The farmlands of Portugal and their bountiful tomato crop inspired this overlooked gem, which reminds me of the creative and frugal nature of farmers. Tomatoes are in season now, available in abundance through the fall, and can be reduced to jam and enjoyed year-round with this simple recipe. Little preparation is needed (no skinning or seeding the tomatoes, thankfully), and the yield is a rich, ruby-coloured spread that can be enjoyed with any meal.
Doce de tomate, which means “tomato sweets”, can be served on toast in the morning, spread on fresh cornbread with cheese (my personal favourite), or as a snack on crackers and cheese (pictured on crackers with São Jorge cheese). Excellent also with Brie cheese and a glass of Port for a special occasion.
*You might want to double the quantity and save a jar or two as a hostess gift
- 2 lb (1 kg) ripe tomatoes (preferably roma), chopped into large chunks (about 6 cups/1.5 L)
- 2 cups (500 mL) granulated sugar
- Two 2-inch (5 cm) cinnamon sticks
- In a Dutch oven, bring everything to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-high and cook at a vigorous boil until the tomatoes are softened, the tomato mixture is reduced in bulk and the mixture has a sauce-like consistency (about 10 minutes). Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 40 to 45 minutes, stirring as needed and reducing the temperature further if the mixture sticks to the bottom of the pan (keep an eye on the jam near the end of the cooking time). Maintain a low to medium boil. The mixture will take on a rich, ruby colored and be glossy in appearance near the end of cooking.
- Test for doneness after 50 minutes to see if the jam is set. Drip about 1 tsp (5 mL) of the jam onto a plate and let cool momentarily. Tilt the plate–the jam should not run. If it does, return the pot to a low-to-medium simmer. Repeat the test every 5 minutes until the jam has set.
- When the jam is ready, remove the cinnamon sticks and discard. Ladle into 2 hot 1-cup (250 mL) sterilized jars, leaving 1 inch (2.5 cm) of headspace. Seal the jars.
- Process the jars in a hot-water canner. Place filled jars in the bottom of a large canning pot filled with boiling water (water should cover the jars by 1 inch/2.5 cm). Cover the pot and bring to a full boil; boil for 5 minutes. Carefully remove the jars and allow to cool completely, about 3 to 4 hours or overnight. Check the seal: the lid of jar should be depressed. Store in a cool, dark place. Once opened, refrigerate and consume within 2 weeks.