This really has been a beautiful, gorgeous, endless summer here in the Pacific NW. While it took us a while to get warmed up, we had a 47-day stretch without a drop of rain which is almost an all-time record here. I feel for the rest of the country, which has been suffering from drought - even with our 47 days, we had such a cold and wet winter (snow days - plural! It's a big deal in Seattle) that we haven't felt the sting. After two cold summers (I remember wearing sweaters in July last year in the middle of the day, sitting out in the sun trying to get warm without turning on the heat indoors), it's been amazing to have something like a regular year. The tomatoes are actually ripening - though the "early girl" and my extra early "st sulpice" didn't start ripening until the first week of September. Now, if the we can just hold on for a few more weeks with some sun, I might see all my tomatoes ripen for the first time - ever? It has to have happened before, only I can't remember that it has.
My first black krim started to blush pink. I picked it and shoved it in the window to finish ripening, in order to let the plant focus on ripening the others. Fingers crossed! It'll be the first purplish tomato I ever managed to ripen in a NW summer. It feels pretty awesome.
Of course, the cherry tomatoes are pumping out fruit like nobody's business. I've been filling a basket with a pound or two at a time: sweet 100, matt's wild cherry, and snow white (which was a new experiment this year and one I'll grow again - it really performs here!). Even the yellow pears are getting going now.
So, with us actually getting a little tired of tomatoes (is such a thing possible?); I thought I'd at least use up the larger tomatoes in a little canning project. Behold, I give you:
my first ever batch of tomato jam! We're back to normal Seattle skies today - grey, misting - so the colour in this photo is a little softer than in real life. This turned a beautiful, rich tomato red. I'm making a second batch now, with my green zebra tomatoes - I didn't want to muddy the colours by mixing the two together. So, perhaps another post later today with a photo of the green!
I used David Leibowitz's recipe on epicurious. Boy is it good! It's thick and sticky, more like a tomato caramel than a jam - and definitely meant for dessert. While the 2 pounds of tomatoes only made 3 little four-ounce jars of tomato jam, that's okay. It'd be easy to make any time of year using store-bought tomatoes, too. I think I'll devote one jar to a dinner party and pair it with the foie gras we brought back from L'isle St. Louis in Paris, on toasts - the tomato jam has a perfect sweet-piquant flavour and could easily stand in for the traditional gelee atop the foie. I think this would also be amazing paired with strong, sharp cheeses on a cracker: Oregon Smokey Blue, or a fresh chevre, an aged cheddar or maybe even a salty aged gouda. It would definitely stand up to double gloucester or cotswold. I also think it could be warmed and drizzled over a creme fraiche ice cream - not that I could eat it, but I bet it'd make a beautiful and unique dessert.
This has been a real eye-opener for me; I'd never tried tomato jam before. I think it's going to have to enter regular rotation around here, because, wow - what an excitingly bold, yet versatile flavour!