It’s about this time every year that I start worrying. Summer is winding down and within a few weeks there will be fewer and fewer gorgeous tomatoes to be had. I’ve already realized that I’m just a day or two away from pulling my own plants out of their pots. There goes one of the highlights of my day-foraging through the plants and filling my basket with the ripest fruit. We’re toying with the idea of putting in a cherry tomato plant in hopes of having some winter tomatoes. Even though we live in a warm climate, there’s just something not quite as wonderful with tomatoes grown off season.
So I’ve been peeling and roasting tomatoes, making sauce and filling freezer bags, trying to keep a little bit of summer for the months ahead. I have to admit that I’m not a canning pro and only feel comfortable when I take this project on with the aid of my friend V. The other day I was inspired by cookbook author Domenica Marchetti’s recipe for marmellata di pomodori (tomato jam). I decided to take the easy way out and not go the canning route, but filled jars which will keep on the fridge for a month. Next time maybe I’ll be brave and actually “can”!
Tomato Jam from Domenica Marchetti at Domenica Cooks
Makes two 1/2-pint jars (or three 0.15-liter jars)
5 pounds ripe plum tomatoes, washed
2 cups sugar
Juice and peel of 2 large lemons (peel should be cut into strips)
1 to 2 tablespoons good balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon sea salt
8 whole cloves
2 bay leaves
2 chile peppers, minced
Cut the stem end off the tomatoes. With a vegetable peeler, slice the skin off the tomatoes in strips. Cut them in half lengthwise and push out the seeds with your thumb (I do this over the sink). Cut the tomato halves in half again lengthwise, and then cut each quarter into 3 or 4 pieces. Toss the tomato pieces into a heavy-bottomed non-reactive pot as you go.
Measure the remaining ingredients into the pot with the tomatoes. Set the pot over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Cook at a fairly lively simmer for about 1 1/2 hours or until the marmalade is glossy and thick enough to spread. Be sure to stir often to prevent burning.
Spoon the marmalade into sterilized jars and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. If you don’t feel like going through the trouble of processing, store the marmalade in the refrigerator, where it will keep for at least a month.
*This savory, spicy “jam” would be the perfect accompaniment to roasted meats, or slathered on a sandwich and would be a wonderful addition to your next cheese board.