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Cooking

Smashing success

Hold onto summer for just a couple more weeks with tomato jam.

Cheese and toasts are natural partners with rich tomato jam.

Photo by Jim Scherer / Styling by Catrine Kelty

Cheese and toasts are natural partners with rich tomato jam.

As the summer flow of wonderful local tomatoes dwindles, I fight feelings of deprivation by making tomato jam. (Unlike jam that’s been put up, this must be refrigerated and will last for about two weeks.) Slightly grungy end-of-season tomatoes, especially meaty Romas, are often cheap and always flavorful. The jam is great with cheese and crackers, on BLTs and other sandwiches (try it with egg salad), or alongside grilled chicken, fish, burgers, or lamb. Compared with many tomato jam recipes, this one cooks quickly and requires frequent stirring, so don’t walk away from the skillet mid-process.

SIMPLE TOMATO JAM

Makes about 1 cup

2 pounds Roma tomatoes (about 10 medium), cored and quartered

½ cup plus 1 tablespoon light brown sugar, packed

Salt and pepper

3½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice

½ cinnamon stick (about 1½ inches)

In a food processor, pulse tomatoes, sugar, 1¼ teaspoons salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper, and 3 tablespoons lemon juice until fruit is finely chopped but not completely pureed and sugar is dissolved, about 6 2-second pulses. Pour into a 12-inch nonstick skillet, add cinnamon stick, and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid has reduced noticeably, about 9 minutes. Adjust heat to medium-high and simmer vigorously, stirring more often as the mixture reduces, until it is glossy and has a jammy consistency between sauce and paste, 10 to 18 minutes. Set aside off heat to cool to room temperature. Discard cinnamon stick and stir in remaining lemon juice. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, if desired, and serve (can be refrigerated for 1-2 weeks).

Variations

LEMON-ROSEMARY TOMATO JAM

Makes about 1 cup

Continue reading below

Follow Simple Tomato Jam recipe, with these changes:

1) Substitute granulated sugar for the brown sugar. Before pulsing the sugar with the tomatoes in the food processor, process the sugar with 1½ tablespoons of finely grated lemon zest and 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary until moist and fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and lemon juice and pulse as directed.

2) Omit cinnamon stick and proceed as directed.

Tip: Roma tomatoes are great for jam because they have thicker flesh than many other varieties.

jim scherer

Tip: Roma tomatoes are great for jam because they have thicker flesh than many other varieties.

MUSTARD SEED AND CHILI TOMATO JAM

Makes about 1 cup

This variation is inspired by a recipe in A Year in My Kitchen, by Skye Gyngell.

Follow Simple Tomato Jam recipe, with these changes:

1) In the skillet over medium heat, toast 1½ tablespoons mustard seeds, stirring constantly until they begin to pop, 3 to 5 minutes. Off heat continue stirring to cool seeds and stop popping, about 45 seconds. Leave seeds in skillet.

2) Substitute granulated sugar for the brown sugar and decrease the lemon juice to 3 tablespoons, adding all of it to the food processor with the tomatoes.

3) To the tomatoes, sugar, and lemon juice in the food processor add 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped, and pulse as directed.

4) Substitute 2 medium serrano chilies, stemmed, halved lengthwise (leave in the seeds), and crushed, for the cinnamon stick. Proceed as directed. Discard chilies after cooling jam.

LIME-GINGER TOMATO JAM

Makes about 1 cup

Follow Simple Tomato Jam recipe, with these changes:

1) Substitute granulated sugar for the brown sugar. Before pulsing the sugar with the tomatoes in the food processor, process the sugar with 2 teaspoons of finely grated lime zest and 1½ tablespoons chopped fresh ginger until moist and fragrant, about 30 seconds.

2) Substitute 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice for the lemon juice, adding all of the lime juice to the food processor with the tomatoes.

3) Omit cinnamon stick and proceed as directed.

SPICED TOMATO JAM

Makes about 1 cup

Follow Simple Tomato Jam recipe, with these changes:

1) To the tomatoes, sugar, and lemon juice in the food processor add 2 cloves garlic, chopped, and pulse as directed.

2) Increase cinnamon to a full 3-inch stick. Along with cinnamon add 1 teaspoon ground coriander, ½ teaspoon each ground cumin, ground ginger, and ground black pepper, and ¼ teaspoon ground allspice. Proceed as directed.

SHERRY AND ORANGE TOMATO JAM

Makes about 1 cup

Follow Simple Tomato Jam recipe, with these changes:

1) In the skillet over medium-high heat, bring ¾ cup amontillado sherry to a boil; continue to boil until reduced to 3 tablespoons, 2½ to 3½ minutes.

2) Substitute granulated sugar for the brown sugar. Before pulsing the sugar with the tomatoes in the food processor, process the sugar with 1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest until moist and fragrant, about 30 seconds.

3) Substitute 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar and the reduced sherry for the lemon juice, adding all of it to the food processor with the tomatoes.

4) Omit cinnamon stick and proceed as directed.

RED WINE AND THYME TOMATO JAM

Makes about 1½ cups

Follow Simple Tomato Jam recipe, with these changes:

1) Substitute granulated sugar for brown sugar and 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar for lemon juice, adding all of it to the food processor with the tomatoes.

2) In the skillet over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil until shimmering. Add 2 medium shallots, minced (about ½ cup), 2½ teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, and ¼ teaspoon salt, and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add ¾ cup dry red wine, adjust heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil. Continue to boil, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is reduced to a loose glaze, about 4½ minutes. Add the tomato mixture.

3) Omit cinnamon stick and proceed as directed.

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