This easy recipe is one of the best ways to use up the last of the tomato harvest in the Hudson Valley.
Autumn’s rushing in and the tomatoes are petering out, right on schedule. The last of the green ones will eventually ripen indoors, but I like using them to make chutneys, mincemeat, and marmalade. After experimenting over the years, my favorite recipe for tomato marmalade is a tangy one that includes lemons and fresh ginger. My husband thinks he doesn’t like tomato marmalade at all, so I labeled it “lemon-ginger preserve” and he’s happily eating it. Don’t tell.
One trick to getting marmalade or jam to the right consistency is to use a wide, non-reactive pot; the more surface area bubbling away, the faster the evaporation, which helps the mixture set up and be nicely spreadable. All kinds of variables — the juiciness of the tomatoes, the humidity, how fast the mix simmers — affect cooking times. You have to test, but otherwise it’s a really simple recipe.
Green Tomato Marmalade
4 lbs green tomatoes
Juice and zest of 5 lemons
¼ cup fresh ginger, peeled and minced
6 cups sugar
Wash and core the tomatoes (you can leave the skin on), then cut them into small chunks. Put the tomatoes, lemon juice, zest, and ginger into a heavy, wide pot and simmer over medium heat for about an hour, stirring occasionally. Add a little water if it looks as though the mixture might stick.
Add the sugar, stirring until it’s dissolved, then bring to a boil and continue simmering rapidly until the mix sets up and becomes jammy — half an hour or so. Check often and stir to be sure it doesn’t scorch. Before you take the marmalade off the heat, test the consistency by putting a spoonful onto a chilled plate. Wait a minute or two. If it’s still runny, boil the mix for a few minutes more and test again. Or use a jelly thermometer: setting point is 220 degrees.
Pour the marmalade into hot, sterilized jars and seal. You can process the jars in a canning bath for 10 minutes, but I just cap mine and store them in the cellar. Sugar is a preservative, tomatoes are acidic, and boiling the mix will have killed any existing bacteria, so if you sterilize the jars and caps, you shouldn’t have a problem with mold. Once a jar is opened, store it in the fridge.