If you’re like me, you want to keep on tasting summer for at least another couple of weeks. I am especially reluctant to say goodbye to the many shades of homegrown tomatoes I’ve been stuffing myself silly with for the past two months.
Luckily, I still have quite a bit of fruit on my vines (a benefit of planting late this year). While I plan on making much of it into sauce, I’m also turning some of these juicy orbs into a jam. Tomato jam requires just a handful of ingredients and minimal effort, and it is as easy as making applesauce. All you need are ripe tomatoes, some warm spices, a sharp knife, a heavy sauce pot and patience for a few hours as the jam cooks.
Most recipes call for using plum or Roma tomatoes, but I used a combination of yellow, purple and red heirlooms, with a few cherry tomatoes thrown in for good measure. Feel free to play around with the spices — grated ginger and red pepper flakes add some heat while vinegar counterbalances the sweetness. You also could add cloves, paprika, coriander or allspice.
This recipe makes two 8-ounce jars of jam that will keep for a couple of weeks in the refrigerator or for months if processed in a hot-water bath.
The jam can be spread on toast or biscuits, spooned on top of eggs or cheese, or used as a condiment for meat. But it’s especially good slathered inside a crispy grilled cheese sandwich, with more on the side for dipping.
Grilled Cheese with Tomato Jam
Yield: 2 sandwiches
- 3 pounds tomatoes, cored and coarsely chopped
- 1/2 small yellow or red onion or 1 shallot, chopped
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon grated or minced fresh ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin
- Pinch or two of red pepper flakes, or 1 hot chile pepper, seeded and minced
- 1/4 cup cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise, divided
- 4 slices good bread
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 4 slices cheese, such as Muenster, Swiss or cheddar
- Place tomatoes and other ingredients into a large saucepan over medium heat.
- Bring to a gentle boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until thickened to a jam-like consistency, 2 1/2-3 hours. Transfer to sterilized glass jars and store in refrigerator for up to two weeks.
- For long-term storage, use a hot-water canning bath for 15 minutes.
- Spread 1/2 tablespoon mayonnaise over the top side of each slice of bread.
- Heat a small nonstick skillet over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of butter. After it melts, place the slice of bread, mayo side down, in the pan. Top with 2 slices of cheese and a generous dollop of tomato jam; spread jam to cover. Top with a second slice of bread, mayo side up.
- Cook until the bottom side is golden brown, about 4 minutes, then flip. Gently press down on sandwich for even browning and to help melt cheese. Cook until second side is golden brown and cheese is melted.
- Remove from heat, and repeat with remaining slices of bread and cheese.
- Serve immediately, with chips or a green salad.
— Gretchen McKay, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette