Try It: Tomato Jam

Spiced Tomato JamTomatoes may be a summertime staple, but you can turn them into an autumn (or anytime) treat by making Spiced Tomato Jam. In this recipe, traditional tomato flavor is warmed by the addition of allspice, cinnamon, and cloves, sweetened by sugar, and brightened up by lemon rind and juice. The lemon juice also helps make sure the acidity is where it needs to be to get a good gel. In addition to the ingredients mentioned, you’ll also need a box of powdered pectin.Spiced Tomato Jam Ingredients (2)

Peeling tomatoes may seem like an unimportant extra step, but the texture of the skin was determined to be undesirable and product testing did not include considerations of how the skin would alter the final product safety. So, scald, peel, and chop tomatoes as described in the procedure. Our canning recommendations are meant to be followed as written, since that is how they were developed and changing ingredients or steps may influence not only the quality but also the safety of the final product.

Complete recipe, procedure and boiling water canning process times are on the NCHFP website: Spiced Tomato Jam.

DSC03157People also sometimes ask if they can use commercially canned tomatoes in our tomato recipes, but quantity, consistency, and even acidity could be different in commercially canned tomatoes as compared to fresh tomatoes, so we do not recommend using them when fresh tomatoes are called for in a canning recipe.

Wondering what to do with tomato jam? Try serving it on a crackers and cheese platters, smothered over baked brie, or as a condiment with meat dishes. It’s also nice to taste simply spread on toast!

New! Summer Squash Relish

IMG_2311We’re excited to now have a recipe for Summer Squash Relish on the National Center website. You may recall our post about Squash Pickles which are a take on a classic dilled pickle product, flavored with dill seed, garlic, and vinegar. In contrast, the Summer Squash Relish produces a more sweet and tangy flavor, highlighted by cider vinegar, sugar, and turmeric (as well as celery and mustard seed).

Once those yellow squash and zucchinis start to come in, they tend to be prolific, so it’s nice to have something to do with them in addition to crudité, stir-fry, and more zucchini bread than even your neighbor’s neighbors know what to do with. This relish goes great on hot dogs and hamburgers, or it may be used to add delicious interest to sautéed greens, potato salad, and other prepared dishes.crookneck squash

This Summer Squash Recipe can be made with yellow squash, zucchini, or a combination of both. We especially liked combining about ¾ yellow squash with ¼ zucchini. It is NOT for use with other types of squash such as winter squashes.

zucchini with blossomDirections say to shred the squash in a food processor, but this step may be done by hand instead.

Also, we used Vidalia onions in recipe development, but you could use any variety of onion per your own personal preference. Another subtle option that you may choose is to substitute celery salt in place of celery seed if you prefer that taste.

Totally Tomatillos

tomatillosHusk tomatoes, also known as tomatillos, can be very productive plants, producing 64 to 200 fruits per plant in a season. Tomatillos don’t like freezing, so should be planted after any danger of last frost. Planted as such, they will flower mid-June and ripen mid-July.

So then, what to do with too many tomatillos? A few options:

Tomatillos can be canned, whole. However, keep in mind that home-canned Tomatillos will begreen tomatoes cooked until tender and softened, so if you like the firmer texture of tomatillos then you may prefer one of our other options.

green tomatoesTomatillo Green Salsa is probably the most popular way to prepare, preserve, and serve husk tomatoes. You could also substitute green tomatoes in this recipe instead of tomatillos (but remember it is important not to make any changes to the proportion of tomatoes/tomatillos to lemon or lime juice, and that lemon or lime juice CANNOT be substituted for vinegar in this recipe). This recipe and directions are also available en Español: Salsa verde de tomatillo.

In contrast, Tangy Tomatillo Relish contains vinegar instead of lemon or lime juice, bell peppers instead of hot peppers and it also highlights the more unusual ingredient jicama. And that jicama provides a nice slightly crunchy texture to this relish compared to most others. The relish could be scooped like a salsa, spread on top of tacos, or mixed into prepared dishes.

tomatillos in skinFor more about home-growing of tomatillos see Tomatillo by a Sonoma County Master Gardener with the University of California and for more about large-scale growing of tomatillos see the publication Tomatillo by University of Kentucky.

Beaucoup Blueberries

blueberries in bowlBetween June and July chances are pretty good that you can get your hands on fresh blueberries, whether from a grocery store, a farm market, or your own backyard. People increasingly like blueberries for their nutrition and health benefits, but people have liked them for a long time just because they taste so good! Whether you prefer the larger, commonly cultivated highbush blueberries or the smaller, wild lowbush blueberries, you have many options for preserving the blueberry bounty.

Canning Whole Berries

If you like to add whole berries overtop oatmeal or if you haven’t decided exactly how you’ll use them later, then you might want to simply can Berries – Whole using a boiling water canner. You have the option to add a sugar syrup or juice to further sweeten or flavor the berries, or you can just add water, as specified in the directions.

Canning Berry Syrup

Berry Syrup can be made with or without the inclusion of whole berries, as recommended in 3crushedfruitthe directions. First you will crush then strain a juice made of the berries (setting aside 1 or 2 cups of berries to add whole, if desired), then you will heat it with sugar into a thickened syrup.

Canning Blueberry Pie Filling

For a pie filling that’s ready-to-go into the oven any time of year, prepare and can Blueberry Pie Filling. For this recipe, you will need to plan ahead to make sure you have Clear Jel® available.

rolling boil

Blueberry Jams

Blueberries are lower in natural pectin than is needed to form a good gel-structure, so you’ll add commercial pectin or combine blueberries with another, more pectin-rich fruit to make blueberry jams. There’s nothing wrong with a plain Blueberry Jam, but you could also try these varieties of blueberry jam jarsBlueberry Jams combined with other fruits and flavors: Blueberry-Spice Jam, Spiced Blueberry-Peach Jam, and Blueberry Currant Jam.

Freezing

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA simple way to make those sweet berries last longer and remain versatile for purposes to be determined at a later time is to freeze them. Freeze blueberries using the tray pack method for best results. Blueberries freeze well even without sugar added, and then you don’t have to calculate that amount of added sugar into your final recipe if you decided to cook or bake with them. Remember these General Freezing Tips for Packaging and Labeling Frozen Foods.

Drying

Last but not least, you could dry blueberries into a lightweight trail-side snack or granola ingredient. Just be sure to puncture the side walls of the berries so that they do not trap in moisture and get case-hardened (use a toothpick to poke all the way through each berry before drying).blueberries on a dryer tray

To learn more about blueberries, visit our University of Georgia blueberry page, and for even more about blueberries, check out the national eXtension blueberry site.