Luscious tomato jam, a sweet way to use summer’s tomatoes.

 When I began collecting Spanish recipes, besides jotting down notes on visits to neighbors’ kitchens, I borrowed their hand-written recipe collections and copied them to my notebooks. Some were sketchy directions, written with many misspellings, passed down from a madre or tía-abuela (great-aunt). Others were transcribed from notebooks put out by the Sección Femenina, the women’s section of the Falange party. (This was 1966, under the Franco dictatorship.)

Amongst those recipes was one for mermelada  de tomates, tomato jam. Revelling in a glut of locally-grown tomatoes, I needed to stretch beyond gazpacho and sofrito, so, outlandish as it seemed to me at the time, I made tomato jam.

The original tomato jam recipe called for tomatoes, sugar, cinnamon and cloves. I made it several times and enjoyed it on breakfast toast. I later changed the spicing—cardamom or ginger, basil or mint. Then I added cream and froze the mixture, creating an ice cream so mysterious that my guests couldn’t identify it.

Tomato jam is a good accompaniment to a cheese board. Here it’s served with Brie, a smoked sheep’s milk cheese and cream cheese.

Add cream and turn the jam into ice cream. Your guests might not guess the flavor.

Interesting combo: sweet tomato ice cream and a garnish of salty serrano ham.

Tomato Jam

Mermelada de Tomate

This is not a true preserve, which requires processing in a boiling water bath. Keep it refrigerated and use within four weeks.

Use a blender or food processor to puree the seeded tomatoes to desired consistency—completely smooth or, my preference, with some lumps of tomato for texture.

Serve the jam on toast that has been “buttered” with olive oil. Serve it as an accompaniment to a cheese board, with muffins or plain cake, spooned over fresh fruit or alongside ham croquettes.

Pictured, toast with olive oil, spread with tomato jam and topped with cream cheese and seed crackers with Brie cheese and a dollop of tomato jam.

Blanch and skin tomates.

Makes about 2 ½ cups.

4 pounds ripe tomatoes (14-15 tomatoes)

¼ teaspoon ground cardamom

2 cups sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Cut an X in the blossom end of the tomatoes. Add them to the boiling water just until the skins begin to loosen, about 1 minute. Drain and refresh with cold water. 

Separate seeds.

When the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, slip off the skins and cut out the stem and hard core. Cut the tomatoes in half and scoop the gelatinous seed cells into a strainer placed over a bowl. Place the seeded tomatoes in a large bowl. Press on the seeds to extract as much of the juice as possible. Pour the juice in with the tomatoes. Discard the seeds. 

With a blender or food processor, puree the tomatoes to desired consistency. Place the puree in a heavy pan and add the cardamom, sugar, salt and lemon juice. 

Place the pan on moderate-high heat, stirring, until the mixture begins to bubble. Lower heat so the tomatoes don’t splatter. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are thick, about 45 minutes. As the mixture thickens, stir frequently to prevent the jam from scorching on the bottom. 

Remove from heat and ladle into clean jars. Store the jam refrigerated.

Tomato Ice Cream

Helado de Tomates

I made the ice cream using the tomato jam as described above and decided it was much too sweet. Rather than increase the quantity of cream, I decided it was better to make the jam–or sweetened tomato puree–with less sugar.

Make the tomato jam, as described above, REDUCING THE SUGAR TO 1 CUP.

If desired, the soft-set ice cream can be spooned into individual dessert cups to freeze. You will need freezer space for the cups. 

I garnished the tomato ice cream cups with mint sprigs, but basil or tarragon would be good also. 

Serves 6.

2 cups tomato jam (reduced sugar)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons medium Sherry

3 cups heavy cream

Mint, to garnish

Beat together the jam, vanilla, Sherry and cream. Freeze the mixture in an ice cream maker or in a metal container in the freezer. If freezer-frozen, remove when soft-set and beat it with an immersion blender until creamy and smooth. Return the cream to the freezer to harden.

The cream needs to soften a few minutes before serving. Garnish with mint sprigs.

Tomato ice cream poolside. (Photo by Marina Caviese.)

More tomato recipes: Fifty Ways to Use Your Tomatoes.

Source link