Jammed Tomatoes

As a tomato is actually a piece of fruit, more precisely belonging to the berry family, I reckon turning them into jam is really a nice idea.

Before sharing mummy’s favourite tomato & apple jam recipe with you, I would like to tell you a bit more about the actual tomato itself as I did quite some extensive research which I am more than willing to share with you. There is more to that simple red fruit than meets the eye.

Did you know, by the way, that the Italian word “pomodoro” actually means “golden apple”?

TOMATO HISTORY

According to Wikipedia “The tomato is the edible, often red, berry of the plant Solanum lycopersicum, commonly known as a tomato plant. The species originated in western South America. The Nahuatl (Aztec language) word tomatl gave rise to the Spanish word tomate, from which the English word tomato derived. Its use as a cultivated food may have originated with the indigenous peoples of Mexico. The Spanish encountered the tomato from their contact with the Aztec during the Spanish colonization of the Americas and brought it to Europe. From there, the tomato was introduced to other parts of the European-colonized world during the 16th century. Numerous varieties of the tomato plant are widely grown in temperate climates across the world, with greenhouses allowing for the production of tomatoes throughout all seasons of the year.”

 

The Netherlands is actually one of the largest exporters of fresh tomatoes in the world nowadays. All over the country you can see large greenhouses, a lot of them growing these precious red “berries”.

In the twentieth century, however, tomatoes were being bred bigger and bigger, resulting in a considerable taste loss, until around 1990 Dutch tomato growers began to breed smaller and consequently tastier produce.

As I read in an article “The Netherlands has basically reinvented the tomato.” Moreover, they drastically reduced the use of chemical pesticides and the dependence on water, in this way committing themselves to much more sustainable horticulture, I read in an interesting article in National Geographic.

Nowadays, flavoursome tomatoes are widely available, from supermarkets to markets to fruit & vegetable monger.

The brix level gives you an idea of how sweet the tomato is. The higher the brix level, the sweeter the tomato, the more taste the tomato has.

VIDEO

I have added a video in which you can see an example of a Dutch greenhouse where tomatoes are growing in water and substrate, which is a much more sustainable growing method as the grower can more efficiently make use of the available water and nutrients. Do you see the bumble bees? Bumble bees not only take care of pollinating the tomato plants. They are also useful for crop protection.

ABOUT JAM MAKING

Mummy always says that it feels relaxed and cosy making specials jams that she can give to people as a present, with a nice label and cover. You could say it is her way of expressing her appreciation for people, maybe also a way to express herself. The popping sound the jars filled with jam make when they seal shut after resting upside down for about 10 minutes gives her such a content, homey feeling, which I share with her. One after the other they make that popping sound, ready to start their hibernation in your cool and dark cupboard.  Try it yourself.  Experience the “jam feeling”.  Experience the “jam feeling”.  It is an ideal zen moment, culinary mindfulness so as to speak.

Moreover, sitting down to a slice of toast covered with fresh fruit jam is a rare treat.  The variety is endless, restricted only by the season’s variety of fruit.

In Belgium they tend to use the term “confituur” derived from the French term for it “confiture”, whereas the Dutch use the English related word “jam”.  The fact remains that it is made of whole or cut fruit.

Mummy has never been very keen on store-bought jams because she found most of them too sweet.  In the jams she makes she tries to use as little sugar as possible.

In order to let the jam set, you need pectin. It is produced commercially as a white to light brown powder, mainly extracted from citrus fruits, and is used in food as a gelling agent particularly in jams and jellies.  Apples, quince, plums, gooseberries, oranges and other citrus fruits contain much pectin, while soft fruits like cherries, grapes and strawberries contain little pectin. In the Netherlands you can buy sugar with added pectin, called jam sugar.  You can also find special preserving sugar which has a higher level of pectin for making less sweet jam.

“By adding jam sugar – or sugar with pectin powder – you reduce the cooking time drastically.  In the old days jam had to cook for quite some time until the preferred thickness was obtained. The advantage is that you can still taste the freshness of the fruit and that makes homemade jam extra delicious!”

If you add lemons or apples, you'll improve not only the flavour of the jam, but it also helps with the pectin setting level.

TOMATO & APPLE JAM RECIPE

The attached recipe is a delicious and special combination that mummy discovered by accident by first making apple jam and then tomato jam.  It seemed to be a good idea to mix both, so a new combination was born.  The result is truly fantastic, if I may say so myself, proud of my mummy’s original recipe.

This jam goes very well with cheese, oatcakes, …

TOMATO & APPLE JAM

A delicious combination with tasty spices
Course: Jams & preserves
Cuisine: Belgian/Dutch
Keyword: apple, cardamon, ginger, jam, less sugar, tomato, vanilla
Author: LittleBoy2Be

Equipment

  • a wide pan with a heavy bottom (eg. a preserving pan)
  • jam jars, number depending on the size
  • a wooden sppon
  • a jar funnel (makes life a lot easier)
  • a ladle

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ kg tomatoes amount after peeling and removing the hard bits
  • ½ kg apples amount peeled and cubed – use firm, crispy apples that keep their shape as I like the apple bits being visible in the jam
  • ½ tsp cardamom powder
  • ½ tsp ginger powder or freshly grated ginger
  • ½ vanilla pod cut lengthwise and seeds scraped out
  • 2 packages of 20 g each low sugar pectin powder I use the Belgian brand Pec Plus by Imperial Baking
  • 2 juice of lemons
  • ½ kg sugar

Instructions

  • Quarter, peel and core the apples. Cut the apples quarters in small pieces. Pour the lemon juice over the apple pieces to avoid colouring.
  • Wash the tomatoes and dip them in boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds or until their skins split, then dip them in cold water. Slip off the skins. Quarter them and remove the hard parts. Cut the tomatoes in small pieces. Make sure not to spill that lovely juice.
  • Put the pieces of apple and tomato with the tomato juice in a large heavy pan (stainless steel). Stir in the pectin powder with a wooden spoon. 
  • Add the vanilla, ginger and cardamom.
  • Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
  • Now add the sugar and stir until the sugar is entirely dissolved. Then let the mixture boil at high temperature stirring for 1 more minute, not longer or otherwise you will boil the “set” right out of it. Watch out not to get burned. The fruit will be tender, but still firm.
  • As some tomato varieties contain more liquid that other varieties, you may need to add more pectin to obtain the right firmness. The way we test the right firmness is by keeping a small plate in the freezer for 10 minutes ready to take out when the jam is ready whereupon
    you drip a few drops of jam onto it. When the drops become firm, the jam is ready.
  • In case foam is formed, remove from the heat and stir away from the heat for a little bit longer so that the foam disappears.
  • Ladle the hot jam into the pre-sterilized jars. Try not to spill any jam on the edges, because it's important to work as scrupulously clean as possible! Make sure to leave a little less than a
    centimetre of margin, close it with the lid (use a clean towel to prevent burning your fingers) and let them rest upside down for about 10 minutes (and then back in the normal position).
  • Soon you will hear the popping sound that they will make as the jars seal shut. Allow to cool down for a few hours.
  • Should you have questions or remarks reference the above, please do not hesitate to ask or mention them.

Notes

It is important for this recipe to use tomatoes that have a high flavour and a firm texture. The variety mummy used in her recipe is the “photogenic” GUSTO  tomato by breeder Hazera cultivated by grower Paul Stoffels in Belgium. With Gusto they “strive to bring excellent taste back to the kitchen. Not overly sweet, but a tomato for preparing delicious dishes that create a sense of holiday every day.” Don’t they just look amazing in the photo that I took?

Enjoy!

Yours,

LittleBoy2Be

 

Ps 1. This is not a sponsored post. All opinions provided in this article are strictly those of LittleBoy2Be.com

 

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