October may be just around the corner but don’t tell that to my overachieving Sungolds, they’re still running riot over the sunny patch of garden fondly dubbed Tomatoworld. These sweet, juicy, orangey little cherry tomatoes have pretty much taken over the southeast corner of the house with just some fertilizer, water, and an elaborate scaffolding system that would make Rube Goldberg proud. Why? Cuz despite their micro size and 8′x4′ patch of prized garden real estate, these sweeet babies grow so well over our short growing season that they sneer at weeny tomato cages and gobble them for elevensies. So, in a fit of jerry-rigged engineering gymnastics, the hubster cannibalized some plastic coated metal cages and created a post-apocalyptic jungle gym for the herbaceous set replete with reinforced crossbars cross-linked to vertical support bars with industrial strength hook and loop. Blessed are the geek(y) for they shall reap the tomatoes?
Anyhoo, since there’s only so much BBQ sauce, pastas, and caprese salads we can eat, I’ve been turning these luscious salmon-colored babies into a savory tomato jam; a sweetly spiced condiment if you will. In fact, the hubby likes it so much he often substitutes it for mustard or aïoli on his sammiches. I like using it for BLTs, giving you juicy tangy concentrated tomatoey flavor without roly poly Sungolds falling all over your plate or watery tomatoes turning your bread into a soggy shredded mess. I find that the ginger and cinnamon stick add zesty flavor and garlic would have a home in my pantry even if it didn’t ward off nosferatu [fingers crossed]. I’ve added the paprika and Sriracha for some heat but they only add just a hint so even the most capsaicin averse should be happy campers. The thyme adds a smooth, savory note but feel free to experiment with other spices like coriander or basil or whatever’s looking lonely in your pantry. And the 90+ minutes spent simmering and reducing your sweet yet mouthwateringly tangy orangey liquid gold? Just perfect for sipping some sangria while reading about the heated competition for ugliest animal, and shimmying to [insert happy-dance music here].
Did you hear the one about …?
1) Once again, this recipe will require a pressure canner cuz the USDA recommends pressure canning for foods that are low in acidity because a higher pH (less acidity, higher number) allows bacteria (mainly Clostridium botulinum in this case) to grow in canned goods and some tomato varieties have a pH above 4.6 which is the safety cut off for acidity. Theoretically Sungolds have a pH around 4.6, so with the addition of other ingredients that are less acidic and not wanting to add acid and change the flavor of the jam, I’ve elected to pressure can; better safe than intubated
2) And no, I didn’t process the pretty French wire bail jars, those were used just for their photogenicity (sure, that’s a word, ahem). Best to process your plain yet serviceable glass mason jars with the metal screw top lids for low acid foods but with high acid water bath processing (which isn’t high pressure) like pickles you can trot out your pretties
5-6 c cherry tomatoes
1 tbsp (2 inches) crushed ginger
2 tsp (3-4 cloves) crushed garlic
1 3-inch cinnamon stick
1/2 tsp fresh (1/2 tbsp dried) thyme
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp sea salt
1-2 tsp honey, depending on how sweet your tomatoes are
1 tsp sweet Hungarian paprika
1 tbsp Sriracha hot sauce, optional
In a large, ~3-4 quart pot bring all ingredients to a simmer. Once the tomatoes have softened and they start to burst, turn off heat and pulse with an immersion blender, food processor, or blender till puréed. The skins will turn into tiny slivers but you can’t really feel the texture at all. Continue to simmer and reduce to the consistency of ketchup. I like to add 1 tsp of honey at first and then taste it again after it’s reduced to the consistency I like since the sweetness of the tomatoes can vary. Add additional honey at that point if you like it sweeter cuz you can always add more but you can’t take away if it’s too sweet. Let cool for 10-15 minutes so it’s not molten hot when you’re handling it. Fill sterilized 4-oz jam jars to just below the fill line with jam. Screw lids closed but not tightly. Process in a pressure canner at 11 pounds pressure for 15 minutes. Once the pressure canner has equalized to ambient pressure remove the jars with tongs or an oven mitt and screw tightly closed. Makes ~eleven 4-oz jars (cuz mine goes to eleven ;)). Store in a cool, dark place like your basement filled other summer-made goodies or a cabinet that’s not right next to your stove. Keeps for ~1 year. Refrigerate once opened.