I came into a lot of green tomatoes this year as the frost approached. There’s no sense leaving them on the plant once a frost is on its way, so Clare and I and the neighbors picked all we had still on the vine and now I have the charge of making them taste good in jars. I’ve got about ten pounds.

Ok.

There are several recipes from Ferber, but they all sounded kinda wierd. 

Green Tomato and Cinnamon?

Green Tomato and Apples and Orange?

Green Tomato and Pumpkin?

Green Tomato and Veal Kidneys?

Ok, I made that last one up, but ew, right?

So, I decided to try Green Tomato and Ginger.

And then, as I was cooking, I was smelling the preserves and I thought to myself, “Hmm.. this smells great, I smells kinda like apple cider.”

Apple cider you say? Well, that was enough to convince me to cut up some Honeycrisp I bought at an orchard last week and toss ’em in the pot.

I like the end result. It’s got a nice smell and flavor and I really like the color. The tomatoes got much darker as they cooked.

Here’s the method.

Wash tomatoes.

Cut tomatoes into wedges and mix with an equal amount of sugar and juice of a lemon.  

Let macerate overnight. Bring to a boil the next day and return to fridge overnight.

The next day (day three by now), add medium dice apples and return to a boil.

Simmer and reduce until you achieve the desired set.

Here’s my end result:

Ok, here’s the next thing. 

I only used half the tomatoes and I’m needing to get going on the second half and I want your input.

So, vote for one of the two options below and I’ll make the winner:

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Hey folks, it’s been awhile since I wrote a post, but I’m back.

I’ve been hard at work getting things going to sell this delicious jams. I’m currently looking around for commercial kitchen space to rent. But, once I’m done with that and I get my food processor’s license, I should be in pretty good shape to start selling things.

I might even get things to market before the holidays. We’ll see…

The name for these tasty little treats is going to be quince & apple. Here’s the proposed logo:

But, in the midst of doing all this I have found time to make one jam that I really liked: Seckel Pears with Honey and Ginger.

I’ve always loved Seckels the best of all the pears because of their size, texture and flavor. They’re tiny, so they’re adorable. They’re more firm than Bartletts, but less so than Boscs. And, they have a strong pear flavor which carries some spice notes along for good measure.

So, I thought this recipe would be really good, with the honey and the ginger playing off of the Seckels’ spice overtones.

The method for this recipe is really quite simple.

Peel the pears (this is really annoying, just as a heads up).

Then, you cut ’em up, mix ’em with sugar, honey and grated fresh ginger, bring them to a simmer and put them in the fridge over night in a ceramic bowl with a parchment lid. The next day, you bring them mix to a simmer and add apple jelly for pectin content.

Simmer, reduce and can.

Here’s the final result:

Also, I wanted to thank another blogger at Straight from the Farm who put up a really nice post about my Ground Cherry Chamomile Jam and I wanted to congratulate another reader, Kathryn, who adapted the recipe to win second place in her local CSA recipe contest.

Go team david matthew readers!

Jellies Resurgent

September 21, 2008

Well, I’ve been working on jellies in the last couple of weeks and I’ve got two projects done.

The first jelly was the classic grape jelly. I got a bunch of fresh, organic concord grapes from Blue Skies Farm for super cheap because they were split in the picking.

I guess the farm makes wine from the majority of the grapes they grow, so the field hands aren’t very careful in picking the grapes. Perfect for a jelly maker.

The first time I had concord grapes, maybe 4 or 5 years ago, they were sitting on the counter in the kitchen of the house I was living at at the time. I absent mindedly picked one off the vine and threw it into my mouth. “Wow,” I thought, “this tastes just like grape jelly!” I had always just assumed that the flavor of grape jelly was as related to the taste of real grapes as blue razzberry is to real raspberries. Wrong! It’s just that concord grapes have a flavor all their own. Musky, tart, striking. I liked them a lot and have been eating them every year since as they come into season.

My goal was to try and make the grape jelly without pectin, as I’ve been trying to do with all my other jams. I found a recipe online that suggested I could do it, but I noticed that Ferber adds whole apples to all of her grape jams and jellies. I decided to trust the internet, over Ferber.

Honestly, what was I thinking?

The long story short is this: I’ve managed to make a great tasting grape thing with the consistency of molasses. There’s not really any pectin in grapes, so making jelly out of them is not really an option without added pectin of some kind. Oh well, lesson learned.

Here’s the jelly slowly working its way through a muslin lined chinois to achieve really clear jelly.

My next project was watermelon jelly. I had gotten a watermelon from my friend Andy at Sprouting Acres farm at market and was excited to get it into jelly form. But, after my grape jelly experience, I was wary. I also didn’t want to go the pectin stock route, because one of the great things about the watermelon juice I was turning into jelly was it’s bright pink color and I didn’t want to mess that up.

In the end, I decided to give commercial pectin a try. I can see that it has it’s uses and I’d like to be comfortable using it when appropriate.

This jelly turned out great in terms of color and texture. I also really like the flavor, but it’s not a peanut butter and jelly jelly. It’s also not really a cheese friendly preserve. I will tell you that it’s nice on toast and english muffins. It needs to be on or with something fairly light and unobtrusive because it itself has a fairly light and delicate flavor profile.

Also, depsite the fact that Watermelon Rose sounds both like a bath gel and a stripper, I added a rose hip infusion to the jelly as well. And before you get all in a huff, rose water and rose petals have a totally different flavor than rose hips, the fruit of the rose plant. Rose hips are tart and unctuous, not overly floral and grandma-y.

So, that’s what I’ve been up to in the jam world.

What’s coming next you say?

Maybe Maple Nectarine, maybe Quince Preserved in Honey.

Maybe something else entirely.

Tomato Peach Jam

August 27, 2008

Our neighbors and friends Graham and Rhea went out of town last week and left Clare and I in charge of watering their garden.  A risky proposition given our track record, but, fortunately, nothing catastrophic happened (aside from the installation of a satellite dish in the middle of the yard, but I don’t think we were to blame for that).

In return for not raining a vegetative pox down upon their plot, we got to pick and eat what was ripe and ready, quite the treat in the middle of August.

This is just the time in Wisconsin for that delicious treat, the Sungold Tomato. Small, round, orange and amazingly sweet, Sungolds, every year, make real for me the fact that tomatoes are fruits. Fortunately for me, my wise neighbors had planted a veritable host of Sungolds and I was transported.

“The fountain sprang up and the bird sang down … Till the wind shake a thousand whispers from the yew”

Using my greatest powers of restraint, I managed to usher the tomatoes home to safety without eating them, a trecherous ten yard odyssey, and proceeded to ruminate what I could make with these little globes of heaven.

Geez, someone’s feeling like an ex-English major today.

There’s a tomato farm in Brooklyn, WI, Tomato Mountain, that makes a bunch of sauces, salas and such for sale at markets with their produce and they make a Sungold Preserve. I thought first of them, but their preserve doesn’t really get my motor runnin’, if you know what I mean. So, I looked up tomatoes in Ferber and most of her recipes call for green tomatoes. She has one for ripe tomato jam with vanilla, but I just couldn’t get into it. It took me a while to do so, but I eventually settled on Tomato Peach Jam. Both are sweet, juicy and a bit musky. Good enough for me.

And they make peach salsa right? So, what the hell.

The next step was to draft a recipe.

I didn’t want either flavor to dominate because they both have so much to offer. Interestingly, there’s a classic french tomato preserve using red tomatoes with cinnamon in it, but I didn’t want to add spices, herbs or influences for the same reason. So, I decided half and half tomato and peach would work.

Ok, so I had my flavor profile in place and so I just needed to work out the texture. In both her tomato and peach jam recipes, Ferber calls for peeling and seeding the fruit. Ok, easy enough. Peaches apparently have enough pectin to make a jam on their own, but not so much with the tomatoes. Her recipe calls for the addition of Green Apple Jelly to enhance the pectin content. So, I decided that I’d use half of what she called for in her tomato recipe in my tomato peach recipe. After a day or two of work, I had that all set.

And with that, I had myself a proto-recipe, all you really need to get the process of trial and error moving.

The first step was to peel the peaches and tomatoes. To do this, you need to score the flesh, blanch the fruit for just a few seconds in boiling water and shock it in ice water.

In the tomatoes, the skin wrinkles and the flesh softens, allowing the easy removal of the seeds.

As you can see, I used both Sungolds and a meduim sized tomato called Taxi to bulk up jam.

I peeled and seeded everything, cut the peaches into sections, mixed the fruit with sugar and lemon juice, put it into the ceramic bowl that is getting the greatest workout of its life this month and let it sit overnight in the fridge.

On day two, I brought the whole mix to a boil and reduced it until it started to take on the proper consistency. At this point, I added the apple jelly/pectin stock and kept simmering until it set up how I wanted it to.

I canned it and let it cool on the counter.

Easy.

The resulting jam is unique but I really like it. It’s not so much a breakfast with waffles jam. It plays better with a robust baguette or sourdough and some good cheese. With the tomatoes, it is certainly bridging the savory sweet gap and it needs to be used as such.

Enjoy!

Tomato Peach Jam

3# ripe peaches

3# ripe tomatoes (Use sweeter, juicier tomatoes, like Sungolds, not sauce or paste tomatoes, like Romas)

Juice of one lemon

4# sugar

1# (1 pint) Green Apple Jelly

Sources

Peaches – Kokopelli Produce

Tomatoes – Graham and Rhea for Sungolds and Happy Valley Farm for Taxis

Green Apple Jelly – Me

Sugar – Shur Fine Can Sugar

Lemon – Harmony Valley Fruit CSA