By Jean Redstone
So you said goodbye to the juicy strawberries and the sweet blueberries and cherries and you know for sure the peaches and the melon seasons are ending in about a month. Now what? Where are the sweet-tooth pleasers to delight a family, show off for guests or make with friends?
Ahem! I think you’ve forgotten a transforming fact about the summer-fall season. Tomatoes are still plentiful, still Jersey delicious, and I know you’re using them in pasta and salads and sandwiches. But tomatoes are more than those traditional ingredients. Tomatoes, in case you forgot, are a FRUIT!!
Treated as the fruit they actually are, the beautiful tomato becomes a sweet palate treat in many ways you may not have thought to use them. Green tomatoes, for example, taste like apples when baked in a pie with apple pie spices. Here are three sweets made with fresh tomatoes that will enlarge the fruit season for your pleasure.
SWEET AND SPICY HONEY TOMATO JAM
A great way to eat fresh tomatoes
5 lbs cored tomatoes, finely chopped
2 C honey
1/2 C light brown sugar
8 Tbls lime juice
1 Tbls red chili pepper flakes
2 tsp fresh grated ginger
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
Combine the tomatoes, honey, sugar, lime juice, red chili flakes, ginger, cumin, cinnamon, and the cloves in a non-reactive pot over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the mixture reduces and becomes a jam consistency (sticky and thick), about 1 1/2 to 2 hours depending on the type of tomato and the size of the pot you use.
When the jam is close to the desired consistency, prepare 4 pint jars, rings, and lids (or eight 8-ounce jars) by boiling them for 10 minutes to sterilize. Remove from the water to a dry towel.
When the jam is cooked, remove from the heat and fill the jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe the rims, apply the lids, and twist on the rings. Process the jars in boiling water bath for 20 minutes.
Remove the jars from the water bath to a clean, dry towel. When they are cool enough to handle, test the seals. Any unsealed jars can be moved to the refrigerator and consumed now. Sealed jars can be stored in a dark, cool place for up to one year.
Makes 4 pint-sized jars of jam. Use jam for pastry tarts, pancakes, or any other way jam is used.
A traditional English recipe
1 large beefsteak tomato, not quite ripe (you need a firm tomato because it will soften with heat.)
Water, enough to cover tomato, for boiling
4 tsp brown sugar plus 4 tsp water
fresh basil leaves
4 scoops vanilla ice cream or yogurt or frozen yogurt, OR whipped cream
Boil water. Remove stem and with a knife, score tomato bottom in “X” shape. Place tomato in boiling water for about 10 seconds. Remove carefully. Gently peel off the skin and cut tomato into four pieces.
Put the four teaspoons of brown sugar with four teaspoons of water into medium saucepan. Heat on medium to caramelize the sugar and water until it turns blond. Add tomato quarters to one corner of the pan, and over low heat, use a spoon to continuously coat them with caramel until they’re lightly poached. If desired, add a few leaves of sweet basil and a bit of sweet marjoram to basting sauce.
Place one scoop of vanilla ice cream, yogurt, or whipped cream into four sundae dishes. Lay a caramelized piece of tomato on top, drizzle remaining caramel over the tomatoes, and serve with a sundae spoon. Serves 4.
TOMATO SPICE CAKE
The fruit adds a depth to an old favorite
3 C sifted all-purpose flour
1 1/2 C white sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp ground nutmeg
3/4 tsp ground cloves
3/4 tsp ground allspice
3/4 tsp salt
1 C tomato sauce (See note)
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 C vegetable oil
1 C chopped walnuts
1 1/2 C golden raisins
1/2 C orange juice
1/4 C confectioners sugar for dusting OR 2 C prepared cream cheese or butter frosting
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl mix tomato sauce and soda until well blended. In a mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, spices and salt. Mix in tomato sauce. Add eggs, oil, nuts, raisins and fruit juice and mix well. Pour batter into a greased 10 inch bundt or tube pan.
Bake at 350 degrees 45 to 55 minutes. Cool cake in pan for 15 minutes, and then turn out on serving plate. Frost or dust top with confectioners’ sugar.
Tip: This recipe can also be used for cupcakes.
Note: To make fresh tomato sauce, see jam recipe, above. Eliminate all ingredients except tomatoes and lime juice. Then substitute lemon for the lime juice and add 1 teaspoon of salt. Put cut tomatoes in a large pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until mix is a sauce consistency to your liking. Makes about 4 pints. Store by canning or freezing. Will keep in fridge about 2-3 weeks.