Tag Archives: tomato

Balsamic Tomato Basil Jam

As you recall I made a tomato jam earlier in the summer. It was glorious, I mean, honestly, on a sandwich, it almost made me cry. I also made a port-balsamic jelly which was pretty good. Naturally this got me to thinking about more balsamic recipes and more tomato recipes.

Then my Mom found and made this recipe. It tasted amazing. But I thought it could be more vinegar-y and more basil-y. So I played around and came up with this version. It’s a whisper more savory than the other recipe I posted before. I like this one better, simply because of the vinegar taste. I love vinegar.

The summer of glorious tomatoes. My inner canner is so stoked.

The summer of glorious tomatoes. My inner canner is so stoked.

Balsamic Tomato Basil Jam

  • 3 cups peeled and chopped tomatoes (I leave the skins and seeds in, I worked hard to grow my tomatoes and I like the texture)
  • 1/2 cups good balsamic vinegar (I recommend Lucero brand)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 3 teaspoons finely minced garlic (I used fresh, but the stuff in the jar works great too)
  • 1/4 cup finely minced onion (we’ve made it with and without, both are good)
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons Ball classic pectin
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
One of my favorite smells. Fresh basil.

One of my favorite smells. Fresh basil.

Put the first 9 ingredients in a large heavy bottomed saucepan, and stir well.

Place over high heat and bring to a rolling boil. Mix in the sugar. When the full rolling boil takes place again, start timing and cook jam for 6 minutes.



Remove from heat, stir in basil and fill jars. Process jars in boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

This is fabulous on sandwiches, over cream cheese, on toast, straight from the jar. I’m probably going to make a few more batches to give as gifts, it’s that good.

Probably my second favorite jam of this season (the first is jalapeno).

Probably my second favorite jam of this season (the first is jalapeno).


Filed under Ag, agriculture, food, Know a California Farmer, photos, Ranch life, Recipe, Uncategorized

Tomato Basil Jam

My little garden is kicking some serious garden butt. Now that the deer leave it alone, my green thumb finally has a chance to be green, and it feels good man. Even though I cannot stand fresh tomatoes (go here to read why), I still feel a sense of duty to plant them. I mean, come on, what kind of summer garden doesn’t have a couple tomato plants? Plus they remind me of my Papa.

Anyway, I have so many tomatoes I had to find something to do with them other than make salsa and feed them to Silly pig. Since I am in the middle of my canning obsession, it’s only natural I canned them. I found a recipe that I would actually eat – and out to the garden I went (I love having a garden)!

Fresh tomatoes and basil.  The smell of summer.

Fresh tomatoes and basil. The smell of summer.

Tomato-Basil Jam

from Better Homes and Gardens

2 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes, peeled  (I didn’t peel mine because, well, why? I wanted the texture.)

1/4 cup lemon juice

3 cups sugar

3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

1 package powdered fruit pectin or 6 tablespoons powdered fruit pectin

Seed, core and finely chop the tomatoes. They should equal 3 1/2 cups. Place in heavy bottomed pot. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Measure 3 1/3 cups tomatoes, return to the pot. Stir in lemon juice and basil.

My seeded, chopped, tomatoes, with the skins on, oops.

My seeded, chopped, tomatoes, with the skins on. And chop your tomatoes a whisper finer than this.

In a small bowl combine 1/4 cup of the sugar and the pectin; stir into the tomato mixture. Bring to a full roiling boil, stirring constantly. Stir in the remaining 2 3/4 cups sugar. Return to a full boil, stirring constantly. Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and skim any foam off.

I wish we could share smell via the Internets, because this smelled like a big cup of summer, yum.

I wish we could share smell via the Internets, because this smelled like a big cup of summer, yum.

Ladle hot jam into hot sterilized half-pint canning jars. Leave 1/4 inch headspace. Adjust lids.

Process jars in a boiling-water canner for 10 minutes.

I was trying to think ahead with this recipe. I was thinking about the winter, and the rain and how yummy this jam would be on grilled cheese with some soup. It was pretty yummy on regular toast too.

I was trying to think ahead with this recipe. I was thinking about the winter, and the rain and how yummy this jam would be on grilled cheese with some soup. It was pretty yummy on regular toast too.

A few more resources for you:

Tomato Jam (it has apple!) – http://userealbutter.com/2012/09/09/jennies-tomato-jam-recipe/

More information about breeding tomatoes – http://monsantoblog.com/2012/08/10/an-afternoon-with-meg-doug-the-tomato-dude/

An old family recipe – http://www.gratefulprayerthankfulheart.com/2013/04/grandmom-gaskills-tomato-jam.html

More about Monsanto – http://www.lenejohansen.com/?p=863

Food in Jars! – http://foodinjars.com/2010/09/tomato-jam/


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Field Trip: Monsanto and Tomatoes

Tomatoes have a special place in my heart. I’m not a huge fan of the actual fruit anymore (the reason why is coming up), but I love all things derived from tomatoes – sauces, salsas, ketchup. And I love to grow the plant. I think I love them because one of my most cherished childhood memories is about garden fresh tomatoes. My grandfather, or Papa, had a pretty amazing green thumb; his garden remains legendary in my mind.

Pretty heirlooms!

When I was little, it was a big deal to spend the night at my town Grandparents. Grandma and Papa spoiled us with Mickey Mouse shaped pancakes in the morning and cable (we didn’t get more than four channels until I was in high school, country livin!). After dinner, it was a big deal for Papa and me to head out to his garden to water, harvest his vegetables and pick tomato worms.

As little five-year old me was searching for those awful tomato worms, I remember telling Papa that I didn’t like tomatoes because “they were gross”. At some point during my little life I must have eaten off-season, store tomatoes and decided all tomatoes were like that. Papa gently picked some ripe cherry tomatoes off his vines and told me to eat one. Surprisingly, I did. And it was glorious. I remember shoving those little jewels in my mouth as fast as I could, being totally surprised at the sweet, warm burst in my mouth, it was like candy. I did that until I threw up. What can I say; I’ve never been good with moderation.

Every time I see a tomato plant, I remember my Papa and his warm cherry tomatoes. It’s a very happy memory. I think that memory is why my favorite part of my Monsanto tour was learning about tomatoes.

The tomato rows at Monsanto's farm. I wanted to frolic through them. But I restrained myself. Barely

The tomato rows at Monsanto’s farm. I wanted to frolic through them. But I restrained myself. Barely.

My field trip to Monsanto left me overwhelmed, I think I caught a really bad case of agnerditis while I was there. Monsanto was fascinating, it was like taking a plant science, a sociology, and a economics class all in one day. I loved it! Unfortunately, I have a mild case of writer’s block when it comes to writing about our day there, I learned so much! However, I am fighting it! Because I think it is important to talk about GMO’s, technology and Monsanto with an open mind.

Talking plant breeding with the actual plant breeders. No big deal or anything. Nope, not at all.

Learning about tomato breeding from actual tomato breeders! Nope, not a big deal. Not at all. (OMG IT WAS SO COOL)

Doug the Tomato Dude was our tour guide for the tomato portion of our tour. He was passionate about his tomatoes! By the time he left us, I wanted to start researching tomatoes too. He made it sound so interesting, and it is! He told us his passion for growing things came early (something I totally identify with), he grew garden peas as a kid. His fresh garden peas tasted nothing like canned peas – and there you go – inspiration comes from the simplest things!

Learning from the master....

Learning from the expert!

Doug is working on a breeding project where he is using various naturally-occurring genes to improve heirloom tomatoes! He explained that there are three natural color mutations in the heirloom realm, tiger stripe, purple and a bi-color (like Rainbow). Working with these three mutations he can breed tomatoes with different levels of acidity, sugars, and volatiles (what you smell) . Something for everyone!

Doug’s goal is to make tomatoes that taste as good or better than existing heirlooms while having the level of fruit setting and disease resistance of modern tomatoes. And he wants to find ways so we can have heirloom quality taste much longer than the current seasonal window. In addition to making tomatoes taste better for us consumers he is also using tools from his genetic toolbox to help the farmer by eliminating cracking in the fruit (less waste!) and increased setting of the fruit (more product with less resources!). Doug is using genetic material that is over 60 years old along with some of the new great things he’s found! I think it is amazing that Doug and Monsanto are keeping these old genes alive and in production. Notice that is something you never hear about from the media. This germplasm dates back many decades and is responsible for long-time home garden favorites such as Better Boy, Big Boy, and Early Girl. By combining the past and the present some great things can happen that both preserve flavor for the consumer and add value to the grower.

Grow babies, grow!

Grow babies, grow!

Doug’s tomatoes are fresh market tomatoes, you know, the tomatoes you buy at the store. As I mentioned above, I think many of us are scarred from the tasteless, pretty tomatoes that dominated the store shelves for years. But Doug is changing that! Doug wants to see more heirlooms on the shelves; he wants more variety, more diversity so consumers can have a choice. (Isn’t that just music to your foodie ears? It was to mine!)

Doug mentioned that he loves to eat his own tomatoes, and his family does too. In fact he said he was making his family BLT’s with seedless tomatoes that very night for dinner doesn’t that sound fabulous?

Look at the pretty heirlooms!

More heirlooms, so pretty!!!

The most exciting thing I learned during this portion of my tour was about the seedless tomatoes that have been developed, the Sweet Seedless. My Grandma has diverticulitis, so foods with little seeds, (like tomatoes), hurt her, she actually cannot eat them. This is unfortunate for people like my Grandma, because it can affect her nutrition. I plan on going to over to my Grandma’s house next spring and planting some Sweet Seedless in Papa’s old garden plot, so my Grandma can eat something she loves again. I think my Papa would be super proud of me.

Meeting Doug the Tomato Dude and learning about his work in tomatoes was marvelous. Being an animal science person, it is wonderful for me to learn more about plant science. I was able to make the connection in my head that like cattle, plants often benefit from different breeding techniques. These techniques and technologies are changing agriculture for us farmers and ranchers in the best possible way – we can produce more with less, we can increase the nutritional content of some foods, we can increase diversity, and we can give our consumers more choice! What an amazing time to be involved in agriculture!

If you want to learn more about this I highly recommend checking this blog out http://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=7076455123022001652&postID=5115683617599271132. Dr. Folta is one of my favorite experts.

*Also thank you to Janice Person for a couple of the photos in this post!


Filed under Ag, Field Trip, food, photos, Ranch life, Rants, Uncategorized