Seasonal Tomato Preserves!

Gather some backyard tomatoes...

Tomatoes are in abundance this time of year, and they never fail to come center-stage at our tables as the heat and light of summer presses on.  This week, we featured a recipe in our cooking class at the Fullerton Arboretum that highlighted some additional potential of the summer tomato: tomato preserves.  It’s not that the idea of a preserved tomato is new – far from it.  But the simplicity with which these particular summer tomatoes are preserved, and the great ingredients added to them that make them sparkle even greater, well, is just magic. Read on for the full recipe and browse the photos of the process in this post’s gallery…

Aside from the simplicity of the recipe, the applications are extremely diverse.  At once savory and sweet, with a hint of spice from fresh ginger, a hint of warmth from cinnamon, and an underlying note of acidity from lemon – you can slather these preserves on anything from ham to cheese to, well, nothing at all.  They’re that good.  I was surprised at the collective reaction from the class attendees when they sampled the finished preserves.  Everyone, EVERYONE was truly delighted and inspired to make them at home.  That’s a winner in my book.

Flavors aside, these preserves excel in texture and appearance.  The tomatoes (roma in this instance) retain their body yet have yielded most rigidity.  They emerge from the pot gentle, sweetened slightly with sugar, and lacquered through the reduction of their own juices.  Best of all, these preserves keep well in the refrigerator for a month, which means that one batch will last for as long as you need it – which I promise will be shorter than you think.

Attempt this simple recipe, inspired from the great chefs from the Canal House (see my earlier blog post about them).  It will fill your kitchen with enticing aroma, it will fill your canning jars with an unforgettable preserve, and it will certainly pay homage and respect to your summer tomatoes; ingredients worthy of a process as true, as simple, and crafted as they deserve.

Here is the full recipe, as adapted from Canal House:

Canal House Red Tomato Preserves

Makes  4-6 half-pints

The tomato is, after all, a fruit.  Actually, it is one of the most luscious fruits around.  We will be preserving them every which way this summer while gardens and farmers’ markets are full up with the lovelies.

5 pounds ripe tomatoes

2 cups granulated cane sugar

Rind and juice of 2 lemons

A fat 3-inch finger fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced

1 stick cinnamon

  1. Plunge tomatoes into a pot of boiling water for 20 seconds to loosen their skins.  Remove the tomatoes from the pot and when cool enough to handle, peel off the skin.  Halve tomatoes crosswise and squeeze out the seeds.  Put tomatoes, sugar, lemon rind and juice, ginger, and cinnamon into a large, heavy pot.  Cook over medium heat until it comes to a boil, stirring from time to time with a wooden spoon to keep the sugar from burning while it melts.  Stir gently so the fruit doesn’t break up too much.  Reduce heat to low and gently simmer until tomatoes look slightly translucent and the liquid has thickened, about 1 hour.  Using a slotted spoon, divide the tomatoes between 4-6 hot sterilized jars.  Increase the heat to high and reduce the juices until thick and syrupy, about 5 minutes more.  Remove the cinnamon stick.  Divide the syrup between the jars and seal.  Allow the jars to cool undisturbed for several hours.  These preserves will keep in the refrigerator for a few months.

Happy eating!!

– Jonathan Dye

2 thoughts on “Seasonal Tomato Preserves!”

  1. This sounds like a great recipe for using all my summer tomatoes. Can’t wait to try it. I would have never thought of using tomatoes for a sweet application, I have always done something savory like a marinara in the past.

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