As the days start to get cooler and the leaves on the trees start to turn yellow, one of the few things that tend to stay green is the tomatoes that remain on the vines in the garden. This year we had a bumper crop of tomatoes that provided a bunch of great meals all summer, especially once the heat of summer came about. Once the weather starts turning cool though, the tomato vines keep putting on fruit, but without those hot summer days to turn them red most of these green tomatoes will end up going to waste.
We aren’t big fans of that southern favorite fried green tomatoes, so the past few years we have given a few away to friends then dumped the rest into the compost and called it a day. This fall however was going to be different after having a green tomato preserve at the bed and breakfast we stayed at last year in Napa. The preserve we had was a rich golden color, an intriguing combination of tart and sweet with a flavor reminiscent of tomatoes and citrus. It was a great spread on toast and made us decide that this years crop of green tomatoes were not going to go to waste!
We were searching for a recipe for tomato sauce in an old Italian cookbook when we ran across this recipe for a green tomato jam. The recipe called for a base of honey and sugar to make a rich golden base, but since we didn’t have enough honey, we substituted in some brown sugar, which ended up making the base rich and caramely. Fresh squeezed lemon juice and lemon zest give a fresh citrus bust that balances out the sweetness of the sugar base and brings the tartness of the tomatoes out. Use this as a spread on toast, a compote with a cheese tray, or as a complimentary topping for a crostini. Try this recipe and you might just find yourself looking forward to those fall days where the tomatoes stay green!
- 6-8 medium green tomatoes
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 2 cups sugar
- 1/4th cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- fresh lemon zest.
- Rough chop the tomatoes and place into a non reactive sauce pan.
- Add the salt, sugar and lemon juice to the pan and place the pan over medium heat.
- Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring all the while to help break down the tomatoes and fully mix the ingredients.
- Once at a boil, reduce heat to a medium low, allowing the mixture to simmer for 35-40 minutes, stirring regularly to keep the mixture from scorching.
- With about 5 minutes left on the simmer, add in the vanilla and lemon zest, stirring until fully incorporated.
- Pour the hot mixture into a strainer and remove the seeds and skins from the mixture.
- Place the strained mixture into mason jar and allow to cool.
- Will keep in the refrigerator for 1 week.