The cold late spring and late summer for some reason meant good fruit yields, that includes tomatoes. The vine tomatoes at the Indian shop were irresistibly fragrant. Tomato vines/stalks always seems to me more fragrant than the fruit. Just smell the vine tomatoes with and without the attached stalk and you will understand what I mean. I came home with a couple of kilograms of gorgeously fragrant red tomatoes.
My mother always made tomato jam for as long as I remember whenever tomatoes were in season. That is the only jam she made, but it was delicious and in demand. She never peeled the tomatoes and the skin was candied in the sugar and enhanced the jam. Sometimes she perked up the jam with cardamom, which gave it a different dimension. But I decided to skip it to concentrate on the tomato flavour. Many a time, after a few days/weeks my mothers jam used to crystallise, Adding a little glucose syrup interferes with sugar crystallisation, so goes the theory, and it works as I discovered in my prior experiments trying to recreate my mothers jam.
Chopping the tomatoes cuts the skin into smaller pieces so you don’t get a large piece of skin in your mouth. Smaller pieces of skin candied in the sugar, enhances the taste and you don’t notice it. No need to peel! Tomatoes are full of water, which needs to evaporate and thicken, meaning it requires much less sugar than the traditional jam ratio of 1:1 fruit and sugar. To top it all, tomatoes vary widely in water content as well as sweetness, predicting sugar requirement difficult. So it is up to taste as you make it.
Tomatoes splatter a lot when boiled, and with the added sugar which sticks to you, is very painful. So using a tall stock pot and a long wooden spoon to stir is invaluable. A splatter guard would be an acceptable but not ideal alternative as you still have to stir. Look at the picture below of the 14 litre stock pot I used to see how high the tomato jam splatters.
Homemade Tomato Jam
A brinskitchen recipe
1kg Tomatoes – fresh, firm, best quality only
500 gm sugar – starting point, add according to taste
1 Lemon juice (med size was about 6 tbsp)
Butter 2 tbsp
Glucose syrup 1 tbsp (optional)
1. Chop the tomatoes. If very watery, some of the water can be removed by placing the chopped tomatoes in a sieve or colander lined with a cheese cloth for a couple of hours.
2. Add to as high sided a jam pan or stock pot as you have and bring to a simmer.
3. Add the sugar and stir till completely dissolved. Do not bring to a boil till sugar is completely dissolved.
4. Bring it to a rolling boil and add the lemon juice and let boil for 5 mins. Test for sugar and lemon and add if necessary.
5. Test for setting point and boil for a few more minutes if not set.
6. Optional glucose syrup about 1tbsp if using and mix. Bring it to a boil and fill in sterilised bottles.
Note: You can add different flavours like powdered cardamom or even flaked chillies to the jam.