This isn’t something you’ll be able to make all the time, of course. In fact, in order to make the project worth your time and effort, it helps if you gradually stock up on the ingredients over, say, a year.
It really helps if you’ve got small children and your whole family gets massive head colds throughout the winter. Just, you know, save the bits and pieces in ziploc bags in the freezer so they’ll stay nice and almost-fresh.
Okay, the jam’s not really made with boogers (or bogeys, or snot – whatever your word of choice). And if I’ve offended or grossed out any of you…well…you’ll be okay. I’ve been sick for nearly a week, and I’m finally feeling better, and it’s making me a bit silly. Finally!
So. Green Tomato Jam.
Before Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene stopped by, Bill and I picked all our red tomatoes and a lot of the green ones as well. Better to pick them green than have them smashed to the ground by heavy winds and rain.
I made sauce with the red tomatoes, and wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with the green ones. Salsa? Nah. Pickles? No. Jam? Hmmmmmmm….
I confess the jam idea didn’t just pop into my head. I was poking around on Facebook or on another blog or somewhere, and came across a recipe for Green Tomato Jam over at Seattle Bon Vivant. While the recipe is a three day process, the steps are simple and relatively quick.
Intrigued, I started chopping.
You have to remove the seeds and the white part, which is kind of a pain if you’ve got a lot of cherry tomatoes. But the time is well spent – the seeds and the white core are pretty bitter, but the green flesh just below the skin is pleasant. A little tart, a little hint of tomato sweetness. Bill said it tasted like green pepper, but I didn’t think so. I think it’s just an overall green taste. Fresh, young, green.
Oh – and there’s no need to peel the tomatoes, either. Yay!
I diced the seeded, cored tomatoes and tossed them in a bowl with lime juice, lime zest, and sugar. (The original recipe calls for lemon juice and zest, but I had limes.)
Let the mixture sit, covered, overnight.
The next day, you scrape the mixture into a large pan, bring it to a boil, and cook it for ten minutes, stirring every now and then.
That’s it. Scrape it all back into a bowl, let it cool and pop it back in the fridge.
On the final day (and I have to admit, I got lazy and did nothing on day three – I did the final cooking and canning on the fourth day), you scrape everything into a pot, bring it to a boil again, then drop the heat to low and cook for another ten minutes, or until the jam has thickened sufficiently.
How do you tell? I put a small white plate in the fridge before I start cooking the jam, and then, when the jam has cooked at least ten minutes, I spoon a little bit onto the plate and pop it back in the fridge for a minute. When I take the plate out, the jam should have set – it doesn’t run if you tilt the plate. If it’s still very runny, keep cooking. I think, in retrospect, I should have cooked this jam longer than I did. Ah well, next time.
I processed the jam in prepared jars for fifteen minutes, and that was that. I ended up with seven 4-oz jars, two 8-oz jars, and one 12-oz jar of the tomato jam, plus a little extra that I poured into a ramekin for tasting.
The tomato bits are sweet and slightly chewy and faintly tomatoey. The rest of the jam – the thickened juice, basically, tastes almost like honey. It’s super sweet, slightly floral, with a hint of citrus from the lime juice and zest.
Very tasty. In the above picture, I’ve got some of the jam on top of a cracker with cream cheese, but I think it would be better with a stronger cheese, like a Brie, or a smear of Gorgonzola.
Now, on the final day when I was cooking and canning this, one of my kids’ friends from across the street came into the kitchen. I held out a spoon with a bit of jam on it and asked if he wanted some.
“What is it?” he asked.
“Booger jam!” I said happily. “We’ve been saving them and I finally had enough to make jam!”
His face froze and he looked a little suspicious. Not skeptical, though. He’s been in and out of our house enough that he isn’t really surprised by one of us offering him weird food. Julia eats fish eyes, after all.
I said nothing for a moment, and then I said, “Okay, it’s not really made of boogers, it’s green tomato jam.”
Immediately his look changed, and he became cool, unphased, jaded.
“I knew that,” he said breezily.
“No you didn’t,” I said.
“Yes I did!” he insisted. He’s so cute. His dimples are a mile deep. He scampered from the kitchen in search of my kids.
It was a fun little moment.
I’m thinking of doling this jam out at Halloween….
I wonder if I could make hard candies out of the bits of green tomato….