Oh August, I have a love/hate relationship with you. You still throw out incredibly hot temperatures causing me to do outdoor projects only in the early morning and late afternoon. Yet on the other hand, you provide something that causes me to do my happy dance. Why am I happy? The simple answer is, the heirloom tomatoes are ready for harvesting!
So this month, my kitchen never really cools down. It seems that there is always a preserving pan on the stove and another one full of boiling water ready to sterilize my canning equipment. Though this year, there is a little more free room on the stove as I have moved onto an electric water bath canner.
With my ample supply of tomatoes, I usually start making marinara sauce. Then there is salsa and pretty containers of sun dried tomatoes packed in olive oil. Those are my tried and true jarred tomato favorites.
But this year, I was in the mood to try something different. They say variety is the spice of life, so what better way to express that than to attempt a new recipe? So with a little uncertainty, I tried my hand at Tomato Basil Jam!
Now you can make this recipe with any sort of fresh tomatoes, but I admit that I am partial to heirlooms. I tend to use a variety to provide a more complex flavor and the batch included: Black Krim, Cherokee Purple, Amish Paste, and Arkansas Traveler.
I adapted a recipe from the National Center for Home Food Preservation.
Tomato Basil Jam
- 3 pounds of tomatoes
- 1/3 C. fresh lemon juice
- 3 C. sugar
- 3 Tbl. Ball® Real Fruit Pectin, powder
- 3 Tbl. fresh basil, chiffonade
- 1/2 C. water
Wash and core tomatoes. Place into boiling water for approximately 5 minutes. Remove from water and plunge them into ice water. The skin should now peel easily. I also remove the gel and seeds as those can have a bitter taste. The cored, skinned, and seeded tomatoes will be approximately 3 1/2 cups.
Place tomatoes in a heavy-bottomed preserving pan over medium heat. Allow tomatoes to simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in lemon juice and basil.
Mix pectin with 1/2 cup of sugar in a small bowl. Stir to combine. Add this mixture to the tomatoes and stir thoroughly to incorporate. Tomato mixture will now thicken quickly. Add water and remaining sugar. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly so the mixture will not burn or stick to the bottom of the pan. Allow to boil for 2 minutes and then remove from heat. Skim off any foam that formed on top of the jam. (The foam will be a light pink color.)
Spoon into 1/2 pint jars, leaving approximately 1/4″ headspace. Place lid and rim on each jar and process the jam in a water bath.
NOTE: sterilize jars, rims, lids, and any other tools such as funnel and spoon.
The processing time will vary based on your elevation. Sea level to 1,000′ is 5 minutes. 1,001 – 6,000′ is 10 minutes and elevations over 6,000′, processing time is 15 minutes.
Carefully remove jars from water bath canner at the appointed time and place the hot jars on a towel. As the jars cool, the lids will seal. This act of sealing creates a ‘popping’ noise. (I typically count the number of ‘pops’ which lets me know how many jars sealed.)
The resulting jam is beautiful. It is a luscious red punctuated with fleck of green, the colors reminiscent of a summer garden. Imagine serving this on a good crusty bread, or spread it across a slice of fresh mozzarella? What a great way to liven up a winter meal.