In 2012 this recipe for Tomato Jam, Good needs to be made on a weekend when there are five hours available. In 1906 when the Berlin Cook Book was published it was probably made during a weekday when a woman at home with children at school might be able to spare the time to make this jam while taking care of other household tasks. No one is associated with this recipe so it is hard to know what sort of family used this recipe. Although I’ve never before made tomato jam, I have seen one or two turn of the century recipes for this unusual type of jam.
I started by peeling the tomatoes. Seven large tomatoes weighed four pounds and I thought I had some nice tomatoes but they proved to be somewhat mealy and not very red inside. This made them difficult to peel and it took me almost half an hour to peel and chop the tomatoes. Then they needed to cook until tender. I put them in a large covered saucepan on low to medium heat and kept checking and stirring every ten minutes to ensure they didn’t burn. It took almost half an hour for these particular tomatoes to be soft enough to be called tender.
Once the tomatoes were cooked I weighed the brown sugar and found that 6 cups loose equaled two pounds. Next I added two cups (1 pint) of plain white vinegar and two tablespoons of ordinary salt. I put a pinch of whole cloves into a cheese cloth bag and added 3 sticks of cinnamon as a guess since I have no idea the size of a “5 cent bunch of stick cinnamon”. I left it to simmer on low for the next four hours without a lid. Four hours? It is going to be a long evening since I want to check on the jam and give it a stir every half hour to ensure it is not burning.
After two hours the jam has started to thicken a bit and there is a spicy smell in the air. I didn’t need to worry about the pale flesh of the tomatoes as the jam darkened with the brown sugar and spices. There were still some chunks of tomato and I wondered if I should have cut the pieces smaller at the start. At the three-hour point I decided to taste the jam. It was very difficult to bring the spoon to my lips as I still expected a strong tomato taste. Instead it was an interesting flavour. There wasn’t any harshness of tomato or vinegar and yet it wasn’t cloyingly sweet either. I’m very curious what it will be like at the end of four hours of cooking.
After four hours of cooking I quickly canned the jam and left some to cool for sampling later. The flavour didn’t change much after four hours of cooking but the volume of jam was reduced. I’m not sure how to describe the taste of Tomato Jam. At first I thought “sweet ketchup” but it doesn’t have as much tomato flavour as ketchup. It isn’t chilli sauce or chutney either since it is missing onion or other vegetable flavours. I suppose it is simply “tomato jam” and yet unlike regular fruit jams it has the acidity of the vinegar. How to use it? Well, it would go nicely with meat or perhaps in a sandwich with meat or cheese. I wouldn’t use it on my toast. Is it worth making? Well, if you are looking for something different this could be it. It is relatively easy to make so try putting it up in small canning jars and sharing with friends. Someone is bound to find the perfect use for Tomato Jam after all the contributor thought it was good.
TOMATO JAM, GOOD
Peel and cook 4 pounds of ripe tomatoes until tender, add 2 pounds of brown sugar, 1 pint of vinegar, 2 tablespoons salt, place a few whole cloves in a small cloth and a 5 cent bunch of stick cinnamon, let all simmer 4 hours, when done take out cloves and cinnamon, bottle and seal tightly.