Thursday, November 22, 2007

The fall from innocence... (A tomato's tale)

Well, just imagine what you could do with these little bad boys! Aren't they superb all piled up like that? Handfuls and handfuls of ripe cherry tomatoes. And these ones they really smell like tomatoes, and they really taste like tomatoes; not the pale impostors you find on supermarket shops (my local Turkish shop, for its tomatoes and avocados alone, is one of the major plus points of living in Archway).

I feel a little bit guilty actually looking at them there, because here were these fresh ripe fruit, all bright-cheeked and eager. Just look at them!

And then, what did I go and do? I corrupted them, poor loves, with bucketloads of sugar and hot hot heat and bubbled them and boiled them so they were no longer unsullied and innocent, but sticky and broken and all in a heap.

Although, to be fair, they were going to end up meeting their ends via mine or someone else's greedy mouth anyway, so whether drizzled with balsamic, as part of a fresh greek salad or reborn as jam, I don't suppose they really minded anyway.

Yes, that's right, I said jam. And I suspect you might be a little sceptical. Tomato JAM?! You might even be wrinkling your nose up and wondering what the world is coming to.

Well, I saw this recipe in Vogue Entertaining and Travel you see. And it intrigued me. I couldn't work out whether it would be exquisite or grotesque or merely just mediocre. But the colour was superb, and the tomatoes were a bargain, so I thought I'd give it a go.

As it turns out, it's good, very good. But slightly disconcerting. There's lemon and pomegranate syrup in there too (the latter is my addition, the former in the orig.) so it's quite tangy and marmalade-y although not as bitter as a marmalade, not as pickly as a chutney, but not quite as jammy as a jam. So as you eat it you feel a little disorientated, as it won't fit in any gastronomic pigeonhole your tastebuds want to slot it in to.

But it's good on toast, and it's good in sausage sandwiches and it is fabulously red, so I think in the end it was worth it.

Tomato and Lemon Jam

- Chop 900g cherry tomatoes in quarters (I halved them, but then the skins are too big in the jam, so better to quarter I think)

- Put in a heavy-based pan with 1/2 lemon, thinly sliced, the juice of the other half of the lemon, 6 dessertspoons pomegranate molasses and 650g jam sugar.

- Bring to a boil and simmer until it reaches the setting point - to test this you take half a teaspoon of the jam and dot it on a cold plate. After a couple of seconds you push the edge with your finger. If it wrinkles, it's ready; if it's still just liquid keep cooking. For me, this took about two hours.

- Once done, bottle in sterilised jars (thoroughly cleaned old jars, put in a low oven for 10-15 minutes until hot)

- VE&T say it will keep for a couple of months in the fridge, but if the jars are airtight I don't see why it shouldn't keep longer unopened, like most jam.

1 comment:

cook eat FRET said...

that description of the jam is priceless. love it.