Island Dish: Tomato Jam

An amazing gift from my good friend Sandy Shams, owner of Alexander’s Coffee. Hoping your garden is still producing in early September!

Tomatoes are abundant this time of year; whether they come from your own garden or from the market we all love them. Every once in a while though, you get a tasteless batch; they get overripe before you can use them, or you just plain have too many!

So what are you going to do with them? It’s a tragedy to let them go past the point of no return, so it’s at this stage that I bag them up and freeze them until I have a enough to fill a baking pan, and then I make TOMATO JAM!

Sure, we could make tomato sauce, or stew them or make some other ordinary preparation, but I assure you if you make this, you’ll never go back.

What is tomato jam? It’s a thick, intensely tomato-flavoured condiment that is delicious enough to spread on your favourite burger (you’ll never use ketchup again), serve up on a fresh baguette or toast point with cheese, toss into pasta with some fresh parmesan shavings, add to your homemade soup to elevate it to a whole new level, or simply eat it all by itself right out of the jar. It should come with a warning on the label: “highly addictive.”

Here’s how!

Set your oven to 400°.
 Line a roasting pan with a few layers of tin foil and parchment paper as well (trust me on this: it gets juicy and messy).

Toss your tomatoes into the pan; whole or chopped, they’ll break down as they cook so no need to chop if they’re frozen whole. Drizzle with a little olive oil. Add approximately one medium peeled and roughly chopped onion, lots of fresh chopped garlic (eight to 10 cloves), a good sprinkle of Himalayan pink salt, fresh ground pepper, and generous splashes of balsamic vinegar (this adds a real depth of flavour as it reduces).

Bake uncovered for approximately one hour at 400° to develop some deep colour and caramelization. Stir every 30 minutes, mushing any whole tomatoes with a spoon as you stir. Then reduce the oven to 300°, continuing to stir and breaking up the tomatoes about every 20 minutes. Bake until all the liquid from the tomatoes is fully evaporated and the tomatoes are a thick, deep red mush. This will take about two to three hours if you have a full pan of tomatoes. Adjust seasonings: add more salt and pepper if needed. Cool slightly. Transfer to clean jars.

This will keep refrigerated for several weeks. If you want to preserve it longer, freeze in Ziplocs® or seal in Mason jars.

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