Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Green Tomato Jam

Green Tomato Jam on biscuit

A sweet way to use end-of-season tomatoes

As we’ve moved into autumn here in St. Louis, our garden has continued to put out late-season goodies. Including quite a few tomatoes that didn’t have time to ripen before the summer sun faded.

We happily harvested our green tomatoes—but then had to figure out what to do with them. Fried green tomatoes? Nah, been there, done that. Curried Green Tomatoes? Terrific, but we did that last year. We wanted something really different.

So we decided to make Green Tomato Jam. It’s wonderful with biscuits or on toast. And you can even use it as a “sauce” or garnish on meat (it’s spectacular with pork roast).

But we have to make a confession here: Our favorite way to consume Green Tomato Jam is straight from the jar. By the spoonful. Take that as a warning.


Green Tomato Jam in ramekin, overhead view

Recipe: Green Tomato Jam

There are lots of recipes for green tomato jam, and all are pretty similar. Basically, every recipe contains green tomatoes (natch), plus sugar, some citrus for acid, and a bit of flavoring.  

The recipe we like best is one we found on Lynne Rossetto Kasper’s Splendid Table website. BTW, the link takes you not only to her recipe for green tomato jam, but also to instructions for a tart you can make with the jam.

This recipe takes about 10 minutes of prep time, plus 40 or more minutes of cooking time. The recipe yields 4 to 5 cups.

We don’t preserve the jam, just refrigerate it. It should keep for a month or longer in the fridge. You can also freeze the jam.

Ingredients
  • 3 pounds green tomatoes
  • 2 2/3 cups sugar
  • 3 lemons
  • ¼ teaspoon Kosher salt (half that amount if using regular table salt; see Notes)
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 stick of cinnamon (optional but tasty; see Notes for additional spice ideas)
Procedure
  1. Wash the green tomatoes and dry them. Core the tomatoes (remove the stem ends) and cut them into ½-inch pieces.
  2. Place the cut-up tomatoes (and any juice that might have escaped) into a large bowl made of a nonreactive substance (stainless or glass). Add the sugar and toss together. Cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature overnight (or up to 24 hours).
  3. Next day: Pour the tomato mixture into a large, wide Dutch oven or cooking pot (one that holds 6 quarts or more; you want a pot that is wider rather than taller to help speed evaporation of excess water from the jam).
  4. Zest the lemons (you can use a zester, although we find it easier to use a microplane grater). If necessary, mince the zest until it’s finely shredded. Cut away the white pith of the lemons and discard. Seed the lemons and cut them into small pieces.
  5. Add the lemon (zest and pieces) to the pot with the tomatoes. Add the salt, pepper, and cinnamon stick. Over high stovetop heat, bring the tomato mixture to a boil. Then reduce the heat so the jam is cooking at a moderate simmer, and set a timer for 40 minutes. Stir the pot from time to time with a wooden spoon while the mixture is cooking. You want to cook away the water in the tomatoes—you’re aiming for a mixture that is translucent, with thick juices.
  6. At the 40-minute mark, check the temperature of the tomato mixture with an instant-read thermometer or a candy thermometer. The jam should reach a temperature of 215 or even 220 degrees F (see Notes for more on temperature). If you don’t have a thermometer, test for doneness by spooning a tiny bit of jam onto a chilled plate. If it runs, cook the jam a bit longer. If it doesn’t run, it’s done.
  7. Once the jam is cooked, take it off the heat and remove the cinnamon stick. We usually pour the jam into a clean bowl at this point so it can cool more quickly.
  8. When the jam is cool, ladle it into clean glass jars (in a pinch, you can use plastic containers). Cover the containers and refrigerate.
Green Tomato Jam on biscuit

Notes
  • Kasper suggests that green tomato jam should be done at a temperature of 210 degrees F (because if you heat it higher than that, the flavor won’t be quite as bright). In our experience, however, the jam sets better at a slightly higher temperature, so we recommend 215 or even 220 degrees F. Yes, you may lose a few flavor nuances, but you’ll be sure that the jam will set up properly.
  • Cinnamon adds a pleasant (but subtle) note to the jam. If you want a more assertive taste, you may want to double the amount we specify. 
  • Some recipes for green tomato jam add a bit of ginger (you can try a piece an inch or so long, peeled and finely minced).
  • Or add a few whole cloves (fish them out of the jam in Step 7 when you remove the cinnamon stick).
  • Or try a whole vanilla bean (again, remove it in Step 7).
  • If you want a spicier jam, you could add some cayenne pepper to the mix—say ½ teaspoon or so.
  • Kosher salt is more coarse than regular table salt, so it’s less salty by volume. If you’re substituting table salt for Kosher, always use less—about half as much.
  • Green tomatoes look a bit like tomatillos. But their flavors are quite different, so you can’t really substitute one for the other.
  • Where to get green tomatoes? The best place is from your own home garden, if you have one. Or beg some from your neighbor’s garden. Farmers’ markets are another good source—they’ll often have them right at the beginning of the season, or at the end. We’ve never seen them at the supermarket, however.
Green Tomato Jam on biscuit

Jam Today, Jam Tomorrow

“This Green Tomato Jam is wonderful,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs, spreading some on a homemade biscuit.

“Terrific flavor,” I said, munching. “And a great way to use the last of our tomatoes.”

“In fact, about the only tomatoes we managed to harvest,” said Mrs K R. “Since the squirrels got the rest of them this year.”

“Don’t remind me,” I groaned. “They chewed right through the protective netting I put up, and swiped most of our ripe ones!”

“They did put you in a bit of a jam, didn’t they?” said Mrs K R, taking a bite.

“They did,” I replied. “But I’ve got some ideas to jam their channels next year.”

Mrs K R smiled. “Don’t jam your thumbs trying.”

Sigh. Knowing me (and the squirrels), I’ll probably jam something up.

You may also enjoy reading about:
Curried Green Tomatoes
Baking Powder Biscuits
Beer Bread
Homemade Butter
Easy Pickled Watermelon Rind
Peach Salsa
Or check out the index for more

118 comments:

  1. I love green tomato anything and this looks fantastic! Love that you used it on biscuits, what a treat!

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    1. Hi Kristy, although I've never met a biscuit I didn't like, green tomato jam sure makes them even better. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  2. Hi John, oh my goodness, this sounds delicious. Tomato jam is my favorite. I bet green tomato is even better!

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    1. Hi Cheri, if you like tomato jam, you'll love green tomato jam -- such super flavor! Thanks for the comment.

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  3. Must tuck this away for the end of the tomato season - it's only just starting down here.

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    1. Hi Rachel, you can of course make this with early season tomatoes, but that's so hard to do -- one wants them to ripen, and in a hurry, to enjoy their glorious flavor! So I'd wait until the end of the season too. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  4. What a great idea, and your photos are lovely! Thank you so much for sharing. :)

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    1. Hi Linda, isn't this nice? Really good flavor, and a fun dish! Thanks for the comment.

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  5. Oh, how I wish I'd had this recipe a couple of weeks back! The farmstead was brimming with all kinds of green tomatoes. I'll have to go by and see if they still have some. I love tomato jams and chutneys and like you said, they are great straight out of the jar! What a gorgeous colour on the jam as well. Lovely recipe, John! Hope you keeping warm, I'm sure St Louis is seeing the effects of the weather we have here. It's been snowing since yesterday and we're at 5F right now.

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    1. Hi Nazneen, we may see our first snow of the season this weekend! Or maybe not -- the weather gods are fickle. :-) Hope you can find some green tomatoes! Thanks for the comment.

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  6. AWESOME! I have a bucket full of green tomatoes in the kitchen. What a great idea and you know how I love jam.

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    1. Hi Debra, I bet I know what you'll be doing this weekend. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  7. I love jam and any kind of jam except I haven't had it in a form of tomatoes. This is interesting and the flavor must be uniquely delicious. This is a nice post, John. Thank you. :)

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    1. Hi Ray, tomato jam is really good stuff! Quite interesting flavor. Thanks for the comment.

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  8. Green tomato jam looks delicious. I have lots of tomatillo in my garden, I will try your recipe with tomatillo. Thanks for sharing!!!

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    1. Hi Shibi, tomatillos are a different beast, of course, but I would think they'd make a good jam. Will be interested to hear how yours turns out! Thanks for the comment.

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  9. Hi John, I have never had Green Tomato Jam, I know I must be missing something delicious. Now I have a good recipe to try it. This jam sounds so good, if you said you eat it from the jar. This one I have to try. I enjoy jam on biscuits so this one is very different! I don't have a garden, but I have to check with my farmers market on the weekend. Great post and of course I love the "jams" that you and Mrs. Riffs get into! Thanks for sharing and an entertaining post..Have a fun week and weekend! :) Dottie

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    1. Hi Dottie, Mrs KR and I are always getting into one jam or another. ;-) This really is a good jam -- definitely worth spooning right out of the jar! Thanks for the comment.

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  10. John, I bet this is delicious. I make tomato jam with the red tomatoes but you are the first one that I have heard in using green tomatoes. I love fried green tomatoes, have you tried them?

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    1. Hi Pat, fried greet tomatoes are really good! Haven't put them on the blog, but should someday. Tomato jam with red tomatoes is really good too -- this is similar, but of course quite different at the same time. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  11. Fabulous recipe for green tomatoes... ours are only just coming on, being the start of summer... I'm curious, what does the jam taste like? You might like to try the recipe for green tomato salad that I have on Good Things... it's a cracker... who'da thunk...

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    1. Hi Lizzy, the jam is sweet, with an undertone of flavor that is pleasingly tart. Very interesting flavor. I should look up your green tomato salad -- that sounds wonderful. Thanks for the comment.

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  12. Lucky you John, that your garden lasted so long. We had killing frosts a couple of weeks ago…the only thing left in my garden are my herbs that I keep covering but with lows in the 20's and highs only in the 30's in a couple of days that really is the end of my garden for this year. I can just imagine how good one of your jam was on a warm biscuit. :)

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    1. Hi Karen, we've had a pretty mild fall thus far. Until now. :-) We were lucky our garden kept producing as long as it did! Thanks for the comment.

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  13. Green tomatoes seems to be a southern thing... I have never tried them fried or in a jam. Thanks to this recipe I can make the jam at home. I know that I will enjoy it a lot.

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    1. Hi Denise, definitely a southern thing, but also pretty popular for anyone who has a garden. They have a good flavor, and they're fun to use! Thanks for the comment.

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  14. Hi John,

    This is interesting. I didn't know that I can use green tomatoes to make jam :p

    Zoe

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    1. Hi Zoe, isn't this a fun recipe? And who doesn't like jam? ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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    2. Hi John,

      Nice to learn this great tip from you :D

      I have a giveaway for 4 lucky winners and hope that you can be one of them. Cheers!

      Zoe

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    3. Hi Zoe, thanks for the heads up! I'll be stopping by. :-)

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  15. I never even look at green tomatoes and now I feel guilty for neglecting them! ha!

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    1. Hi GiGi, I'll bet you'll never neglect green tomatoes again! Thanks for the comment.

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  16. Your timing is impeccable! We picked all of the tomatoes yesterday because we're getting a hard freeze tonight along with the rest of the country. I pulled out the largest 8 tomatoes and will be making fried green tomatoes (something I have to do at least once a year or else Bobby might find another wife. :)). However, I'm sitting here looking at another 10 pounds of green tomatoes. A jam is absolutely perfect!!! Love the way the lemon is used, chopped up and thrown in to the pot. Thanks for such a timely post!

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    1. Hi MJ, fried green tomatoes are good, aren't they? And this jam is really fun to make, and awfully tasty. Might be fun to put some Hatch green chilies in it. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  17. Tomato season seems like a zillion years agao, red, green or otherwise. I'm sorry the squirrels got to yours John. I was pretty lucky but if it weren't for your warning, I could have very well been in a jam myself:)

    I do enjoy a nice plate of fried green tomatoes every once in a while. I'm sure I would love this tomato jam. I do believe I have a recipe around here for green tomato jam pie. I should try to find it and keep both recipes; yours and it, in a safe place:)

    Thanks for sharing, John...

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    1. Hi Louise, I hope you find your recipe for green tomato jam pie! Sounds like fun. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  18. Hehe, you and Mrs Riffs are very funny. How lovely to grow your own tomatoes but what a shame the squirrels thought they were for them. We don't have squirrels here in Oz but we have possums in abundance and this year they destroyed my herb garden - there's nothing left of it! I had never heard of green tomatoes until that movie came out, 'Fried Green Tomatoes' and then I thought they were frying unripened tomatoes! I had no idea there was a variety of tomatoes that didn't turn red. Your tomato jam sounds great and I love how it can be eaten straight from the jar with a spoon xx

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    1. Hi Charlie, no, they're unripened tomatoes -- sorry if I was confusing. But their flavor is rather different from the fully ripe and red ones. Thanks for the comment.

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  19. this looks fabulous, I think I will have to try it with your suggestion of cayenne

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    1. Hi Dahn, adding spicy cayenne to something sweet like this is always a fun idea! Such great flavor. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  20. I'd do the same and eat this right out of the jar!! Looks that good!

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    1. Hi Ashley, best way to eat it! Thanks for the comment.

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  21. looks amazing! I'd die to try your jam! I'm totally addicted to tomatoes so I can't wait to give this recipe a try!

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    1. Hi Marcela, it's really good! Sweet and like, well, jam. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  22. such a glossy,rich and flavor loaded jam....we love green tomatoes anything...converted into a cinnamon spiced jam...why not?...that warning of irresistible joy while one has this jam spoonfuls out of jar is something really needed at our home....it won't cease all from savoring spoons of it though....this is so going to be a favorite at home,thanks :-)

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    1. HI Kumar, the cinnamon note in this is really nice. Very subtle, but there. Thanks for the comment.

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  23. Oh this brings memories of my Mom. We always had green tomatoes. Mom got VERY inventive about using them. Half of our ketchup supply was green. But you know she never made jam. Probably because we had so much fruit jam----or more likely she didn't think of it. Isn't a lovely color too. I can see it on a rectangle of cream cheese with crackers and on bruschetta combo.

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    1. Hi Carol, I've had green tomato ketchup, but never made it. I should! And I'm thinking some kind of appetizer with cream cheese, crackers, and this jam too. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  24. Your green tomato jam sounds fantastic. The fresh ginger idea is very appealing to me and I would use it on cornbread muffins. Thanks for a great idea and recipe. I'll also be checking out the Splendid Table link. --Rocquie

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    1. Hi Rocquie, cornbread muffins sounds wonderful! Great idea. Thanks for the comment.

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  25. It's great your garden is still producing food! This is a great way to preserve the summer!

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    1. Hi Laura, with the cold weather, parsley is about the only thing standing. Takes a lot to knock that off! Thanks for the comment.

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  26. I had never even heard of cooking with green tomatoes until the book (Fried Green Tomatoes) came out. This jam sounds terrific - the perfect place to put those few tomatoes the squirrels didn't get!

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    1. Hi Beth, there were very, very few tomatoes the squirrels didn't get! I think they just got tired of tomatoes at the end of the season, so left us with a few green ones. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  27. What a great recipe! I've seen things like this before, but now I'll have to be sure to plant tomatoes next year. This is the first year that I've done nothing! You don't think rabbits eat tomatoes do you?

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    1. Hi Abbe, I'm pretty sure your tomatoes will be safe from rabbits! Thanks for the comment.

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  28. I've had green tomato chutney, but the jam sounds fabulous too. A jar of this jam, a spoon and a cozy blanket in the window seat, and I can spent an entire day.

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    1. Hi Lail, green tomato chutney is really good! We've made that before. The jam is quite nice -- worth trying sometime. Thanks for the comment.

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  29. Sounds mazing. A little, a little tart and a little aromatic from the cinnamon. What a fun recipe and I am sure if you don't keep eating by the spoonfuls you will be busy creating many new dishes both sweet and savory with your new green tomato jam. Just shared!

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    1. Hi Bam, pretty hard not to eat this stuff by the spoonful! Or on toast. ;-) Really good mixed in with yogurt, too. Thanks for the comment.

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  30. This looks so good, John! i love finding new ways to use green tomatoes as we inevitably always have some. I just pickled a bunch, but will have to pin this for next year. I love the idea of making a tart from it, too.

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    1. Hi Amy,, we haven't made a tart yet, but really like the idea! Thanks for the comment.

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  31. What a great colour, and a brilliant idea to use up under ripe tomatoes too.

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    1. Hi Caroline, isn't the color nice? And it really is a great way to use end-of-season tomatoes. Thanks for the comment.

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  32. What a great idea for green tomatoes! This jam looks and sounds tasty.

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    1. Hi Pam, isn't this nice? And the jam really is awfully tasty! Thanks for the comment.

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  33. Just picked a bunch of green tomatoes before frost hit, so thanks for this great jam to use for them!

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    1. Hi Pamela, we love green tomatoes! And it's always nice having a new recipe for them. Thanks for the comment.

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  34. Oh man that looks good.
    One can easily make a meal out of just this!
    You speak my language!

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    1. Hi Dawn, it's really wonderful stuff! Terrific flavor. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  35. What a unique jam John! The green tomatoes and hint of cinnamon make a perfect breakfast or even lunch treat. If the squirrels only knew where their green tomatoes went.. :) J+C

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    1. Hi J+C, isn't this nice? And yes, I'll bet the squirrels are furious their nice tomatoes have disappeared! :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  36. I love green tomatoes. I can just see how combining sugar and green tomatoes into a jam would result in something very delicious!

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    1. Hi Julia, this really is delicious stuff. And pretty easy to make, too! Thanks for the comment.

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  37. Wow, you two have been busy! I love this idea of green tomato jam. I've made red tomato jam often but I love the idea of the green. Thanks for sharing this one.

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    1. Hi Maureen, can't keep us out of the kitchen. :-) My mom used to make red tomato jam, but we never have -- need to do that sometime. That is, if the squirrels ever leave us enough tomatoes! Thanks for the comment.

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  38. I bet this would be awesome slathered on roast pork. What a great way to use up the very last tomatoes of the season, especially if you're not in the mood to fry them.

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    1. Hi Carolyn, the flavor of this works really well with pork! Or on biscuits. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  39. Fantastic jam recipe and I am definitely going to try this since I have a few green tomatoes sitting in my fridge to be turned into chutney.

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    1. Hi Taruna, this really is a fun recipe -- I think you'll enjoy it. Although it's hard to beat a green tomato chutney! Thanks for the comment.

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  40. This Green Tomato Jam sounds so wonderfully unique and tasty! What a great use of green tomatoes! I dont think I've ever seen or tasted anything quite like it ever!

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    1. Hi Shashi, this is really an interesting recipe -- loads of flavor, and not quite like anything I've had either. Thanks for the comment.

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  41. Eating it out of the jar is a great testimonial! Wish I had some green tomatoes left. I'll have to save this one until next year.

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    1. Hi Lea Ann, and of course the only way to eat it out of the jar is in front of the refrigerator with the door open. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  42. Yum yum I bet this goes so well with any kind of bread! I only discovered green tomato the last few years or so and I have been a fan since. Would love to try this next time I buy green tomatoes. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Hi Yi, this does go great with every bread we've tried it with. Definitely worth making. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  43. I'll have to pass this along to my mom. She makes a green tomato relish, but this sounds much more versatile!

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    1. Hi Kristi, I'll bet your mom will really like this -- loads of flavor, and quite versatile, as you say. Thanks for the comment.

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  44. Your green tomato jam is as pretty as an apple in a jam. Seriously, such a gorgeous green glow one would not equate with tomatoes. Very nice indeed and an all purpose flavour. I would top your green tomato jam packed biscuit with a little ricotta. You have done well to use the last of the tomatoes creatively (don't you hate wasting the end of the year produce? I do :D)

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    1. Hi Merryn, isn't this jam just gorgeous stuff? So pretty! And I agree the green glow is just delightful. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  45. Until very recently I didn't even know you could do anything with reen tomatoes. But I went to a tomato farm in Norway and bought a couple of green tomato products. One of which being green tomato jam. I haven't used it yet but you just made me very curious. We have a tiny amount of tomatoes, so not yet enough for making jam ourselves but maybe next year!

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    1. Hi Simone, green tomato jam has such an interesting flavor! You'll enjoy the jam you bought, I'm sure. If you have just a few green tomatoes, fried green tomatoes are the way to go, IMO (assuming the tomatoes are fairly large). Thanks for the comment.

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  46. A wonderful and unique jam! Really delicious looking and perfect with scones our biscuits.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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    1. Hi Rosa, this would be wonderful with scones! And we've been playing with scones recipes lately. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  47. Green tomato jam! I love the sound of this.

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    1. Hi Amanda, it's really great -- I think you'd like it. Thanks for the comment.

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  48. This definitely sounds interesting to me. Never tried anything like this.

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    1. Hi Raymund, it's a fun dish -- loads of flavor. And a great way to use green tomatoes! Thanks for the comment.

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  49. Looks delicious! I'm missing fresh tomatoes this time of the year :)

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    1. Hi Kiran, we're missing fresh tomatoes too! But this jam is nice to have. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  50. That's quite a smart way to use green tomatoes which didn't get the time to ripe. When I read the titel I had to instantly think of pork roast, haha.. =D I think it would go well to with schnitzel as a sauce and with sauerkraut, mustard and knödel dumplings at the side.

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    1. Hi Helene, schnitzel would be a great match for this! Love the idea. Thanks for the comment.

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  51. The jam looks fantastic, John! Not to mention how unique "green tomato jam" is. Can't wait to try it!

    Julie & Alesah
    Gourmet Getaways xx

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    1. Hi Julie & Alesah, green tomato jam is fun -- not something people have all the time. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  52. I have never eaten green tomato anything, but if I were to venture that direction, this jam would be a good place to start. Using the last of the garden harvest is so very rewarding.

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    1. Hi Judy, this is a pretty good gateway into green tomatoes. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  53. Thought I had commented on this! We made red tomato jam for the first time and it was luscious - a great alternative to ketchup. I love the way you spiced this - the cinnamon is a nice touch. I'd also like it with ginger. The squirrels and the chipmunks do get their fill from my garden. When we had our yellow lab, she would eat all the plum tomatoes. Even when blind, I'd change where the pots were and she would sniff them out.

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    1. Hi Claudia, your yellow lab was a connoisseur! My mom used to make red tomato jam -- I need to someday. Thanks for the comment.

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  54. Sounds and looks good, a must try. Very creative, and my jam is always just refrigerate. Makes life easy. Thanks for the recipe.

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    1. Hi Pam, this really is excellent stuff. And I agree refrigerator jam does make life easy! Thanks for the comment.

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  55. mmm i need to hunt down some green tomatoes first!

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    1. Hi Amy, you do. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  56. Now that is an unusual and a pretty good recipe. I can't wait to try this.

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    1. Hi Ansh, it's really a neat recipe -- loads of flavor, and really pretty. Thanks for the comment.

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  57. I had to work with green tomatoes at the Cordon Bleu school, but we had to remove the skins first (oh, those finicky French chefs)! Boiling the tomatoes didn't work, so we had to sear the skins off with a blow torch. I think I prefer red tomatoes instead!

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    1. Hi Fran, I've peeled plenty of ripe tomato skins, but it'd never occur to me to peel green tomato skins! But I always look forward to working with a blow torch in the kitchen! Thanks for the comment.

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  58. Green tomatoes are underrated against their red brother, but I am glad you enjoy it as much as I do :D
    Lovely jam chutney!

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

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    1. Hi Uru, green tomatoes are indeed underrated! Probably because the red ones are so good that we patiently wait for them to ripen so we can enjoy them. Unless the squirrels get them, of course. :-( Thanks for the comment.

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