Try this way of keeping the bright summer taste of tomatoes around all year long.
Nothing says summer like fresh tomatoes! When ripe, juicy tomatoes start to appear in farmers markets, I know warm weather is here to stay. We plan picnics, dine alfresco and take road trips to the north Georgia mountains with food baskets in hand. Our menus are laden with tomato salsas, veggie pizzas with fresh-cut tomato slices, Mediterranean tomato sauces, grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches—a never-ending list of uses for tomatoes.
Here in the Atlanta area, we are lucky to have a long tomato-growing season. But when it ends, how can we hold on to that succulent summery taste all year long? Canning allows us to capture this freshness and flavor in a jar—loading our pantry with 12 months of goodness. No more flavorless tomatoes off-season.
I choose organic tomatoes because they are grown without pesticides and have the best flavor since they need to be picked close to ripeness. This means they will usually need to be canned within a day or two of harvesting. You can choose any kind of tomato for canning. While Roma is often suggested, I choose with my nose. If it has a great aroma, I find it usually tastes great, too! Ripe, juicy tomatoes often produce a lot of liquid in the jar. Full of flavor, this liquid can be used right along with the pulp in sauces and stews.
A great to preserve fresh tomatoes is to make this savory tomato jam. If you haven’t tried or tasted tomato jam, you’re in for a treat. This is not sweet like most jams so it lends itself to complementing strong cheeses like brie for an appetizer or sandwich, as a condiment for hamburgers, a side dish for scooping onto meat loaf or a dressing for roasting pork, beef or other meats.
- 10 pounds ripe tomatoes
- 2 cups cane or organic raw sugar
- 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon allspice
- 3 teaspoons puréed fresh ginger or 4 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
- ½ to 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes to taste
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Prepare the canning jars by placing them in a water bath canner. Bring to boil and simmer for at least 10 minutes while preparing tomatoes. Place lids in a small saucepan with water to cover and simmer at very low heat. Prepare tomatoes by washing, removing core and dicing into ½-inch pieces.
- Place in a heavy nonreactive stockpot or enameled Dutch oven and cook on high heat, stirring constantly. When boiling, turn the heat down to low and add spices. Let cook until the consistency is similar to jam. This can take from 1 to 3 hours, depending on ripeness and juiciness of tomatoes. You can test this by spooning a small amount onto a saucer, let cool and then check to see if jam remains in a pool when the saucer is turned up. If it runs down the saucer, continue cooking and test again.
- When ready, remove jars from boiling water and ladle jam into each. Wipe rims and seal with lids and bands. Process in water bath canner for 30 minutes after the water has returned to boil.
- Remove jars to a location where they can remain undisturbed for 12 hours. After 1 hour, test the lid seal and place any unsealed jars in the refrigerator immediately.
*This recipe comes to us from Edible Atlanta. Lyn Deardorff is a 40-year canner, starting with her grandmother making sauerkraut and dill pickles in her basement. She teaches canning workshops in the Atlanta area and has produced and sold organic preserved fruits and vegetables. For more information please visit preservingnow.com.