I’ve been meaning to post this recipe for about 2 years, but somehow it’s never actually happened before now. It’s become a favourite old standby, the only condiment I always have in my fridge, and the recipe I most frequently pass on to friends (usually after rifling extensively through age-old email archives – another excellent reason for sharing it on the web.)
The Boring Bits
- Makes 2 medium jam jars’ worth
- Preparation time: 30-40 minutes
- Cooking time: approx. 1 1/2 hours
- 2 1/4lbs (1kg) ripe tomatoes
- Fresh chili peppers (see below for details)
- 8 cloves of garlic
- 1lb 5oz (600g) Demerera or Turbinado (brown) Sugar
- 4 tbsp (60ml) Nam Pla (Thai fish sauce), Worcester Sauce or Soy Sauce
- 1 cup (235ml) Red Wine Vinegar
You can make quite different jams with different types of chili. For a pretty hot jam (the type I usually make), stick in 4 habaneros, or 4 Scotch Bonnet peppers. You can make a slightly milder jam by using 6-8 standard red chili peppers, or 6-8 jalapenos.
Throwing it all together
First, blanch the tomatoes (bring a pan of water to the boil, remove from heat and place the tomatoes in the water for a minute or two). Then peel them. Chop them into halves or quarters.
Peel the garlic cloves and place them, together with the tomatoes, the Nam Pla (or alternative) and chilis into a blender. Blend on a medium setting until the whole mixture resembles a strawberry milkshake. Yeah, really, it will. It’s a little off-putting, to be honest, but it won’t last for long…
Pour the vinegar and the “strawberry milkshake” mix into a large-ish heavy-bottomed saucepan, and then pour in the sugar – just dump it in; there’s no need to do it in increments.
Bring the whole thing to a boil over a high-ish heat, stirring constantly to completely dissolve the sugar.
Once it comes to the boil, turn the heat to low and leave the jam to simmer. There’s no need to cover the pan (and doing so will likely increase cooking time.)
From now on, stir every 10 minutes or so to keep the mixture from sticking to the sides of the pan.
You need to leave the pan at a simmer until the mixture starts to gain a jam-like consistency. This can be a little difficult to gauge on your first outing, since the jam will be runnier at cooking temperature than at room temperature. It’ll start to look a bit “jammy” even at high heat, though, and stirring it will become more difficult.
Reaching thei “jam stage” usually takes somewhere around an hour and a half, but it can vary up to half an hour either side, depending on the water content of the tomatoes. The eventual amount of jam, similarly, will vary somewhat.
Some Jam Facts/Notes
This recipe should produce about 2 medium jam jars’ worth (I usually buy jars from Sur La Table or Rainbow). It seems to keep pretty well – I’ve had stores in the fridge for 6 months at a time without any noticeable harm (although it usually lasts a month, tops, before it’s all eaten!)
When first cooked the jam tends to be fairly sweet and less spicy – the heat will build up slowly for a week or so after cooking.
It’s fantastic served with cheeses (especially strong, hard cheese like good cheddar, and blue cheeses like Stilton), but also goes great with cold meats like ham. I’m told it works as a glaze for roasted/grilled meats, but haven’t got round to trying that yet.
My favourite use for it is the use which first introduced me to the recipe: Take two slices of toast, melt Stilton over each one, and then spread a thin layer of the jam on top.