These really are two separate projects. One edible, one practical. They have nothing to do with each other, except that they both require a boiling water bath and a mason jar or two. So if you have some free time on a weekend, you can kill the proverbial birds with one stone.
So start your boiling water bath (BWB). You can make do with what you have – make a rack out of tin foil to keep the jars off the bottom of the pot – but it really is worth investing in a canner with a rack. Ball even makes a stainless steel canner, though its not cheap. (Hint: Check eBay or Froogle for deals!) Once I fill it with cold water, cover and turn the heat to high, I start both the spoon oil and the tomato jam/other waterbath canned product of your choice.
First, the spoon oil. Taken from FIJ and 3191 Miles Apart. Add a 1/4 lb of beeswax to a mason jar in your canner so that it begins to melt as the water heats. The jar needs to be above the waterline – so having a rack helps here.
Once the beeswax begins to melt, Marisa and Stephanie suggest heating the mineral oil in another jar before adding it to the beeswax. I did, but looking back on it all it really did was dirty another jar. In the next batch, I might just mix them together from the beginning.
I had the hardest time finding mineral oil, until I went to the local pharmacy. Both Walgreens and CVS have it in the back – just ask someone to help you find it before you spend a ton of time hunting. And don’t ask someone at the grocery store, unless you really feel like sending the employee on a wild goose chase.
Anyway, warm the mineral oil alone or with the beeswax, until it forms a lovely clear yellow liquid. Once it cools, you can lay out all of the wooden implements in need of some TLC. As you can see, we had quite a few of them. When its cooled, let a thin coating of spoon oil soak into your wooden stuff for an hour or so (enough time to make and can tomato jam perhaps?) and then rub dry with a kitchen towel.
While the spoon oil is cooling, I start the jam of choice. This time, I wanted to make another batch of tomato jam. Make sure to use a non-reactive pot – I use an enameled dutch oven – whenever you cook tomatoes. I made my first batch with fresh paste tomatoes this summer – tomatoes were crazy here – and then made another batch with frozen heirloom tomatoes from 18th Century Purity Farms purchased at CRFM. In February. Reason #212372191 why I am a farmer’s market junkie.
Adapted from Food in Jars’ Tomato Jam
5 pounds tomatoes, finely chopped – seeds, skins and all!
2 cups dark brown sugar
1 cup pure cane sugar or turbinado sugar
8 tablespoons lime juice (Bottled – Marisa explains why)
2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger – no powder please!
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon red chili flakes
1 tablespoon fresh diced red chile
Combine everything in a non-reactive pot. Cook over low heat – be careful, with all that sugar it will burn! Marisa recommends 1-1 1/2 hours, but I usually end up letting it go around 2 hours. Stir every 10 minutes or so, until it reaches desired consistency. I use equal parts dried and fresh chile – add more if you like more of a kick.
When it is almost ready prepare your jars, lids and rings. When it has cooked down to your liking, remove from heat and fill jars, leaving 1/4 inch of head space. Wipe rims, apply lids and twist on rings. Process in a boiling water canner for 20 minutes. I always have some leftover, which goes into an unprocessed jar in the fridge for me.
After 20 minutes, remove jars from water bath and allow them to cool. Sometimes, I turn the heat off in the canner and let the jars cool in there. When jars are cool enough to handle, test seals. You should be able to pick up a jar by its lid only. Store jars in a cool, dark place for up to one year – if they last that long…
1. Serve with sharp cheese and crackers. Its great to bring to a party, since its most people don’t equate tomatoes with jam. Remember though – its fairly sweet – so pair accordingly.
2. I think it would be equally delicious or in a grilled cheese sandwich with whole grain bread.
3. I might have future plans for it as the base of a tomato, thyme and gruyere tart.