(I didn't realize it until now, but you can see my reflection in these grapes)
My first try at the jam without the crab apple juice was a total bomb. The jelly turned out like sticky taffy. The flavor was there, but that batch went to the chickens. The next two batches were good, but did not jell like I wanted so I poured them back into the pot and reboiled them and then got the perfect jell. I was prepared for the worst, but was so happy to see it jell as I wanted.
I gathered up quite a few more tomatoes from my garden -- some green, some orange, some red and decided to make something my dad fondly remembers from his childhood -- tomato preserves. I have never eaten nor made tomato preserves before, but I thought it would be fun to make for my dad. Besides, I am always game to try a new recipe. I found Aunt Della's Tomato Preserves recipe online and it sounded similar to what Dad had described to me. The reviews on it were good too so I figured it was worth a shot. I left out the cinnamon, but otherwise followed the recipe exactly. Dad didn't recall any spice flavor in the tomato preserves he had eaten so I didn't add the dash of cinnamon that the recipe calls for. It also calls for a very thinly sliced lemon, so I used my mandolin to do that job, and then I quartered each slice. I didn't want the lemon slices to overpower the tomato.
I've been eating preserves on toast for two days. Mmm mmm. I was meaning to take a picture of my preserves on toast, but I ate it so fast I totally spaced-out taking a picture. Sorry, you'll have to trust me on how good it is.
In the middle of the picture above, you'll see my deep purple jars of grape jam and to the right-front is another new-to-me recipe called Tomato Jam. It, however, is not a marmalade, but instead it's more of a thick, spicy-sweet, ketchup-y tomato jam. You can't believe how good this stuff is! Really! I can imagine eating it over a thick hamburger or on a moist piece of roast chicken or dumped over a good, soft cheese. I made just a couple changes to the original recipe. I used half the sugar and added in 1 tsp. dried onion flakes and 1/2 tsp. of celery seed and 1/2 tsp. of dried yellow mustard. I found the recipe for Tomato Jam at the Food in Jars blog which has become a fast favorite. This girl cans just about everything. I am now anticipating the Clementine or Little Cutie mandarin oranges coming into season so I can whack up a few jars of those as Miss Marisa does here.
I hope that I might find just a few more pounds of homegrown tomatoes so I can cook up some more of that Tomato Jam, but the season up North is coming to a fast close. There are still good apples hanging on the trees and my friend's dad has bushels and bushels and bushels (really, he does!) of apples and it's tradition for us to take a day in October and make apple sauce and apple butter together. The canning cupboard is getting nice and full.