Monday, January 6, 2020

Tomato and candied ginger jam

Ta-da, and welcome to my very successful attempt to bring the warm days of summer straight up into the dead of winter via tomato jam. 

Most folks don’t think of tomatoes as being good candidates for jam, but these are after all berries—we’re just used to finding them in savory dishes, is all. 

You certainly can use fresh tomatoes here, but good canned tomatoes are a couple million times easier, since then you won’t need to peel them. Plus, a really tasty canned tomato will be full-flavored, so most of the guesswork will be tossed out of the equation, too. 

In my recent experiments with this suddenly beloved ingredient, I’ve come to rely on the excellent canned tomatoes of Europe (Italy, really) that have nothing added—no salt, no water, no basil, no nothing. Most of the seeds have somehow been magically eliminated, too, which makes me even happier.

Instant summer
I’ve given this brilliantly red jam a really good spectrum of flavors with candied ginger for heat, fresh lemon juice and zest for tartness, honey for sweetness, and just a dash of salt to round these all out. You can pull this together from start to finish in around half an hour, and it really is delicious.

This is excellent with cheese and crackers or in toasted cheese sandwiches or on cold chicken. 

Tomato and candied ginger jam
Fānqié jiāngtáng guŏjiàng  番茄薑糖果醬
Makes about 2½ cups | 600 ml

2 (400 g) cans peeled tomatoes, preferably European
8 ounces | 225 g (about ⅔ cup) honey
Zest and strained juice of 1 lemon
2 ounces | 55 g candied ginger, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground ginger
⅛ teaspoon sea salt

Half the fun lies in smooshing the tomatoes
1. Dump the tomatoes and all their juices into a tall 4 quart | 4 liter saucepan. Use your hand to squish the tomatoes into submission—they don’t have to be totally mashed up, as some larger chunks add a nice bit of texture to the final jam. 

2. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir this pretty much constantly over medium-high heat for about 20 to 25 minutes, until the tomatoes are reduced to a thick, glossy, syrupy, bright red goo. If you’re using a thermometer, the mixture should reach about 220°F | 105°C.

3. Remove the pan from the heat, cool it down to room temperature, transfer to a closed container, and refrigerate. This freezes well if you don’t plan to use it up quickly. 

Thanks to Greatest Tomatoes from Europe for the sample cans!