Green tomato jam

First of October. Grey skies. The earth damp from yesterday’s showers, scattered, then persistent. Today the air is mild, the nebulous cover a moderating blanket. The weather turned ten days ago, right on cue at the equinox.

Transitional moments are a catalyst for cooking inspiration. Holding on to the waning season, devising some last ways with the summer produce, while simultaneously grasping the novelty of autumn.

And few things embody this transition quite like green tomatoes, straddling the divide.

I remember just one person in my childhood who made green tomato jam, my father’s godmother Lily (from her I also have my favourite recipe for clafoutis, and an early fixation on quince in the form of cotignac). I never got Lily’s green tomato jam recipe, but the memory remains, and this method works very well.

Green tomato jam based on a recipe by Christine Ferber
The recipe takes three days, which sounds complicated, but in fact the process is broken down into three brief, manageable slots that fit easily into each the day.

1 kg green tomatoes
850g sugar
2 lemons
Optional: a pinch chilli flakes or a vanilla bean

Day 1: Wash and thinly slice the tomatoes. Add the sugar, the juice from one lemon, and the other lemon very thinly sliced by first cutting into quarters or sixths and then crosswise. If using, add the chilli flakes or vanilla bean cut lengthwise. Stir to combine and leave to macerate overnight at room temperature.

Day 2: Bring the tomato/sugar/lemon mixture to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes, skimming away any scum that may form. Let cool and place in the refrigerator overnight.

Day 3: Bring the jam to a lively simmer once again for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, sterilize a few jars in boiling water (this quantity yields just 3 to 4 jars), fill with hot jam, and seal immediately.

See also Green Tomato Chutney

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