AUGUST 24, 2012 UPDATE: I just made this again last night, and I see that I had an incorrect yield in the original recipe. Five pounds of plum tomatoes yields about 4 1/2 to 5 ( 1/2 pint) jars; 10 (4 oz) jars; or 5 (.15 ml Italian jars) of marmalade. I’ve updated the recipe below to include the correct yield! And now, back to the original post…
I am nothing if not impractical. I have plenty of half-pint sized glass jars stacked in my storage room just waiting to be filled. And yet, when I spied the display of Bormioli jars at Sur La Table I couldn’t resist. It is, of course, the words ‘Made in Italy ‘stamped on the lids, that did me in. That and the words ‘Quattro Stagioni’ embossed in lovely loopy script on the glass jars themselves. Never mind that the jars come in metric sizes, and that the lids are not interchangeable with, say, a typical Ball lid. Already I was picturing those fat little jars brimming with tomato marmalade. If I can’t actually make the marmalade in Italy, I figured, at least I could make it in Italian-made jars.
I have had this tomato marmalade recipe kicking around in my head for awhile—a few years, actually. It’s based on one my mom used to make, with sugar, spices, and lemon peel. She used green tomatoes but I wanted to try it with red. I’m not sure why I didn’t get around to making it sooner, but it probably has to do with the fact that canning and I have always had an uneasy relationship.
Bread and butter pickles? No problem. My bread and butter pickles always turn out beautifully, and they have legions of fans (or, at least everyone in my extended family loves them and feels slighted if they don’t get their annual allotment). Jam is a different story. Sometimes I end up with jam, as I did recently when I made a batch of blackberry-apple jam; but more often I end up with syrup, as has been the case with every single batch of blueberry jam I have ever tried to make, no matter how closely I follow instructions.
I am skeptical where preserves are concerned. I am always expecting some sort of disaster—either the jam will not set, or the glass jars aren’t really sterile no matter how long and hard I’ve boiled them, or they will shatter, or I will never, ever hear that telltale ‘ping’ signifying that a jar has sealed properly. What’s more, I am impatient; I am forever poking at the lids once I’ve removed the filled jars from their boiling water bath, forcing the seal and perpetually looking for that one traitorous jar that refuses to behave.
And yet, in spite of my impatient and skeptical and impractical ways, the first batch of tomato marmalade I made turned out exactly as I had envisioned it—glossy and thick, sweet and savory, and bright with the flavor of ripe tomatoes and lemon peel. Every jar sealed. I was so pleased with my endeavor that I made a second batch the next day. It turned out just as good, though this time there was one rogue jar that refused to seal. No matter; we polished that one off first.
copyright 2011 Domenica Marchetti
This is the marmalade of my dreams---thick and shiny and gorgeously red. It tastes of ripe late-season tomatoes and bright lemon, and has a lovely spicy kick from chile peppers, cloves, and fragrant bay leaves. Spread this marmalade on crostini and top with a sharp or pungent cheese. Or spread it on a smoked turkey and cheddar sandwich or a ham biscuit. It also goes well as an accompaniment to roast pork, lamb, or chicken, or even a nice meaty white fish.
- 5 pounds ripe plum tomatoes, washed
- 2 cups sugar
- Juice and peel of 2 large lemons (peel should be cut into strips)
- 1 to 2 tablespoons good balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 8 whole cloves
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 chile peppers, minced
Cut the stem end off the tomatoes. With a vegetable peeler, slice the skin off the tomatoes in strips. Cut them in half lengthwise and push out the seeds with your thumb (I do this over the sink). Cut the tomato halves in half again lengthwise, and then cut each quarter into 3 or 4 pieces. Toss the tomato pieces into a heavy-bottomed non-reactive pot as you go.
Measure the remaining ingredients into the pot with the tomatoes. Set the pot over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Cook at a fairly lively simmer for about 1 1/2 hours or until the marmalade is glossy and thick enough to spread. Be sure to stir often to prevent burning.
Spoon the marmalade into sterilized jars and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. If you don't feel like going through the trouble of processing, store the marmalade in the refrigerator, where it will keep for at least a month.