Introduction: Green Tomato & Bacon Jam
It's autumn and time to clear out the tomato patches. When you're finished you have several pounds of lovely green tomatoes but no idea what to do with them? How does a savory sweet green tomato and bacon jam sound? This simple recipe will take even the most inexperienced chef less than 90m from start to finish to make some tasty jam for your burgers, to serve as bruschetta on crusty italian bread, or as an accompaniment to a cheese and wine night.
Step 1: Ingredients and Equipment
To make fast work of this recipe I highly recommend using a good food processor.
Cuisinart or similar food processor
Stainless Steel Skillet or Pan
Strainer or Colander
2 clean Ball brand pint canning jars and lids
stainless steel frying pan
disposable latex or plastic gloves
2 lbs of Green Tomatoes
6 jalapeno peppers
4 cayenne peppers
1 large sweet onion
1 tbsp. kosher salt
1 cup sugar (white)
40 grinds of black pepper (or 1/2 tsp ground black pepper)
3 Tbsp apple vinegar (or apple cider vinegar, or rice wine vinegar)
Reserved green tomato juice
6-8 slices of thick cut bacon
**optional** 1/4 to 1/2 cup dry white wine (pinot grigio)
Slice all the tomatoes in half and put half of them aside. Using your cuisinart or similar food processor use the pulse setting until the first half of your green tomatoes are finely chopped. Place into a strainer or colander with a bowl underneath to catch the liquid. Take the remaining half of the green tomatoes, and pulse them in the food processor until they are roughly chopped into 1/2" (1cm) pieces. Place into your strainer or colander to catch the liquid. Save the green tomato liquid for later while cooking, we'll get to that in a later step. (You can also save any of the leftover green tomato juice in the freezer for making chile verde at a later date)
Rinse out the processor, then roughly process the onion using the pulse button. Place chopped onions into a bowl.
Rinse out the processor. Wear disposable gloves when handling and cutting hot peppers. Clean your hot peppers removing the stem if needed. If you like it spicier leave all the seeds. If you like your jam milder, clean the peppers and remove the seeds before finely pulsing the peppers. Use your bowl scraper to get all the hot peppers out of the processor and place aside in a small bowl.
Don't have a food processor? Use a sharp knife to finely cut up all your ingredients! Watch your fingers.
Step 2: Cooking the Bacon and Tomatoes Off
Go into your beer, bacon, and smoked cheese fridge in the basement and bring up a small slab of bacon to cook off for the jam. If you don't have a beer, bacon, and smoked cheese fridge in your basement I am afraid you are just doing life wrong, fix that quickly! If you don't have homemade bacon read my Instructable on making bacon at home, or you can just go get 8 slices of the supermarket variety, but get a thick cut brand if available. I'd go with 8 slices if it's thin bacon, and 6 slices if it's thick. I'm using 1/4" thick sliced bacon for this jam.
Fry off 6-8 pieces of bacon to JUST UNDER your preferred degree of doneness. Remove from the heat and let cool. After it's cooled, take your sharp knife and cutting board and finely dice it into 1/4" cubes and set it into a non-stick pan to lightly fry off a little more and caramelize. The double cooking gives the bacon a nice texture in the jam.
In a large stainless steel skillet put your green tomatoes, onion, peppers, vinegar, salt, and sugar and apply medium heat. Do not leave the stove after you do this, you will be constantly monitoring and stirring this for the next HOUR as it transforms slowly into a savory jam. I split my tomatoes into two pans to make one sweet jam and one spicer jam (extra pepper mix added to the left pan).
If the mixture gets too dry, reduce the heat and add a little of the green tomato juice that drained off earlier. You can also add some white wine to the tomatoes for an even better tasting jam. I added 1/4 cup of pinot grigio to my tomatoes about halfway through, the wine adds a nice layer of complexity to the tomato bacon jam. Remember: alcohol never cooks off completely, so keep that in mind if members of your family are alcohol-free.
Step 3: Adding the Bacon, Finish Cooking, Jar It Up!
About 40 minutes into cooking the tomatoes, add the twice cooked bacon cubes to the mixture and fold them into the jam making sure to spread them out evenly as you can - you don't need to work the jam too much as this stage as it will start getting thicker and stickier. Continue stirring the jam as it thickens. 10m before the one hour of cooking is up should be the last time you add any additional tomato juice or wine, and to adjust your final seasoning. You can add additional salt (up to 2 tsp.), sugar, and pepper at this time and adjust it to your taste.
Note: If you like your jam firm and more chutney like, use less wine and tomato juice while cooking. If you like your jam wetter and gooier, add additional wine or tomato juice at this time.
The jam is ready when you can pull the sides in with a spatula and it forms a firm cake. Turn the heat off and prepare your jars for canning. Boil your jars for 15m and remove to drainboard. Spoon in the hot mixture, pressing down to remove any air pockets as you go. Place clean lids and rings on each jar.
At this point the jam will keep for 2 weeks in the fridge as it is, 2 months in the freezer, and indefinitely if you pressure can them. Because there is meat in this jam, pressure canning would be the only safe way to preserve this long term. It never lasts more than a week in my house but if you had a large amount of green tomatoes to process you could conceivably jar a dozen or more pints of this and pressure can it for long term storage.
I love serving this jam on crackers with some smoked cheddar or pepper jack cheese. It's great on burgers and sliced sausage sandwiches. It will liven up your fried egg and cheese on a bagel. I've also found it offers a nice acidity when having grilled fish. Spread it on your grilled cheese sandwich before making, you will never eat them ANY OTHER WAY.
You can mash this recipe up with different amounts of tomatoes, onions, change up to different hot or sweet peppers, or add additional spices like cinnamon, cardamom, or ginger. I encourage you all to be creative in the kitchen, experiment with spices, & create your own flavors that you and others in your family will love.
This is the recipe that will make the most fickle green tomato hater a converted fan for life. You will never look at those green tomatoes at the end of the season the same way again after eating this. Happy eating!
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