Tomato Jam

Last April, Kirk and I went to Mexico for our fifteenth anniversary. We made our way across the Yucatan Peninsula by car and ate wonderful, local food the whole time. One culinary highlight was found at breakfast at Playa Mambo, an eco-hotel on the beach in Tulum. The view didn't hurt, either:

Anything would taste good on this beautiful beach, but the food could stand alone, too. Perfect orange juice (the likes of which is impossible to duplicate without being able to grow them in the garden, I think), excellent coffee, fresh eggs, and homemade tomato jam on thick, yummy toast.

¡Mermelada de tomate! How to describe it? It's sweet and kind of savory at the same time. The savory flavor comes in part from the seeds, which were left in the jam we had in Mexico. They add a little bit of a nutty flavor, which is really nice. 

Lots of internet recipes (the ones in English, anyway) for tomato jam have jalapeños and spices and all kinds of things that were definitely not in the jam we were served in Tulum. So Kirk made his own, and it is super simple:

Tomato Jam
2 pounds chopped tomatoes 
1 1/2 cup sugar
a dash of salt
optional: squeeze of juice from half a lemon

Mix sugar into chopped tomatoes (and lemon juice, which we didn't use, but shows up in the Spanish recetas I looked up after the fact) in a saucepot and bring to a boil, then cook on medium heat until tomatoes cook all the way down into a jelly-like consistency. You have to watch it and stir it so it doesn't burn, which would be kind of tragic. Then you can it in a hot water bath, or just let it cool and eat it up right away.

The beauty of this recipe is that it really lets the tomato flavor shine through, which is the whole point. As you can see above, Kirk made two batches. The big jar on the left was made with Sungold cherry tomatoes, which are very sweet already. (This is a great way of using up giant bowls of cherry tomatoes before the fruit flies get to them.) I like this kind the best, by the way. The jar on the right was made with Roma tomatoes, which aren't quite as sweet, but have a very strong tomato flavor. 

Either way, it's delicious for breakfast. Here I am enjoying it on a bacon-cheddar-chive scone from the Buttermilk Bakery, which is an outstanding combination. The next time you have a pile of tomatoes to get through before they go bad — or access to some such pile from the farmer's market — give it a try!


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