Sunday, August 17, 2014

In Praise of Summer Fruit

Notice, I did not say "in praise of summer."  If you've been reading this blog for awhile you know that summer is my least favorite season.  Most of the time, I detest summer; the wilting heat, the mosquitoes, the furnace that is the interior of my car, the inability to be outside during the day.  Given my propensity for passing out when overheated, I do not ride unless it is very early in the morning.

But, I do love summer fruits and vegetables; especially peaches and tomatoes.  Peaches and cream for breakfast, peaches cut up in a bowl on my desk at work (its not good to dribble peach juice all over your work) and peaches in salad or cereal.  The same goes for tomatoes.  BLTs, tomato and cheese sandwiches, caprese salads, sliced with a sprinkle of sugar, or just eaten straight like a peach.

Saturday, I went to the farmers market and loaded up on tomatoes from my favorite vendor.  He slid four or five more into my bag with a grin.  Back home, our neighbor had brought me a small bag with four tomatoes from their garden.  What to do?  Two things:

Tomato soup for dinner last night.

A simple soup with a bit of onion, lots of tomatoes, a splash of cream and this secret ingredient:

I made grilled Gruyere cheese sandwiches on local sourdough to go with:

And today, the creme de la creme; the piece de resistance -- the reason I bought all those tomatoes:

Sweet Tomato Jam; my grandmother's recipe.  No directions, just the ingredients but so simple that you don't really need instructions.

Don't add the water.  I have no idea why my grandmother did that; it just makes the jam take longer to come together.  I doubled the recipe.  It takes a long time -- a couple hours -- to cook down to jam thickness so be patient.

I don't peel or seed the tomatoes.  The seeds contain natural pectin so you need those.  The skins are part of the nostalgia.  I like it lumpy because that's how I remember it when we visited my grandparents in Illinois as a child and, later as a teenager, my grandmother's sister Irene.  It has to be lumpy, it has to be sweet (yes, the sugar amounts are correct) and there has to be pieces of lemon to pick out and suck on as you work your way through the jar.  Throw everything together in a big pot and let it boil.  I smush the tomatoes periodically with a potato masher.

I think this is the best batch I've ever made.  The tomatoes were exceptionally sweet and very ripe.

Don't worry, Dad.  One of the jars is for you.


  1. Ooooo, thanx for sharing. I must make for my FIL. Tomatoes are his all time fav.

  2. Funny, yesterday I started my summer tomato sandwich ritual. Sometimes with cucumbers sometimes with swiss cheese. Thanks for the sweet tomato jam recipe. I'm going to try it.

  3. The only thing I could not make from this post is the sandwich. There is no sourdough in Germany. Well, there is a bread they call sourdough but it's nothing like American sourdough. I'd have to make it myself, and I have no idea how, I don't make breads. (Not sourdough:

    I recently introduced my husband to BLTs, since bacon finally became available at the stores in our town (abysmal bacon). He is thrilled about BLTs! I often make them in miniature (due to the tiny thin bacon) and they're great. My mom sent me Best Foods mayo, which is as important as bacon to a BLT. I cannot make BLTs with German bread though, or else you won't taste anything but the bread. I have to buy American bread (, which is unobtrusive, flavorless soft bread.

  4. Ooh that tomato jam looks amazing! Maybe I'll try it when I've finished pickling all these damn courgettes

  5. Tomato jam, what an excellent idea!


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