After my unfortunate foray into apple jelly making a couple years back, I followed up last summer* by delving into the world of jam-making. I had many adventures in jam, mainly because making jam is way easier than making jelly. I made blueberry jam (from blueberries The Egyptian and I picked) and ginger pear jam (with pears from a neighbour’s yard, picked on an excursion with Not Far From the Tree) and yellow plum jam (after being beguiled by them at the City Hall farmer’s market). Each jam I made tasted better than the last. Each one gelled perfectly. Then I got cocky. I decided, despite an enduring disgust for cantaloupes, to make cantaloupe jam. I also decided I knew enough about jam chemistry to reduce the amount of sugar called for in the cantaloupe jam recipe. INCORRECT! As a result, the cantaloupe jam never achieved a good gel, and – as one might guess – it tasted distinctly of cantaloupes.
“Blech! This is disgusting! It tastes just like cantaloupes!” I said to nobody, because nobody in their right head would hang out in my un-airconditioned kitchen in the summer while there are two enormous pots boiling on the stove. So ended my canning obsession.
Okay, the obsession didn’t end, but when I set out on this canning business, I’d made a strict rule for myself – my main ingredient had to either be picked by me or, at a minimum, purchased from a farmer’s market. I thought about canning many times this summer, but I was too lazy to carry home enough produce to put up. Neither did I have a boyfriend to take me fruit picking. I guess I could have got a group of girls together to go, but please see above re: lazy. Also, frankly, running all of the burners on your stove in the middle of summer when fruit and veg is at its peak is off-putting to say the east.
Anyway, summer turned into fall and the canner, collecting an impressive layer of dust, looked down on me from it’s spot atop my kitchen cupboards and mocked, “So is that it, Leslie? Why don’t you just donate me to the Salvation Army, then?”
I told it: Listen, don’t think I won’t, you little bastard. I have a box ready to go!
Fortunately for the canner, Lisa and Vanessa kidnapped me on Saturday and part of our day included a visit with Vanessa’s mom. Desiree had just rescued a bumper crop of green tomatoes from certain death by impending overnight frost. She had A LOT of green tomatoes. We all left with generous bags full of green tomatoes, hot peppers, parsley and mint.
I’ve never had green tomatoes in my life so I wasn’t really sure what to do with my sudden fortune. The classic answer was fried green tomatoes but there is nothing about this dish – sorry Fannie Flagg – that appeals to me. Instead I jarred up some green tomato salsa last night, which is even easier than jam (no gelling to worry about) and which I proclaim delicious. Next year if I’m lucky enough to get some green tomatoes, I’ll try pickling them.
Green Tomato Salsa
5 cups green tomatoes, chopped coarsely
2 1/2 medium onions, chopped coarsely (3 would be fine, this is just what I had on hand)
1 Anaheim chile pepper, seeded and chopped finely
3 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped finely
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. salt
1 tbsp. cumin
1 cup lime juice (from about 5 limes)
a few grinds of pepper, until it looks right
generous handful cilantro (or flat-leaf parsley, which is what I actually used because I bought it by accident), roughly chopped
Combine all ingredients except cilantro in a large saucepan and stir frequently over high heat until it begins to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the cilantro and simmer 5 more minutes. Whir with immersion blender until mixture is the consistency you like. Ladle salsa into half-pint jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Add lids and process in a boiling water canner for 15 minutes (or as appropriate for your altitude).
Yield: I got 4 half-pints.
* Hmm … now that I’m thinking about this, I think my jam adventures may have actually occurred even the previous summer – yikes.