First: Iâ€™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.
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 Iâ€™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 isnâ€™t that hard once you wrap your brain around the basic doâ€™s and donâ€™ts. I encourage anyone whoâ€™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, Leeâ€™s mom had already blanched and peeled the tomatoes and they were waiting for me in the fridge. They came from her motherâ€™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 â€œjammyâ€. 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 doesnâ€™t normally accompany: cooking tomatoes. Unfortunately, I didnâ€™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 morningâ€™s taste test took place in much sunnier weather than yesterdayâ€™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 Leeâ€™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 theyâ€™re gone Iâ€™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.
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.