Saturday morning tomato jam

First: I’m very excited to announce that my Apple Cinnamon Bran Muffins were featured on Baking is Hot today. Yay!
Second: eggs, cheese, and tomato jam were made for each other.

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        It is a beautiful, sunny Saturday in Maine. The breeze is cool. The sun is warm. There is work to be done and fall scenery to enjoy.
        Yesterday I took on a food I have been itching to make all summer: jam. Ever since my mom mentioned an interest in canning and I spotted some intriguing jam recipes online I’ve been thinking about giving it a try. Lee got me a pressure cooker for my birthday, partly so I could use it for canning. That sent both of us into a flurry of research on preserving jams, jellies, pickles, salsas, and whole fruit. This is complicated stuff! Canning is a science not to be taken lightly! That said, it really isn’t that hard once you wrap your brain around the basic do’s and don’ts. I encourage anyone who’s never tried it to consider canning on a stormy day, which it what yesterday was around here.
        Rain and wind kept us inside so I whipped out the tomato jam recipe from Cosmic Cowgirl, got my canning tools in order, and started chopping tomatoes. To tell the truth, Lee’s mom had already blanched and peeled the tomatoes and they were waiting for me in the fridge. They came from her mother’s garden and there was just the right amount for this recipe.
        I was surprised by how simple this jam was to make. I just threw everything in a pot and simmered it till it was “jammy”. Fortunately, my mom gave me little cheesecloth spice bags for my birthday so I had something to contain the herbs. The cinnamon sticks are definitely my favorite ingredient in this recipe. They made the whole house smell fantastic, like cinnamon mixed with a smell it doesn’t normally accompany: cooking tomatoes. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the whole cloves the recipe calls for. They would have been yummy but they were nowhere to be found in the pantry!
        This morning’s taste test took place in much sunnier weather than yesterday’s concocting. The sight of three, brilliant, deep red jam-filled jars on the counter this morning beckoned for a relaxed weekend breakfast. I used the last two homemade english muffins, a couple of eggs, some cheddar rice cheese, and a two generous dollops of tomato jam for Lee’s egg sandwiches. I also thawed and baked the second half of the cinnamon rolls I made last month. This time I topped them with a little butter and a sprinkle of cinnamon when they came out of the oven. Yum!
        I leave you with a jam recipe, perhaps to peak your interest in canning just because you want to know what tomato jam tastes like. We will enjoy the 3 half pint jars of this on countless things. When they’re gone I’ll probably make it again with the cloves and more spicy spiciness. While the flavor is fabulous, this jam would be even better with more bite, in my opinion.

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Heirloom Tomato Jam
From Cosmic Cowgirl, originally from White on Rice (makes approximately 3 half pints)

2 pounds heirloom or homegrown tomatoes
1 cup light brown sugar
2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves (or whatever herbs you like)
8 whole cloves
2 sticks good quality cinnamon
4 tsp aged balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp bottled lemon or lime juice

Blanch, peel, and roughly chop the tomatoes.
Place thyme or other spices in cheesecloth of a tea ball infuser (cinnamon sticks can go straight in the pot).
Combine all ingredients, including spice bag, in a medium-sized saucepan and cook at a medium simmer for 30-45 minutes (My jam took about 45 minutes).
Remove spice bag and cinnamon.
Put jam into clean, warm jars, add lids and process in a hot water canner for 15 minutes.
See The USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning for detailed processing instructions. This seems like a good general guide to canning and has some recipes as well.

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