Sometimes I dream of having a house situated right next door to Jill Chen. I’d bring her jam or infused spirits, she’d give me some chicken eggs or perhaps a pound of shrimp. We’d laze away the afternoon cooking all sorts of stuff in her handmade outdoor earth oven or roll up fresh chicken spring rolls for snacks. All of this would be done with a glass of wine, of course. – Maggie
This is the time of year where beautiful tomatoes of all shapes, colors and sizes abound! Our annual Labor Day tradition has been making tomato sauce, but this year we’ve also added Tomato Basil Jam to the pot. So simple, so yummy, it’s the perfect condiment for grilled cheese sandwiches, burgers, charcuterie, a cheese plate, or as a glaze over meat. It’s also great to stock pile in your pantry for hostess or teacher’s gifts, or to share and swap with neighbors.
I’ve used heirloom cherry tomatoes from the garden, but any kind will do. There is roughly five pounds here, approximately 12 cups.
Wash and slice your cherry tomatoes. This is the perfect time to save some of the seeds for next year. The beauty of heirloom varieties is that they take on the parent’s traits and characteristics, so this year’s gorgeous plum sweetness will also be passed on next year.
Chop (if you are using larger tomatoes) or slice and place in a non-reactive colander. Lightly toss and massage your tomatoes with a tablespoon of salt, then let it stand for 30 minutes to let the excess juices flow out.
When most of the liquid has drained, place the tomatoes into a wide shallow non-stick pan and simmer on low heat. Add three cups of sugar and 1/2 cup of lemon juice. Keep the lid off and let it simmer slowly, stirring occasionally until more than half has reduced to a syrupy jammy consistency.
You should be able to see the bottom when you scrape a spoon across the pan. Take it off the heat and stir in 1/2 cup of chopped fresh basil.
This is a basic recipe, you can also add hot chili peppers, cinnamon, cloves, or ginger to spice it up.
Spoon in to sterilized jars, following your canner’s instructions.
Tomato Basil Jam
Adapted from Food in Jars, makes 5 half pint jars
- 5 pounds or approximately 12 cups of tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 3 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup loosely chopped basil
- Wash and slice cherry tomatoes, or chop large tomatoes.
- Toss and massage with salt. Let sit for 30 minutes to let juices from tomato flow out. Sterilize your jars and lids in hot water while you wait.
- Discard the juice, and dump strained tomatoes into a large, wide, shallow pan. Add sugar and lemon juice. Simmer with lid off on medium-low heat. Check and stir occasionally.
- Once tomatoes start to thicken, watch and stir more often that it doesn’t burn.
- When it’s thick to your liking, anywhere to between a syrup or jam consistency (I like mine thicker), remove from heat and stir in the basil.
- Spoon into sterilized jars, wiping brims of any jam residue before applying lids and rings. Process in water bath for 10 minutes, then remove and let cool. You will hear the lids pop as they seal vacuum tight. Any jars that don’t seal properly can be stored in the fridge and used first. The rest will last a year or more stored in a dark cool place.
All photos styled and taken by Jill Chen.
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