This was inspired by Mark Bittman’s recipe in the New York Times back some time ago. We found his version a bit too sweet for us, but liked it enough that I decided to see if I could alter it sufficiently to suit our taste. It’s not like I have a shortage of tomatoes for experimenting.
In order to achieve a truly jam like consistency, you can’t reduce the sugar very much, because sugar is what gives jams and jellies their texture. Without it, this will just end up as a spicy tomato sauce. So instead of reducing the sweetness, I had to counter it a bit with some other flavors. Jalapeños are a natural choice for us, because we have plenty of them this year and we love that spicy-sweet combo. We also have a lot of very hot onions so I decided to use a few of those. And while I used lime juice as the original recipe calls for, I wanted a bit more acidity so I added some cider vinegar as well.
I did reduce the sugar a little, but the reason is that I wanted to add one of my favorite ingredients – Pomegranate Molasses. This stuff is wonderful – sweet and tangy and thick and fruity. You can probably find it in the Middle Eastern foods section of any big grocery store. I ordered it from The American Spice Company. I have been using it in barbecue sauce, quick breads and muffins and I am sure I will find more uses for it as I get into more baking over the winter.
My tweaks resulted in something quite special. It is definitely tomato-ey with some nice tanginess and a spicy jalapeno finish. There is depth and some surprising twists as you get through all the layers of flavor. After tossing down about a half cup each just to get a good taste, we tried it on crackers and on cornbread.
And then, because it reminds me of just a little of a sweet ketchup my Grandmother used to make, last night, we tried it on a burger coated with a spicy rub, served with grilled sweet onions and a local smoked triple milk Amish cheese. Nomity-nom!
- 5 lbs peeled and quartered Roma tomatoes
- 2 medium onions cut in very thin slices
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped
- 6 jalapeños, 4 seeded, 2 with seeds, minced
- 4 inch piece fresh ginger, grated
- 1 lime, juice and shredded peel
- 1½ cup packed dark brown sugar
- ½ cup pomegranate molasses
- ¼ cup cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 4 teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- additional juice of 1 lime
- Combine all ingredients in a 5 quart heavy pan and bring to a boil over medium heat.
- Reduce to a simmer and cook until thick which can take 3 to 4 hours, depending how juicy your tomatoes are. if you are hanging right close by to keep a very close eye on it, you can raise the heat a bit, but be careful because once it starts to get thick it scorch rather quickly.
- Keep stirring at regular intervals to prevent sticking and burning.
- After two hours, I tasted and adjusted the flavors by adding a couple more jalapeños, a little more vinegar and salt – those amounts are reflected in the recipe. You need to adjust to suit your taste, keeping in mind that the flavors will intensify as the jam reduces.
- Taste again at the very end, and add salt and the additional lime juice to taste.
- Store in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks, in the freezer for much longer.
- It can be canned - the same directions you would use for canning salsa will work for this as well - probably best to can in pints or half pints so it gets used up before it goes bad in the fridge after opening.
All in all, a most worthy venture, and one that absolutely bears repeating in years to come.