What to do with all those yellow pear tomatoes of summer? Make Jam! This one is based on the old fashioned spiced tomato jelly recipes made in home kitchens for years.
My Mom got me hooked on it several years ago when she reminisced about my Grandmother’s tomato jelly from her childhood. The basic recipe involves peeling and cooking down several pounds of fresh tomatoes and then adding pectin, cinnamon, cloves and sugar to make the jelly.
Processing that much jelly at one time can be a daunting hot summer chore, so I’ve made a small batch Yellow Tomato Jam that cuts down on the work, but delivers heirloom flavor!
If have a bounty of tomatoes and you are making larger batches, simply multiply the measurements accordingly. Keep in mind this method is higher in natural pectin than other tomato jams (the peel and seed first, then cook method) and you may not need as much thickener (pectin or starch).
I recommend using a piece of stick cinnamon if you have it in your pantry. My Aunt has described how she loved to dig it out of the jar and eat it, a summer delicacy. It is delicious, and the longer you leave it in the jam, the better.
Try experimenting with other spices. Whole star anise, split cardamom pods, peppercorns or whole dried hot peppers stewed with the tomatoes offer a lovely variety of flavor. If you don’t have whole spices, try toasting ground spices like ginger, clove or coriander or a spice mix like curry or garam masala before adding to your jam with the sugar.
To see more jelly and jam recipes click the menu in the upper left corner and use the search engine, or browse The Farmer’s Market and In The Garden categories.
Heirloom Yellow Tomato Jam
3-4 cups of Yellow Pear tomatoes, whole
Several whole fresh basil, mint or tarragon leaves
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
¼ teaspoon salt
2/3 cup granulated sugar
Small piece of cinnamon stick (or ¼ teaspoon ground)
2 whole cloves (or 1/8 teaspoon ground)
1 teaspoon Powdered Fruit Pectin (or 1 tablespoon potato starch, tapioca starch or arrowroot powder)
1 half pint (8 ounce) jar with lid (clean & sanitize in dishwasher)
Place tomatoes, basil, lemon juice, lemon zest and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 10 minutes, breaking up the tomatoes with the back of your spoon. Remove from heat, let sit until cool enough to handle.
Pour whole mixture through a strainer set over a bowl. Push on the tomatoes to get all the liquid out. Discard contents of strainer.
Pour the liquid back into the sauce pan and add the sugar, cinnamon and cloves. Cook over low/medium heat until mixture is slightly bubbling and sugar is fully dissolved. Stir in the pectin, and bring the mixture to a full rolling boil while stirring. Boil vigorously while carefully stirring for one whole minute. Turn off heat.
Carefully spoon the jam into a half pint jar, or two 4 ounce jars. Leave ¼ inch space from the top. Leave the cinnamon stick in, if desired. Remove the clove if you used whole clove. Wipe rim of the jar off with a clean damp paper towel and seal with lid, turning until just barely fingertip tight.
Let cool completely at room temperature for 24 hours. Label and date the jar. If you used cinnamon stick and leave it in, make note that the cinnamon stick is in the jam on the label.
Store jam in the refrigerator or freezer until ready to serve (up to 1 week in refrigerator, 6 months in the freezer). You could also process the jam using the hot water bath canning method. If a proper seal is established, it will keep on the shelf for up to one year.
When opening any canned food products, even store bought, always inspect the jar (for cracks, chips or a broken seal). In the event of chips or cracks in the glass, do not eat the product and throw it away.
Also inspect the food in the jar. While you obviously cannot always tell if a food product is safe by smell and appearance, follow the old rule “if in doubt, throw it out.”
My favorite uses for this jam are to stir it into Yogurt
Or as a topping for ice cream or Cheesecake
Growing Yellow Pear Tomatoes
One of these things is not like the others! I love how “the one that grew apart” illustrates how this variety grows and matures.
Yellow Pear tomatoes are an heirloom variety thought to have first been grown in 1700s England. They are currently grown in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History Heirloom Garden in Washington, DC.
This is a great variety for the home gardener. It is very prolific, sweet and a quick ripening tomato. Plant it deep and give it plenty of room to ramble with a high cage, or against a trellis. Water consistently, especially in drought conditions, so it will yield a soft skin not prone to splitting.
I like to grow this variety on my deck to keep the deer at bay. I position the planters in front of the deck railing. When the plants outgrow their support, I simply drape their tops over the railing.