It was inevitable that with all the tomatoes my husband plants every year, I would come around to tomato jam. I could stick to making only sauce or roasted tomatoes for the freezer, because we always run out before the next growing season comes around, but I wanted to add something new to our tomato arsenal. Plus, we are fond of homemade condiments that dress up plain old traditional foods like burgers, so this glorified ketchup seemed like a good idea. In honor of the occasion, I added a condiments category to the site menu.
My jam is not preserved—because I don’t know how to do that and don’t have canning equipment. Plus, I must admit that I am a little afraid of home-canned foods. So this fresh jam can be refrigerated for a couple of weeks or frozen for longer storage.
Maple Tomato Jam
- 4 lbs tomatoes, cored and chopped (not seeded)—mine were half San Marzano roma and half Early Girl globe tomatoes
- 1 cup pure maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon ginger paste or grated ginger
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon ground dried hot pepper—mine were California chiles
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- Combine all ingredients in a large, heavy stockpot.
- Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium to keep the jam at a low boil for 2 hours. Stir occasionally, and a little more often during the last 20 minutes.*
- Fill your jars and cool slightly before sealing with lids. Refrigerate for up to two weeks or freeze. If freezing in plastic bags, cool before filling and sealing.
*I have a gas stove, but you will have to choose the temperatures that you know work on yours. Basically, you want to see bubbling throughout the cooking time—without using a lid. If your temperature is too low, it will take a lot longer for the moisture to evaporate. Mine was thick and ready at 2 hours and 10 minutes. But don’t try to hurry the jam, either, and risk scorching it. Let the flavors develop over the 2 hours at a low and visible boil. Follow the rule of dragging your wooden spoon across the bottom of the pan, waiting for the point when liquid doesn’t run into the path. You think it will never reach that stage, and then the magic just happens.
I was trying to think of what to stuff in this mini bacon-wrapped meatloaf, and then my husband brought in a bunch of poblanos from the garden. Usually I stuff the poblanos with meat and cheese, so it was just a matter of turning the whole thing inside-out. Traditionally, you wouldn’t use bacon with stuffed poblanos, but I didn’t expect the stuffed poblano police to stop by, so I didn’t worry about it. Smoking takes time, and ground meat needs a fatty buffer, like bacon, to keep it moist during the longer cooking. It took about 2 hours to smoke to the point that a little cheese started to melt out of one end, and a thermometer registered 165º-170º in the center (of course, the center was pepper and cheese).
I only used 1 lb of ground meat for the two of us, and there were still leftovers. You’ll have to consider how much to make for your group. Usually, for example, I would use 1 lb of ground meat to make four burgers, and we would have one left over. Personally, I prefer less than a quarter pound for my burger, but I’m probably unusual. You could make several of these rolls for a larger group of people. I cut our one roll into six thick slices.
I made a woven mat of bacon to wrap the filled meatloaf in, using my favorite local thick-sliced bacon. It’s very thick and so you can’t stretch it like the typical thin commercial bacon. I made the mat 6 strips wide, but had to add partial pieces into the weaving to make it fully woven. I’m not sure you can see those half pieces in the photo. After wrapping the roll, I sealed the edges with another strip and put that side of the roll down on the grill grate. I didn’t worry about having beautiful ends, but I did pinch the rolled meat together to hold in the cheese for as long as possible. I wrapped it all tightly in plastic and refrigerated it for about an hour to try to convince it to stay in that nice loaf shape. The lesson here is this: Don’t fret about the appearance too much. Just take your time and keep handling it until it all seems to hold together. Believe me, the gorgeous smoked bacon on the outside and the gooey cheese on the inside will overpower any construction flaws.
meat filling mix
Peel and seed peppers
Filling and bacon mat
About half way through
Center of finished roll
Inside-Out Stuffed Poblanos. Smoked. With Bacon.
- 1/2 lb ground beef, 93% lean
- 1/2 lb ground pork
- 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 2 tablespoons tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and cut in small dice
- 1 tablespoon garlic, mashed or grated
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ancho pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
- 2 poblano peppers, roasted, peeled, and seeded
- 2 long 1/2″ wide sticks of Monterrey Jack cheese, each about the length of your meat roll (it doesn’t matter if you have to use smaller pieces)
- 1 pkg thick-sliced bacon, at least 12 strips
- On a piece of plastic wrap or parchment paper, make a mat of woven bacon, about 6 strips wide and using as many pieces as you need to weave in the opposite direction. If you make it too big, you can always remove pieces, as needed. Set aside.
- Mix the first eleven ingredients together in a large bowl—meat, breadcrumbs, tomatoes, and spices. Form the meat into a log about the length of your bacon mat, then pat it out on a piece of plastic wrap to make a square. It was easy enough to pat it out with my hands, but I’ve seen videos of people using rolling pins and even large plastic bags. Just make it even and squared off at the corners so you don’t end up with a football shape.
- Lay out sections of poblano peppers to fit the meat, but don’t worry about getting them out to the ends, because you want to pinch them together after rolling.
- Lay sticks of cheese on top of the peppers lengthwise and far enough apart that you can roll them up in the meat. But this isn’t rocket science—fill the roll as full as you like with as much as you can cram in there.
- Roll up the meat, using the plastic wrap to help you. Roll rather tightly and firmly, using pressure from your hands to mold and keep it all together. Pinch the ends together to cover the filling and pat the ends kind of flat so you have a neat cylinder.
- Set the meat roll on the mat of bacon and use the plastic wrap to bring the bacon up the sides—if you’re lucky the bacon will meet or come close to meeting and you can weave in a last piece to hold it together. Wrap the whole thing in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for about an hour. Bring it out about 30 minutes before the grill is ready, but leave in the plastic wrap.
- Set up the grill for slow, indirect heat with a 2 X 2 charcoal snake and a few handfuls of wood chips scattered over it. When your starter coals are ready and you’ve started the snake, set the roll on the cooking grate above a drip pan and close the grill. Cook and smoke for about 1 1/2-2 hours. The bacon should be browned and glossy with crispy areas, and the center will probably reach at least 165º, but keep in mind that you are measuring melted cheese in the center.
- Remove to a cutting board; let rest for a few minutes; then cut in thick slices.
I ended up burning only 1/3 of my charcoal snake, so today, I’m smoking some ribs with the remainder.
I tried to get the essentials into the title—roasting, garden harvest, classic panzanella, and pasta. From the garden, I’m roasting tomatoes and green beans. My husband doesn’t care for tomatoes, but he tends the garden—sometimes you have to eat what you sow. The green beans are meant to draw him into the dish. I’m going to roast the bread cubes, as well, instead of toasting the bread in a skillet. Then it’s just a matter of making the right dressing and tossing it all with pasta and cheese curds. I know mozzarella is traditional, but I’m in love with Yancey’s Fancy® Fresh Cheddar Cheese Curds, and I think they will be perfect.
I’m going to use rice vinegar in the dressing, because it’s the mildest of the vinegars. I’m also going to seed the tomatoes before roasting and add all that liquidy stuff to the dressing, straining out the tomato seeds. But olive oil will be the star. The bread cubes, green beans, and tomatoes will all be tossed with extra virgin olive oil before roasting, and then some more will be in the final dressing.
I’m roasting more ingredients than I will use, but nothing is lost. The extra roasted tomatoes, beans, and bread cubes, will probably end up in lunches or snacks.
Seeding the tomatoes
Strain seeds out of dressing
Roasted Garden Panzanella Pasta
- 2 cups cubed crusty bread, such as from a batard or baguette—I toasted the whole loaf, but only used 2 cups in the dish
- enough tomatoes to make about 1.5-2 cups—use any type of tomato; mine were Early Girls, the first to ripen here. I roasted 10 tomatoes, but used only 4 in the dish.
- 1.5 cups fresh green beans
- 4 oz. pasta cooked according to package directions—I used whole wheat penne
- 6 oz. cheese curds—mine were fresh cheddar, which is much more mild than aged cheddar
- 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil for dressing
- 4-6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil for roasting vegetables
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar or other mild vinegar
- 2 large cloves garlic, finely grated
- salt & pepper
Preheat oven to 425º; line 2-3 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Bread: Toss bread cubes in large bowl with 2-3 tablespoons olive oil—I used 3 for the whole loaf—don’t overdo it. Spread on one of the baking sheets and toast in oven for about 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove and set aside 2 cups for the dish.
- Vegetables: Core and seed the tomatoes, reserving the tomato seeds and pulp for the dressing—I had about 1 cup of liquid from the tomatoes. Place the halved tomatoes, cut side up, on one of the lined baking sheets. Drizzle with olive oil. Salt and pepper.
- Toss the green beans with about 2 tablespoons olive oil. Spread on the second lined sheet; salt and pepper.
- Roast the vegetables on separate racks in the oven, about 15 minutes for the green beans and about 30 minutes for the tomatoes. I like a little caramelization on the tomatoes.
- Dressing: In bowl with reserved tomato seeds and pulp, add the 3/4 cup olive oil and vinegar. Whisk until combined, then pour through strainer to remove seeds—whisking helps to separate the gel from the seeds before you strain them out. Whisk in garlic. Taste and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add more oil or vinegar to taste.
- Panzanella: In large bowl toss pasta, bread, vegetables, and cheese with dressing until well coated. Set aside and allow the dressing to be absorbed by all the ingredients. Serve at room temperature.
We also had a roasted pork tenderloin, but that was really just a bonus for the gardener, who did eat a few of the tomatoes.
I still have a lot of tomatoes coming for more of the following recipes
I think I already have enough roasted tomatoes in the freezer (about 8 containers, small and medium in size), which I made as the tomatoes began to ripen in small batches. I saved them in small containers so they could be added to dishes—sauces, pizza, salads—or just eaten like candy. These are the kind of tomatoes roasted with lots of olive oil, salt, and thyme until they shrivel up into little red gems that are slightly caramelized on the bottoms and edges. I pretty much follow this recipe from Rachael Ray for “Roasted Tomatoes.”
With the rest of the tomatoes—the ones I didn’t put in the salsa of the last post—I made lots of sauce and puree. I don’t have one of those food mills that separates out seeds and skin, and now I’m not sure I want one. I found two terrific recipes that use all of the tomato by putting the cooked ingredients into the blender, not the food processor, the blender. Neither recipe requires peeling and only one requires seeding. If you’re thinking that leaving the skin and some seeds in the sauces might be bitter, you’re wrong.
The sauce is thick yet mild, not that deep red, highly-acidic kind you find in jars. It retains a little of the roasted tomato taste and it must be the onions and carrots that make it a little milder—yes, onions and carrots. One change I made in the process is not roasting peeled garlic with the veggies; I just added garlic paste to the mixture in the blender. The other change is not picking off the roasted tomato skins—they add a great caramelized flavor to the sauce and you don’t notice any pieces at all.
This sheet makes one quart of sauce
Here it is all roasted
Dump all in the blender
Here’s your quart of sauce
We have 5 quarts of sauce in the freezer, having already eaten two others with pasta.
Roasted Tomato Sauce
The original recipe can be found here: Martha Stewart’s “Roasted Tomato Sauce.”
Preheat oven to 425°; line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
- 3 pounds Roma tomatoes (you can use beefsteak or a combination, but big round tomatoes take up more room on the sheet)
- 1 medium onion, sliced in 1/4 inch rounds
- 2 carrots, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- olive oil to drizzle over vegetables
- Coarse salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon garlic paste, commercial or homemade from roasted garlic
- Core tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise, and place cut side down on baking sheet. You do not have to seed tomatoes for this recipe. Yay 😊
- Place cut onions and carrots on baking sheet. As you can see in the photo, it all fits on one sheet if you have weighed your tomatoes.
- Drizzle olive oil over all. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and thyme.
- Roast vegetables for about 45 mins or until caramelized.
- Scoop all the vegetables into a blender, then pour in any juices from the pan and add the garlic. Blend to puree to a thick even consistency.
- Store in freezer in 1 quart container.
I often double the recipe when I have a lot of tomatoes.
I currently have 11 pints of tomato puree in the freezer, stored flat in zip-top freezer bags. The pint (2 cups) size is good for adding flavor to other sauces and soups, etc. Follow the easy directions here: The Kitchn: “How to Make Tomato Purée”
Cored and seeded tomatoes
Tomatoes cooked down
Blended purée in freezer bags