My tomatoes have been magnificent this year. So satisfying to grow, so many ways to cook with them… yummy. As well as preserving some in oil according to Lina’s fantastic recipe from Italy which she shared last year, I’ve given tons away to friends and neighbours, made lots of fresh tomatoes sauce, stuffed peppers and had countless tomato salads.
But I was looking for something new and different to make and had heard about tomato jam a few times. Unable to find a good recipe, I suddenly remembered my Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management – a wedding present to my grandmother in 1929 and beautifully restored and re-bound by David and Maureen Nye – my in-laws. Now that’s mending MIAMI-style.
Anyway, Mrs Beeton came up with something called Tomato Marmalade and I reckoned with the addition of a couple of home-grown chillies as well it would be an interesting thing to try. Here’s how:
Step 1: the recipe
Like so many recipes of their time, Mrs Beeton wastes no space on technique or even precise guidance. Recipes were mostly a list of ingredients you were expected to know how to handle, but the etiquette of managing servants delivered in some detail. How times have changed. So this is an expanded (and slightly adjusted) version of what I found:
2K ripe tomatoes, skinned
2 ripe red chillies, chopped (including seeds)
3 lemons, peeled
2K granulated sugar
250 ml water
Step 2: preparing
A couple of points. Skinning tomatoes is easy. Plunge into boiling water for 40 seconds and then into a bowl of cold water. The skins should split in places so you can just slip them off.
Peeling your lemons. Make sure that you cut off all the white pith as well. This is bitter. The lemons are a very important part of the recipe. They are the setting agent. If you have no lemons, use bottled pectin – about 50 mls.
Step 3: ready to cook
Chop tomatoes roughly, slice the lemons very thinly and roughly chop the chillies into smallish pieces.
Step 4: start cooking
Using a jam pan or large stock-pot, bring the sugar and water to the boil, making sure all the sugar dissolves. When you have a thin syrup on a steady boil, add the other ingredients. Sir frequently and keep removing the scum from the surface with a large slotted spoon. Keep boiling and stirring to reduce the liquid.
Step 5: cooked and bottled
When the marmalade makes an easy jelly when you spoon a little onto a cold plate, the marmalade is ready. It’s a fantastic colour – just gorgeous. Spoon into hot prepared and sterilised jars (see for instructions in case you’re unfamiliar with how to prepare your jam jars for preserves). Seal immediately or wait until cold before sealing.
The marmalade should be delicious with game and salted meats like ham, on toast (why not?), as part of sauce reductions… In fact, let us know what you do with it… I’m still figuring that out. Oh yes, and what great presents to give your friends and family for Christmas. Also, here’s the beautifully re-bound Mrs Beeton’s which Maureen and David gave me for Christmas one year.