Friday, October 29, 2010

Rainbow Cherry Tomato Marmalade

So I was going to start out with a meditation on the end of the gardener's year and the melancholy for a surplus of tomatoes that won't ripen and my noble and bucolic attempts to use all the fruits of my garden.

Yeah. Let's just state right off that making jam is a tricky flippin' business. This is perhaps my second or third full-blown attempt at making preserves, and although the end product tastes great, the journey to get there is a bit more like something out of Don Quixote. I don't know if every novice makes the same mistakes that I keep making, over and over again, but here's a short list of what I think goes wrong:

1. I wasn't using a wide and somewhat shallow pot.

2. Boiling at too low a temperature.

3. Not stirring enough toward the end.

As anyone who has been reading this blog from the start will already know– I've got too many damn cherry tomatoes. The colors range from green to light red, but everything is unripe and hard. What to do? I had pickles in mind (and even made an unsuccessful batch) but I bumped into Ana Sortun one afternoon and she advised making green tomato jam. I didn't take very good mental notes of everything she told me, so I cobbled this together from a few things online. I wound up boiling this for so long (and too long) that in the end it's closer to a marmalade than a jam. It's tasty as hell though, and it looks pretty.

Rainbow Cherry Tomato Marmalade

3 lbs unripe cherry tomatoes, halved
5 1/2 cups sugar
2 large lemons, juice and zest
2 inch piece of ginger, microplaned
handful of basil
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
2 cinnamon sticks

Combine the halved tomatoes and sugar in a large non-reactive bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight to allow the tomatoes to macerate.

Pour the tomatoes, liquid and undissolved sugar into your cooking pan. Add the lemon juice, zest and cinnamon sticks. Wrap the basil leaves and coriander seeds in cheesecloth or a tea sachet and add to the pot.

Bring to a boil and cook for 45 minutes to an hour, depending on how quickly the water evaporates. Once the bubbles begin to slow and the jam begins to thicken and get glossy, periodically check small portions of jam on a chilled plate or spoon (I keep several in the freezer). Once a cooled test begins to thicken and set after a minute in the freezer, put the jam into sterilized jars and seal.


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