Musical pairing – Draw the Line by David Gray
It seemed like a good idea at the time. My first foray into gardening was embraced with both enthusiasm and determination – everyone knows that one must first scope out the space, then plot and mark the area, shovel, rake, hoe and amend the soil with compost and know, without a doubt, that you’ll be pulling weeds for the season.
I researched heirloom seeds, talked with many a Master Gardner, poured over gardening catalogs before deciding that carrots, broccoli, turnips, cabbage, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, red peppers, jalapeno peppers, eggplant, beets, corn, green beans, cucumbers, cantaloupe, watermelon, basil, parsley, thyme, sage, oregano and potatoes would make my first garden nearly perfect . . . as I labored preparing the ground, a childhood nursery rhyme sang in my head:
Mary, Mary, quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells, and cockle shells,
And pretty maids all in a row
Surrounded by the Blue Mountains of Walla Walla I dug, yanked, knelt, reached, stretched, and then soaked, aching muscles I didn’t know I had. Looking back I have no idea what I was thinking – that garden could have fed a small army – and I had overlooked one tiny little detail . . . because in my zest for planting my very first garden I planted 50, yes I did say 50, as in 5-0, tomato plants.
Let’s just say that this summer, the summer of my very first garden, I learned how to make all-things-tomato: sauce, paste, ketchup, salsa, soup and various other recipes I’m sure I’ve blanked out of my mind after weeks of being up to my armpits in tomatoes.
I wish I had known about tomato jam – I’d probably have skipped some of the other recipes as this is good enough to eat straight from the jar.
NOTE: I make this jam in the summer when the garden is bursting with tomatoes. We love it with meatloaf, on crostini over a bit of ricotta cheese or served alongside scrambled eggs!
If you find your jam a bit too chunky, you can either run a potato-masher through it or do a quick pass through a food mill – I found that the type of tomato will determine how much they cook down. We like our jam to have small pieces of tomato in it rather than a completely smooth texture.
And finally, I’ve made this jam in the dead of winter with grocery store plum tomatoes – not as good as seasonal tomatoes but will do in a pinch!
Slightly adapted from Stir, Barbara Lynch
Makes about 2 cups
- 4.5 pounds tomatoes, cored, seeds, removed and chopped
- 1 cup sugar
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup water
- Slice tomatoes into halves or quarters, core and remove seeds, reserving liquid; chop tomatoes into chunks
- Strain reserved liquid through a fine mesh strainer; discard seeds and any pulp
- Add water, sugar, cider vinegar and strained liquid into large, wide, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved
- Add chopped tomatoes and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until jam-like consistency – about 3 hours, give or take
- Jam will keep refrigerated, for about 2 weeks . . . if it lasts that long!
© 2012, Debra. All rights reserved.