Following-on from the base fruit jam recipe, here’s something different, something a little more involved, and something guaranteed to make you not wanting to share it (or impress those with whom you do share).
You can’t quite go for wild tomato foraging in Hanwell’s open spaces, but this is the season, tomatoes are a fruit, botanically speaking, and are ripe right now.
This recipe makes a spicy and aromatic tomato jam. You can eat it as a spread on toast, use as glue between a griddled slice of sour dough bread and a fried egg, use as pasta sauce or when making pizza.
Wash and dry 4 kg ripe tomatoes, then cut into eights. Place the pieces, skin-down, next to each other on large flat baking trays and slowly dry in the oven at 95 C (200 F) for 3..4 hours. Stop when they are still slightly moist, but no longer wet. You may need to do this in batches, depending on your oven. I get 2 kg on each tray, but a convection oven takes 2 trays with ease. I open the door every 20 minutes to let the steam out, and wipe off the condensation. You’re trying to evaporate over 3 litres of water, so give your oven a helping hand here.
When dried, let them cool down (and dry out even more).
Blizz the tomatoes into a purée, skin, seeds and all. This should have a slightly moist yet rich and thick consistency.
Toast one large tablespoon of coriander seeds, one large tablespoon of fennel seeds, 3 dried red chillies, a teaspoon of fenugreek seeds and 4 star anise. Optionally also add cinnamon bark and allspice berries. Transfer the hot spices to your pestle and mortar or spice grinder.
Add a splash of olive oil to the same pan and crisp 200 g of dry-cured streaky bacon or panchetta.
Grind your toasted spices and enjoy the delicious aroma. When ground, sieve to remove stalks and husk. Add a teaspoon of ground cumin.
Mix the ground spices with the tomatoes, then blizz the bacon into small crispy bits and add to the mix.
Season to taste with balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper and brown sugar.
Set some aside for tonight or tomorrow’s lunch.
Fill the rest into preserving jars, close the lids and preserve in a water bath in your oven at 85 C (185 F) for 75 minutes.
Remove the jars from the water bath and let cool down before storing them away.