Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tomato Fig Marmalade

Still attached like a cluster of grapes

The volunteer tomato plant that appeared among the beans this summer is still producing.  Such a hardy determined plant deserves some special attention.  After all, it did the thing that plants are supposed to do.  When it died last year, its last rotting tomatoes were the nourishment for the seeds that were left behind.  The winter rains, falling debris, even the turning of the soil in the spring could be the nursery for a new plant to begin.  When the beans started to grow, their strong young stalks provided a trellis for the young volunteer that lay hidden but was now reaching for the sun.  Undisturbed, the tomato plant continued to grow and strengthen until it towered over all the other plants in the bed.  And long after everything else has finished, the untended, ignored volunteer is showing the essential hardiness that comes from being a determined survivor.
My plan had been to make orange marmalade so I went to Fannie Farmer to remind myself of the basics of making jam.  Listed above the instructions for orange marmalade was a recipe for tomato marmalade. 
Red and green tomatoes, orange and lemon slices and sugar

 Hmm…why not?  It didn’t seem to matter whether the tomatoes were ripe or still green and I would only need one orange to do this, so I could still have enough to make orange marmalade later, once I get more jars.
But I would only make a small batch because the tomatoes have been ripening so well on the counter that they continue to be a treat to eat as they are in all their sweet juiciness.  Besides, this was a bit of an experiment.  Tomato marmalade?  It sounded really good for a lover of tomatoes like me, but...  Then I remembered the figs I had left over.  They were really ripe and would be a good spark of flavor to complement the tomatoes and orange. 
Simmering away happily with the figs

 I only made four 6 oz. jars.  Maybe I’ll have to make more. It’s really, really good on a breakfast piece of toasted baguette.
 Put in a pretty little jar it could be a nice gift and a reminder of the summer that wasn’t but became the fall to remember for its giving harvest.

 Tomato Fig Marmalade
6 ripe black figs
1 Valencia orange, sliced very thin
½ lemon, sliced very thin
4 cups red and/or green tomatoes, cut in small pieces (I didn’t even peel them, they’re so tender)
3 cups sugar
Mix all together in stock pot and boil slowly, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking until thick, about one to two hours.
Ladle into hot, sterilized jars.  Seal and boil ten minutes in water bath.

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