under no illusion that these Tennessee Tomatoes sitting in all these boxes in Grapevine, Texas, would be vine-ripened and as good as my grandma’s. However, I hoped that they would at least have some flavor and be a bit tangy, and they were! Not great, but good. Works for me!
I made a deal with the vendor for a box – which was about 25 pounds – for $30. I was good with that.
A couple of weeks ago, my friend Winnie over at Healthy Green Kitchen posted a recipe for Tomato Ginger Jam. I had heard the aroma was amazing, and she told me the very same. I was pretty sure I knew what several of those tomatoes were going to make!
I have to say the smell in the kitchen while this stuff cooked was enough to make you want to dab a little on your wrists and behind your ears. Mostly I just kept spooning a little into my mouth for frequent taste tests . . .
Although Winnie’s Tomato Jam already had cumin and ancho chile powder in it, I had 4 4/9th bushels of Hatch Green Chile in the freezer just screaming to get out. So, I did what I do – I decided to make Southwestern Tomato Jam so I could include my favorite green veggie!
Here’s how that works.
Southwestern Tomato Jam
3 lbs fresh tomatoes (About 4 really large beefsteaks)
1 cup fresh roasted Hatch Green Chile
3/4 cup organic brown sugar
1/4 cup Trader Joe’s Desert Mesquite Honey
1/4 cup organic apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp sea salt
Dice the tomatoes and green chile and place in large saucepan. Add the remainder of ingredients to the tomatoes and green chile.
Bring mixture to a boil, then medium simmer for 2 hours. Be sure and stir frequently to ensure that it does not start to scorch on the bottom of the pan. The brown sugar will lend itself to burning if you aren’t careful. (Don’t ask me how I know this. I did catch mine in time to save the batch!) After a couple of hours, use a stick blender or hand blender if you don’t have a stick and swirl around the pan until the mixture has an even consistency.
Simmer for another hour or so until most of the liquid has cooked off. Remove from heat and let cool.
This will make about a pint of delicious, addictive Southwestern Tomato Jam!! Store in the refrigerator where it should keep several weeks. Well, around me it will last several days, but that’s different.
The green chile changes the flavor ever so slightly and adds just a little “sweet heat” to the jam.
By the way, if you have never had any tomato jam and don’t know what to eat it on/with/in, try these:
* Like jam on toast in the morning
* Spread on top of your morning eggs
* As a condiment on your breakfast sandwich or breakfast burrito
* As a layer in a vegetable casserole
* An alternative to tomato paste in meatloaf or hamburger patties
* Grill a steak with a little salt, pepper and rosemary and top with tomato jam. YUM!
* With spicy potato sausage stuffed buttery empanadas
* Married to goat cheese in a fried egg sandwich
* Glazed on pork ribs
* Slipped into a blt sandwich
* As a dressing ingredient for a fresh vinaigrette to go with a green salad
I think it would also make an excellent glaze for a ham! That would make a great Labor Day main course!
I’m totally addicted to this jam! Every morning on my toast I have some Southwestern Tomato Jam. If you haven’t had it, don’t knock it! The flavor will amaze you!
When you try this recipe, write back and let me know what you have eaten with my Southwestern Tomato Jam. I always look forward to hearing from you!
“Home grown tomatoes, home grown tomatoes
What would life be like without homegrown tomatoes
Only two things that money can’t buy
That’s true love and home grown tomatoes.”
John Denver, ‘Home Grown Tomatoes’
(from a song written by Guy Clark)
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Thru The Bugs On My Windshield by V. Suzanne Collier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at www.txcolliers.smugmug.com/Lifes-Highway.