We mostly can stewed ripe tomatoes, which we consider a delicacy during the cold months ahead. Nothing brings to mind the taste of summer like home-canned tomatoes as a base for vegetable soup, or as a more prominent player in plain old macaroni and tomatoes.
But 25 years ago or so, I found a new use for end-of-season tomatoes: tomato jam.
I don’t remember where I first had a taste on a piping-hot, well-buttered cathead biscuit, but I was immediately in love. This isn’t just any tomato jam. It is spiced with cinnamon and clove — and includes crushed pineapple. If I haven’t lost you already, please hear me out.
After all, I shared this recipe with my cousin Phyllis Hunt Manis several years ago, and she won an award for her preparation of it at the Appalachian Fair.
If you don’t think you’d like this on your breakfast biscuit, consider it as a treat to be served with cream cheese and crackers.
I’ve often taken a small jar as a hostess gift, and the most-asked question I hear is “Is it sweet or savory?”
“Both,” I say. “But mostly sweet ... except for the tartness of a tomato chunk.”
After that first taste, I scoured cookbooks for “tomato jam” recipes (this was before the ease of surfing the web). Most were just that: tomato jam. But I began to find variations. I knew it had cinnamon and clove. And pineapple. Ultimately, here is what I came up with:
Award-Winning Tomato Jam
2 cups stewed ripe tomatoes
1 1/2 cups crushed pineapple (with juice)
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 package (1 3/4 ounces) powdered pectin
5 1/2 cups sugar
In a large cook pot mix tomatoes and next seven ingredients (everything but the sugar).
Bring to a boil while stirring. Add sugar and continue to stir until mixture reaches a full rolling boil. Stirring constantly, boil one minute. Remove from heat and continue stirring and skimming foam from top for five minutes. Pour into prepared canning jars and seal.
(Yield: 4 pints).
I enjoy this on biscuits, toast, and crackers and cream cheese — and I’ve even been known to spread a bit on a turkey, chicken or ham sandwich.