This summer, we had the opportunity to grow a half dozen varieties of tomato for the Canadian Seed Library, a project of Seeds of Diversity, an exceptional non-profit dedicated to collecting, preserving and sharing heritage seeds.
As one of about sixty growers from across Canada for this project, we’re obliged to plant the seeds they send us, tend them well, document our results and then send back some seed so that they can be put back into the library for the future. (All seeds have a limited shelf-life, so need to be grown out every so often to get fresh seed and reset the clock.)
In the interest of ensuring a healthy amount of genetic diversity, we need to grow many more plants of each variety than would be needed just for seed, so we now find ourselves with an abundance of unique tomatoes. We’ll be exploring recipes that suit each of these varieties over the next couple of weeks.
Our first tomato from the Library is a top-notch paste tomato called Federle. (You can see it front-and-center in the image above.) It’s big, dense, low in seeds, and very flavourful. R. W. Richardson of New York introduced this variety to Seed Savers Exchange (an American organization similar to our own Seeds of Diversity) in 1991. He had obtained the tomato through a seed swap with a gardener from West Virginia–its previous history is unknown.
Tomato jam is the perfect use for a tomato like this; the long simmer concentrates the bold flavour. Once finished, this jam is perfect smeared on a cracker with soft goat cheese. It’s also a great addition on a plate of cured meats and cheeses or as an out-of-this-world condiment for a grilled cheese sandwich.
Try this recipe with any ripe paste tomatoes you can find and you won’t be disappointed!
An exceptional sweet and savory condiment that goes perfectly with soft cheese.
- 1 ½ pounds good ripe paste tomatoes (our Federle’s were perfect for this), cored and coarsely chopped
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1 tablespoon fresh grated or minced ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon salt
- if you like spice, fresh or dried peppers (jalapeno, chili flakes, etc) can be added to taste
Although we prefer this version, where the sugar adds a sticky sweetness that makes it feel like jam, some commenters on the original recipe suggest reducing the amount of sugar. Trust your taste buds.
- Combine all ingredients in a heavy pot then bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently.
- Reduce heat and let simmer, stirring once in awhile until mixture has consistency of thick jam after 90 minutes, or more. Take care to ensure it doesn’t burn to the bottom of the pot, which becomes more likely the longer it cooks.
- When ready, pour into jars and put in your fridge. You can also put this jam into sterilized jars and process them in a boiling water bath. With intact seals, unopened jars of tomato jam will last up to two years. Kept in the fridge, it will keep for at least 6 months.