The closest I came to tomato harvest glory this year was listening to inspired tales from co-workers about all the different recipes they were trying with their crop of homegrown juicies, and looking out my bathroom window at my neighbour’s verdant pot-planted crop. If I had planted cherry tomatoes in the British summer and received a delightful crop that was ripened by the sun (if only), I would make cherry tomato jam.
My earliest memories of such a jam was when I was a teenager. My dad was given a jar by the wife of a friendly farmer in the Natal Midlands, from whom he’d bought a few specialist foul – Rail Road Red hens or something like that. There was a time when we were kids when our back yard was filled with all kinds of foul – many varieties of chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese…but I digress. The jam was a mystery to me – a teenager who was not that fond of anything that was not apricot or melon, in a South Africa where there didn’t seem to be much variety (or adventure) in the way of shop-bought jams. Although, you might argue that melon jam is pretty adventurous… (I was never fond of red coloured jams because they reminded me of blood.) Anyway, I was about to give this red-coloured jam a go cos I was intrigued, plus it was given to my dad by bona fide white farmer’s wife. I clearly had some strange ideas about the world back then, but that’s what you get from growing up in Apartheid South Africa!
My sister and I polished off the slim jar in a matter of days and begged my grandmother to make us some more. My gran, excellent cook that she was, dug up a recipe she felt could be easily modified and graciously let me use her small harvest of cherry tomatoes. She helped me every step of the way from cleaning the tomatoes to storing in a jar. Can’t remember exactly what we did or where she got the recipe from but it was an absolute disaster. The jam turned out bitter and was completely inedible. Plus, it went off in a few days.
As you could imagine, that experience put me off making jam – I thought, for life. But when a friend was talking about what more she could do with her tomato crop, I thought, hey, wouldn’t it be nice to make some cherry tomato jam?
I have not been able to find a plain cherry tomato jam recipe and will probably have to modify a recipe – will let you know how it goes. By the way, these recipes look really interesting: