After that giddy post in mid-August to show off my first harvest, we were hit by an unseasonably cold and rainy spell that put an end to my tomato dreams. The German Greens developed a nasty case of blossom end rot, while the Mr Stripey and Yellow Pears stubbornly refused to give up more than one or two tomatoes at a time. Even the tomato growers at the local farmers market lamented the miserable weather and the havoc it wreaked on their crops. Still, we hoped and prayed that the warm weather would return soon enough to bless us with juicy ripe tomatoes by the bucketload.
Sadly, this wasn't the case. Last week, when it became obvious that summer had left us for good, I finally admitted defeat and picked my tomatoes unripe. All I got for my troubles was a measly pound of green tomatoes, most of them far too small to use for traditional uses like fried green tomatoes or green tomato pie. Sigh.
Thankfully, I stumbled upon a post for an aromatic Green Tomato Jam on Seattle Bon Vivant (a blog I heartily recommend, BTW, though it is updated rather infrequently). While it called for far more tomatoes than my puny little pound, I was able to scale it down without much trouble to produce a mini-batch of jam - just barely over a cup, when all is said and done.
It's a balm for my wounded pride - sweet without being cloying, with a little cardamom and fresh ginger to enhance the subtle spiciness of the green tomatoes and just a hint of lemon.
As they say... if life wrecks your tomato crop, make green tomato jam. At least this way, I can make tomato season last just a teensy bit longer, albeit not quite in the way I'd hoped. Ah well... there's always next year, right?
Green Tomato Jam with Ginger and Cardamom
Adapted (just barely) from Seattle Bon Vivant
4 pounds green tomatoes (2 ½ pounds net)
4 ⅓ cups superfine sugar
Juice (and zest) of two small lemons
6-8 cardamom pods, bruised with the back of a knife
¼ cup fresh ginger, finely minced
Cut tomatoes into wedges. Remove juice, seeds and the white center parts, then roughly chop the remaining tomato flesh.
In a large bowl, combine the tomato pieces, sugar, lemon juice and zest. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight to macerate.
The next day, pour the tomato mixture into a preserving pan together with the cardamom and ginger (if you don't have a preserving pan, a wide heavy-bottomed stainless steel pan will do just as well - I used my big Lagostina saute pan, and it worked a treat). Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour back into the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight once more.
The third day, return the mixture to the preserving pan and bring to a boil, skimming if necessary. Reduce heat to low and continue cooking for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
After 10 minutes, check the set - if it's still quite runny, continue cooking, checking the set every 2-3 minutes until it reaches the proper consistency. Remove the cardamom pods, then pour jam into sterilized jars immediately and seal (or for small batches, just refrigerate).