Friday, July 9, 2010

Teaching a Tomato Canning Class...

Big excitement! I have been asked to substitute teach a tomato canning class at our local food coop’s learning center! After the initial panic – how would I put together a lesson plan? what recipes would I use? what sort of equipment do they have in their kitchen? – I settled into the business of actually putting it together. First, what recipes…well obviously plain, canned tomatoes, then perhaps a nice marinara sauce and last…hmmm…I know tomato jam!

Just to be on top of things, I brewed up a batch of canned tomatoes so that I could time myself and to streamline my operation…it’s one thing to be a bit frenetic in your own kitchen while cooking – digging for the ladle, say, at the moment you need it rather than having all your tools laying out, organized and ready…30 minutes, okay I could move a novice group through that in an hour…next the marinara sauce. A girlfriend shared her wonderful family recipe for what I think is over the top sauce and although I want to show this to the class I decided that due to the fact it needs to cook down for quite a while, and the class is, after all only 3 hours, I would need to simply demonstrate this recipe rather than have the whole class participate. Then the jam…I have tasted some really out of this world tomato jam, but I don’t have a recipe of my own that I
could just go to.
Thus started the tomato jam experiment! Nothing like reinventing the wheel…under pressure…I looked up about a billion recipes and I’ve got to say some were pretty odd. When you think tomato jam do you think vanilla for example? Or some just had too many spices that didn’t seem to fit. I wanted a ‘better than catsup’ sort of jam. Sweet, but not too; vinegar tangy, but not pucker-y; a bit complex, but not complicated. I put some ideas together and brewed up a batch…nope, too much like chutney and too dry. Back to the drawing board. Based on my first experiment, I made adjustments and tried it again…now we’re talkin’…below is the recipe I came up with for tomato jam…I will say that the next time I make this recipe it think I will increase the vinegar by about ¼ cup to give it just a little more zip, but give this one a try, it has nice balance with just a light tang of vinegar…

Tomato Jam

Recipe for 4 – ½ pintjars


4 lbs - Tomatoes, coarsely chopped

2 Cups - Granulated Sugar

¾ Cup – Brown Sugar

¾ Cup – Cider Vinegar

1 Whole Medium Onion, chopped medium/fine

1 ½ tsp. – Salt

½ tsp – Ground Allspice

1. Prepare jars & lids

2. Drop tomatoes into boiling water for 30 seconds, then into ice water

3. Peel and core tomatoes, cut as noted above

4. Put all ingredients in a 3 quart sauce pan.

5. Bring to a gentle boil

6. Cook at gentle boil until thickened, aprox. 40 minutes

7. Fill jars with hot jam, leaving ½” head space

8. Remove air bubbles

9. Wipe edge of can with clean damp towel

10. Put lid on jar and finger tighten ring on jar

11. Process ½ pint jars for 15 minutes

Let me say you may need to crack open a jar and have some on a nice piece of crusty toast with a glass of wine as soon as things are cool…a reward for a job well done!

1 comment:

  1. really looking forward to our garden tomatoes and your recipes!!!! No tomatoes yet, but now that we have sun my hopes are up