My friend, Sandy, just gave me the most wonderful jar of spicy tomato jam — which was amazing — and it reminded me as the farmers market season begins to wind down, there are things we can do to keep that fresh taste going strong.
If you’ve never made a tomato jam, now is the time! I use heirloom tomatoes for this recipe as they’re meaty, bursting with flavor and are just waiting for you to bring out their summer fabulousness. The color spectrum of these yellow, orange and red tomatoes also makes a beautiful presentation.
This jam is a perfect addition to any charcuterie platter, a classic marinade, or barbecue sauce. Tomato jam is a specialty food item that’s available in gourmet shops, via high-end mail order specialty culinary companies and can cost a pretty penny ... so make your own!
1 cup cider vinegar
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup bourbon
3 pounds ripe heirloom tomatoes
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
8 whole allspice berries
8 whole cloves
1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
In a large bowl, combine vinegar, sugar, and bourbon. Stir to dissolve sugar. Set aside.
In a five-quart nonreactive saucepan, bring three quarts of water to boil over high heat. Carefully drop tomatoes into boiling water and cook until skins of tomatoes start to split — 1-2 minutes. With slotted spoon, remove tomatoes and plunge into ice water. Let tomatoes cool to the touch. Peel off tomato skins and discard. Coarsely chop tomatoes; set aside.
Meanwhile, in the center of a small square of cheesecloth, combine peppercorns, allspice berries, cloves, red pepper flakes, and mustard seeds. Using a piece of kitchen string, tie cheesecloth to make a spice bag.
In a five-quart saucepan, combine tomatoes, vinegar mixture, the spice bag, and cumin. Bring mixture to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and cook 35-40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat and let cool for 20 minutes.
Discard spice bag and divide tomato jam among gift jars or transfer to a container with tight-fitting lid. Refrigerate until ready to use. The tomato jam will keep for one month, refrigerated.
This jam also freezes well and is perfect for traditional canning methods.
Working on a red wine jelly ... recipe to follow once it’s perfected (much taste testing is required for this one — LOL).
Cynthia Ferris-Bennett, a Nevada native and owner of the Sierra Chef Culinary Center in Gardnerville, manages the Sierra Chef Farmers Market at Lampe Park and is the event manager for East Fork Ranch. SIERRA CHEF: Expressing the Language of LIFE Through Food, Home and Garden, www.SierraChef.com.