Chez Rebecca Anne: Tomato Jam
Tomato jam. The absolute purpose of cherry tomatoes (especially sungolds) in this eater's opinion. Don't get me wrong - cherry tomatoes are great in salads or blistered with fresh pasta, basil, salt, pepper and a good olive oil. I am sure there's a long list.
But. Tomato jam. It is a beacon of summer flavor that I dream of all winter long. That I eagerly await when I plant the tomatoes each spring. That I giggle as I prepare. That, when I get to enjoy, I find myself sighing with eating pleasure.
Tomatoes are naturally sweet - and cherry varietals even more so. The natural sugars in combination with garlic, a good olive oil, and a touch of salt come together in the most divine way.
The BEST part about all this is how easy it is to prepare. Yes, it takes a couple hours of slow and low roasting, but that's about it. I actually make this in the toaster oven too - so it doesn't heat up the house.
So what do you need to make your own - here we go:
A pint or two of cherry tomatoes*
3 - 6 cloves of garlic, diced**
3 - 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil***
Genral rule of thumb: Garden or farmer's market fresh is always the recommendation, where accessible.
* Sungold (yellow and small cherry tomoatoes) are highly encouraged, although you can use your preference or a combination. I used a combination when I captured images for this post.
** I like garlic, so I am heavy handed with it. If your taste buds differ, air on the lesser side.
Preheat a toaster or conventional oven to 225 degrees ; cover a sheet pan / toaster pan with foil and spray with a non-silicone spray to use as the roasting pan
Cut tomatoes in halves (or quarters if they are large) and spread in a single layer on the roasting pan
Add the diced garlic and mix up.
Sprinkle salt & pepper to taste
Add olive oil and mix all again to be sure all tomatoes are touched by the olive oil.
Put in the 225 degree oven for 2 - 2 1/2 hours, checking every 15 - 20 minutes. You may want to toss the tomatoes when you check on them to turn them over a bit.
As they roast, the tomatoes will start to shrink and shrivel up a bit. This is expected - and a condensing of the flavors. Rejoice a bit when you see this start to happen.
So how do you know when enough roasting is enough? You don't want the tomatoes to get rubbery. You will start to smell them cooking about 1 1/2 hours or so into the cooking. Taste test - are they soft (lost the raw consistency)? Has the garlic come to a point where it melts in your mouth? Those two in combination mean you've (literally) found the sweet spot.
I, then, tend to turn the oven off and leave the tomatoes to cook just a touch more as the oven cools. Remove, let cool, and store in the refrigerator as you enjoy.
Now - what do you add tomato jam too? My short-list brainstorm for you:
Hamburgers off the grill
As the T in a BLT (maybe add avacado too?)
Any slice of fresh bread or toast you can find
But my personal favorite is to have it on egg sandwiches - I toast good bread, spread a small touch of ghee (or avocado if I have it), then add the jam, and top off with either a hard-boiled egg or one that's sunny-side up.
I have not tried this with tomatoes off-season. It may be a nice stop-gap until we have fresh tomatoes again....but I would rather savor the summer perfection for a limited time each year. Makes it that much more joyful when I make it each year.
Summer flavor perfection.