At this time of year, after Labor day, when the nights are much cooler and the days are sunny and dry, we drift into the end of tomato season on Cape Cod. Like many, I anticipate the arrival of tomatoes ripened on the vine, warmed by the sun, so juicy they sometimes crack open at the touch. I cannot wait to make a tomato sandwich with slices stacked so high, I can barely get my mouth around it. Tomato and cucumber salad, tomatoes with just salt and pepper as a side dish, tomato tarts and tomato pies. The possibilities seem endless for this versatile fruit. Until they don’t. Until I get tired of all of the tomato recipes I cannot wait to make while I pine away thinking about them during cold winter months. But I also cannot stand to see any go to waste. That is why I now make tomato jam. It’s fast, easy and works with all types of tomatoes even those sad looking store bought cherry tomatoes on supermarket shelves in February. But the best tomato jam is made and devoured right now in September.
Spread these tomatoes on bread, serve them alongside cheese and crackers or dollop some on pasta. There are so many possibilities when you turn tomatoes into jam.
2 cups roughly chopped tomatoes
1 small handful of fresh rosemary or oregano (dried is fine if it’s wintertime, use 1 teaspoon)
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
3 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
Heat oven to 375. Toss tomatoes and herbs in 2 tablespoons olive oil on a rimmed baking sheet or in a cast iron pan. Add balsamic vinegar, salt and sugar. Toss again. Place in oven and allow to bake for 30 minutes, tossing occasionally. Continue to bake until tomatoes have become a thick paste and juices are partially evaporated. (Up to 20 minutes more). Scrape all tomatoes and juices into a small bowl. Top with remaining tablespoon olive oil and black pepper. Serve at room temperature.
(Alternatively, you can make this jam on a stove top or grill.)