Friday, August 16, 2013

Tomato 'Relish' and Tomato Jam

I had a bit of a disaster yesterday. I tried to make tomato jam, but no one ever told me that if you don't put massive amounts of sugar in with your fruit, the regular pectin doesn't work right. I have read tons of recipes where I thought to myself, "that's a freakin' lot of sugar," but I never knew the reason for it. I guess I should say "skimmed", I skimmed tons of recipes. I mean, sure, the pectin directions stated the sugar to fruit ratio facts very clearly, but by God who would have thought you would need to read a giant double-sided fold-out insert just to use a pouch of pectin?

So here's my recipe for, uhm, chunky sweet and sour ketchup salsa relish...stuff. It's not gross, I swear. In fact with some chicken stock and a splash of cream it would make a good tomato soup. I spooned some of it over an Italian sausage in a bun for dinner tonight and it was pretty damn good, so it would probably work as barbeque sauce too.


5 pounds of fresh ripe tomatoes, at least half should be paste tomatoes like Roma or San Marzano. Mix it up with different varieties though, it will look cool.
1 large sweet onion
1 tablespoon fresh oregano
1 tablespoon fresh thyme 
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
 2 cups brown sugar
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pouch of Certo pectin. But regular doesn't work here, so buy a low sugar kind instead if you want this to be jam instead of sauce/relish.

Chop up all of the fresh ingredients in a food processor, but not too much- leave it chunky. Put that chunky mess in a pot with the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Turn it down a bit and cook for thirty minutes then add pectin. Turn the heat back up and boil one more minute, then pour in sterile jars. 

I think instead of screwing it up like I just did, you really could make tomato jam by adding 2 more cups of white sugar and cooking it down a little longer before adding the pectin. Then you could actually spread it on crackers and cheese like I originally planned. When I get more ripe tomatoes I'll try it and let you know how it works out. I actually tried to save mine after it was too late by adding an extra cup of white sugar, but one more wasn't enough, I think you would need four cups of sugar total for jam. 

Or just get the Pomona stuff that works with low-sugar recipes, which, now that I know about, I will purchase ASAP.

Update, Day 2: Successful tomato jam has happened, and I tried a simpler flavor approach too. I'm going to make a bacon, cheese and tomato jam sandwich for lunch, yay me.

3 pounds tomatoes, roughly chopped
3 cups white sugar
1/8 cup apple cider viegar
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 rounded teaspoon dried savory
Pomona Universal Pectin

I simmered the ingredients about 20 minutes, then added 3 tsp. calcium water, turned the heat up and added 4 teaspoons pectin mixed with 1/8 cup sugar, and stirred while it boiled for about one minute, then filled the jars. (Both the calcium and pectin come in the box together.) 

I found a few good jam recipes online, but none that looked just right. In my search I found some great blogs, but also some of the cheesiest food blogs that made me cringe. I don't mean like, "a blog about cheese," I mean like cheesy. I read one where in order to find the recipe from the title I had to slog through paragraphs of the author raving on and on about his upcoming honeymoon overseas (gag me) and another where the author went on and on about her adorable little boy who just loves his vegetables (double gag me). If I ever sound that insipid (and way off topic,) for chrissake someone just break my laptop and put me out of my misery. 

So I promise, if the title implies that a recipe is forthcoming, I will give you the goods up front and put my off-topic ramblings at the end. Like this.