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The tomatoes are fabulously delicious this year. We are growing red Jet Star and yellow Golden Girl, and pick of the crop is available for purchase at Kitchen Conservatory (to accompany our garlic and basil!).

A truly vine-ripened tomato falls into your hands when you cup the bottom of the fruit; no tugging necessary to pick it. A truly vine-ripened tomato has a sweet and succulent taste, so why not treat it like the fruit that it is? I just made a batch of tomato preserves, an old-fashioned recipe that deserves to be made again and again. The tomato pulp is tossed with sugar and sits for 24 hours in order to draw out all the water in the tomatoes and concentrate the flavor. Each pound of tomato produces a half-pound of water which is discarded! Then the pulp is gently cooked with a little of the syrup and spices, if desired.

Tomato preserves would be delicious on breakfast toast or on a goat cheese appetizer or in an omelet or as a condiment for meat. Chunky, flavorful, sweet tomato preserves could even displace ketchup on a hamburger!

Tomato Preserves

  • 3 pounds cored, peeled, seeded tomato halves
  • 1 pound sugar

Place the tomatoes in a stainless steel bowl and toss with sugar. Let sit overnight at room temperature. Using a slotted spoon, remove the tomatoes to a nonreactive pot. Pour some –about 1/4 to 1/3 cup — of the sugar-water liquid over the tomatoes to moisten. Discard the rest of the liquid. If desired, add some (but not all) of these spices to the tomatoes:

  • a few thin slices of fresh lime
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • a couple of cloves
  • an inch-thick slice of fresh ginger root
  • or, a couple of seeded hot peppers (I used 5 Thai peppers)
  • if a more savory sauce is desired, season with salt (about a 1/2 teaspoon)

Bring the tomatoes to a boil and cook gently on medium heat (so that the tomato halves do not fall apart) for about 10-15 minutes, or until the syrup has thickened. Use a slotted spoon to remove the tomatoes to a jar. Boil down the rest of the syrup a little more until syrupy. Pour the syrup over the tomatoes. Resist the urge to eat the whole pot, but ladle into glass jars (the tomatoes are translucently beautiful).

I have made lime-ginger tomatoes and ginger-garlic tomatoes, but my favorite are the hot pepper tomatoes, which I slather on sandwiches.