Sunday, November 15, 2015

Tomato Basil Catsup or Jam

Tomato Basil Catsup on Burger
The Ultimate Burger Condiment

Recipe Adapted from Vegetable Recipes I Can’t Live Without

At last it’s getting colder in Santa Cruz, after a couple of too-warm winters. Our garden tomato and basil crops are winding down, and there are only a few over- or under-ripe varieties left at the Farmers’ Markets. These tomatoes might not be flavorful enough for salads. But any sort of tomato, even green, can be preserved in a catsup-like jam, according to author and Moosewood restaurant chef Mollie Katzen. I tried it with both over-ripe paste tomatoes and old pithy heirlooms. I might try it again with my green tomatoes, if the frost comes before they ripen. The sweetness (or tartness) of the tomato variety will dictate the sweetness/tartness ratio of the end product. You can alter this somewhat by varying the amount of honey and cider vinegar added to the mix.

Comparison in color of Catsup made with Different Tomatoes
Made with Paste Tomatoes (left) or Heirlooms (right)
The original recipe is a savory/sweet chunky jam that can be used on potato latkes, omelets, polenta, or other savory dishes. I cooked mine down a little more and added more basil, then pureed it. The result is a fresh catsup that tastes great on either meat or veggie burgers. Feel free to experiment with extra spices, like a dash of cinnamon and clove, or a bit of onion powder, to create your ideal condiment. Then see how many uses you can find for it. Here’s to preserving the last of our gardens’ bounty, and to enjoying its goodness during the next few weeks.

Red Tomatoes with Green Basil Cooking in Pot
Stirring In Basil: Use Plenty
Tomato Basil Catsup or Jam
makes 1¼ - 1½ cups

2 lbs. tomatoes
¼ tsp. salt
3 – 4 tbsp. light-colored honey
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 tsp. cider vinegar
about 5 - 7 large sprigs of basil

Unless you are using green tomatoes, peel and seed the tomatoes as follows. Green tomatoes can be chopped up and cooked as is.

To remove skins, boil a couple of quarts of water and set up a large bowl of water with ice cubes in it. Score the surface of the tomatoes with a knife on 4 sides. Plunge tomato into simmering water for about 10 – 20 seconds (firmer tomatoes will take longer than extra-ripe). Remove with slotted spoon into ice bath. When cool enough to handle, strip off skins.

Cut tomatoes in quarters and remove and save seeds and liquid. Dice into ~½ inch cubes. Place in medium saucepan. Strain reserved seeds and add liquid to pan. Discard seeds.

Cover pot and place over medium high heat.

When tomatoes come to a boil (5 minutes or less,) reduce heat to medium, uncover pot, and let cook down for 15 minutes.

Stir in salt, honey, balsamic vinegar, and cider vinegar. Poke basil in under the surface. Let cook down for another 35 – 45 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so. When reduced by about 1/3, or at a consistency you like, remove from heat.

When cool enough, dig out, scrape off, and discard the basil. If you prefer a smoother catsup-like jam, puree with immersion blender.

When cooled, transfer to jar or bottle with a tight-fitting lid. Store for up to several weeks in the refrigerator.

Two One Lb. Tomatoes with Basil Stalks
End of Season Heirlooms

Paste Tomatoes in Bowl of Ice Water after Simmering
End of Season Paste Tomatoes: Removing Skins

Turkey Burger with two types of Tomato Basil Catsup
Adding Excitement to Turkey Burger Night

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