Turning fully ripe Summer/Fall tomatoes into jam is a winsome, and unusual, way to artfully extend their season into winter. I especially like this rendition of tomato jam for its distinctive seasoning, a sweet/savory balance boldly underwritten with allspice.
Allspice is the dried berry of P. dioica, a New World plant native to the Antilles Islands, southern Mexico, and Central America. It’s not a mix of spices, rather a single berry, and got its culinary name from the British, who described its taste as like a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove, and dubbed it “allspice.” The whole berries, crushed right before using for best effect, lend a pleasingly exotic aroma and warm flavor to foods from pastries to sausages and lots in between.
Tomato Allspice Jam adds a jazz note to meat, seafood, or grain compositions. Fun variations abound: Use it as a colorful garnish for a cheese and cracker platter. In place of mustard, glorify your hot dog with a slather of it. Spruce up a dish of vanilla ice cream with a dollop on top. Make a company-worthy snack, like Rick does, of crostini spread with Tomato Allspice Jam, topped with feta and Parmesan cheeses, and re-toasted to melt the topping.
Makes about 1 cup
2 pounds summer ripe tomatoes, such as Early Girls, romas, or heirlooms, cut into 1″ to 1 1/2″ chunks
1 tablespoon packed dark brown sugar
8 allspice berries, ground right before using with a spice grinder or crushed with a mallet (1/4 teaspoon)
1/8 teaspoon red chili flakes
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice
- Combine all the ingredients in a large (2 1/2 to 4-quart) microwave bowl, stir to mix well, and microwave uncovered for 10 minutes.
- Stir and microwave uncovered 10 to 14 minutes more, until the mixture is boiling briskly and turning to “candy” around the edges. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, mix well, and set aside to cool.
- Serve at room temperature or, better, refrigerate overnight before using for the flavor to deepen and mellow. Will keep in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 weeks.
Photography by Rick Wise. Food styling by Victoria and Rick Wise.