Green Tomato and Jalapeno Jam

Green Tomato and Jalapeno Jam

If there’s one thing that I absolutely cannot stand, it’s wasting vibrant, perky produce. But when a recipe calls for only 1 tbl of fresh, minced herb and the store only sells them in gargantuan bunches, my palms sweat as I begin planning my week’s menu all around this stupid little herb, just so every last bit of it gets used. Cooking is no longer fun when I have to come up with concoctions like Chocolate Parsley Ice Cream, Oooey, Gooey, Caramel Oregano Buns or even Lucky Charms with Marjoram Sprinkles just to avoid the guilt of being a wasteful human being and risk bad veggie karma.

Wouldn’t it be cool if produce stores sold herbs by the fraction of an ounce? Like, I could go and pinch a teeny, tiny little bud of dill that weighed 2 grams, because that’s all the recipe called for. I’d gladly pay double the price just so I don’t have to open my refrigerator door and have this dill monster shaking its now soggy, flaccid fist at me, screaming, “Curse you, vegetable sinner!”

Last fall, inspired by my friend, Jan, I began planting my own herb and vegetable garden to combat this problem. I had visions of running outside on a whim, caressing my beautiful, lively herbs, inhaling its sweet, grassy fragrance, and only plucking what I needed for tonight’s supper. Dreamily, I purchased 3 tomato vines, 6 different herbs, a selection of 4 gourmet lettuces, broccoli, 3 chili peppers, and 3 lime trees. I could hardly wait!

It’s been 4 months. So, you wanna know what really happened? Well, the plants grew fast and furious – the tomatoes shot up 3 feet in one month and started popping out hundreds of green tomatoes, the herbs went hopping mad and took over the entire side of the lanai, especially the mint, which began its hostile takeover of garlic chives. The colossal broccoli leaves cannibalized all available sunlight and left poor chili peppers to crane its neck this way and that just to reach a spot of warmth.

The garden totally consumed me – from figuring out what to do with a bucket of lettuce leaves every other day to scolding mint bully to back the hell off of chives. I began giving away bouquets of herbs to friends, neighbors, the mailman. I left bags of tomatoes in unlocked cars at the gas station. I hid herbs in my purse, pouncing on anyone browsing in the herb section, “Hey, ya want some free herbs?” And no, Thai Basil is not smokable.

It was bad, outta control bad. Thankfully, the “Giant Arctic Florida Freeze of 2008” happened in January and the frost took down about half of my crops.

BEFORE AFTER ARCTIC FLORIDA FREEZE

I KNOW! I KNOW! Slap me. I bragged about my tomato harvest on Christmas Eve! Some weather god up there must have heard me say, “neener neener boo-boo!” and POOF! The Giant Arctic Florida Freeze was all my fault. I take full responsibility and in the future will think twice before rubbing the Florida sunshine in someone else’s freezing ass.

Well, in the end, peace has once again descended upon the Steamy Kitchen household and a happy medium with my garden has been discovered. The frost left me with straggly bits of cilantro and mint, a few peppers and a big bucket of fallen green tomatoes. My good friend, Jeremy of Cork Restaurant in Sarasota, shared with me his recipe for Green Tomato & Jalapeno Jam. It’s heavenly sweet heat slathered in a simple grilled chicken sandwich.

In case you are wondering…

We Tampa Bay Floridians are a bunch of pussies. Keep in mind that The Giant Arctic Florida Freeze happened early January, which is normally the middle of the frickin’ winter in the United States.

NEWS HEADLINES: because our reporters have nothing else to sensationalize

“Tampa’s Massive Arctic Blast”
“Tampa Braces for Deep Freeze”
“Record Lows as Tampans Prepare for Winter Freeze”

The freeze indeed did happen. Just for like 2 hours. REALLY! For 2 whole entire hours, the citizens of my community did not know what to do. We were scared shitless.

THE REALITY

January 2nd: flip flops, shorts
**January 3rd: flip flops, jeans, light jacket, socks** <–THE FREEZE. I wore socks with my flip flops. Think GHETTO-Geisha.
January 4th: flip flops, jeans, light jacket
January 5th: flip flops, shorts

You don’t believe me? OMG. Watch this short clip – if you look realllly hard, you’ll find traces of The Giant Arctic Florida Freeze. And it only froze under that tree cuz a homeless man must have pissed under it.

The famous 2-headed broccoli

but only one of them tasted sweet…the other tasted slightly mischievous

2nd photo – from left to right…alligator pond, herb box, salad greens, broccoli, lemongrass.

Oh, and that mysterious, handsome object behind the plants?
I was a
BAD, BAD girl when husband went away!

Green Tomato and Jalapeno Jam

from Chef Jeremy of Cork Restaurant
This isn’t a typical sweet breakfast jam – this is a savory, sweet and spicy jam great on sandwiches, grilled fish/chicken. Think of cranberry sauce on turkey type of combo.

Simply AWESOME.

4 jalapenos, stems & seeds removed, sliced
1 cup loosely packed cilantro and mint steams and leaves (the ratio of each is up to your taste)
2” section of ginger, chopped
5 cloves of garlic, smashed
½ cup cider vinegar
2 tbl soy sauce
1 lb green tomatoes (skin removed and chopped)
3 cups sugar

In a blender or food processor, blend the jalapenos, herbs, ginger, garlic, soy sauce and cider vinegar till smooth. Add the mixture to a heavy bottom pot with the sugar and tomatoes. Place on the heat, bring to a simmer and cook on low till glossy and thick, about 15 minutes. Make sure you stir occasionally to avoid the jam from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Comments 63

  1. Mona

    I love herbs too, and just like you, i always get very tempted to buy loads and loads of cilantro and mint leaves while doing the grocery.. But Alas! I just cannot make out what is the most effective way to store them all ‘fresh’ for a long time.. :-( Enjoyed reading your post. I too plan to make a little herb garden in my backyard this summer, just waiting impatiently for it..

  2. Helen

    Oh, yeah. I can relate. Several years, hundreds of dollars, probably hundreds of billable hours and much dirt on the floor later, I have pared my indoor window herb garden down to the things that are either, shall we say, drought tolerant, or yummy enough for me to bang my head against a wall to keep them alive against the odds. Rosemary (loves my big window, currently a monster), chives (low-maintenance, thank god), sorrel (practically a weed… takes a lickin, keeps on… don’t use it very often but it doesn’t seem to mind), sage, bay leaf, thyme (finally coming into its own and catching up with rosemary), oregano and tarragon. It’s the tarragon that really gets me… I’ve been through more grief with the stupid tarragon. I even ordered this weird swampy bacteria stuff over the internet to try to rid it (organically) of fungus gnats (but there’s still definitely a colony of… something… living in it… aaaarrrgh!). But still it soldiers on… there are a whole bunch of sprouts now keeping the one spindly remaining branch company.

    If I can kill whatever is living in the tarragon, I’ll re-seed some basil for the summer.

    I found that parsley and cilantro kept well enough in the fridge (I agree with Chris, #42) that it made more sense to just buy it. I keep it in a water glass on the fridge door, and periodically fresh cut the bottoms as you would flowers if it seems to be wilting. I don’t bother to cover it. It easily lasts 2+ weeks, and generally gets used before it dies. (Key, though, is keeping leaves out of the water… otherwise you’ll get fridge swamp.)

    Other things I found I used infrequently enough that it was easier to buy (and easier to forgive yourself for throwing out the extra… so maybe it was all just an elaborate measure in social engineering. Aimed at myself.).

  3. Cynthia

    We’re being ravished by African snails so my entire potted herb-garden is gone :( all I have left is a sturdy rosemary plant.

  4. Tracy

    I agree with you about the herbs. Why do they sell parsley in such huge frickin’ bunches anyway? And I warn you, you will be fighting the mint for the rest of your life if you don’t kill it NOW.

    And don’t get me started on your weather. My mom and sister both live in Sarasota. My mom will say, “I’m glad I didn’t golf today, because it was only 60 degrees.” After a long unsympathetic silence from me, she’ll say, “you know, 60 feels a lot colder here.” NO IT DOESN’T. Put on a SWEATER.

    1. kari

      Just throw the extra parsley on a sheet pan and on low heat (oven) dry it…or try the microwave…crumble and put up in a jar for the season…I do this non stop with all of my herbs and it is amazing…

  5. Phil

    Jaden,

    Do you think I could substitute Splenda for the sugar? I was thinking maybe 3/4 Splenda & 1/4 real sugar.
    What would this do to the consistency?

    Thanks, Phil W.

  6. SteamyKitchen

    Hey mango girl!

    No tartness at all. It’s the perfect combo of sweet, salty, spicy. I should have really called it a “chutney”!

    jaden

  7. B

    Dear Steamy Kitchen,

    I just tried to make your green tomato chutney/jam recipe tonight. Though, the flavors is very nice, the cooking time of 15 minutes was quite inaccurate. I followed your recipe precisely and it too me almost 2 hours to get the right consistency. Can you please explain in more detail about cooking time and temperatures.
    Also, can you recommend a natural, non artificial sugar substitute?
    Thank you, B

    1. SteamyKitchen

      Hey there! It really shouldn’t have taken 2 hours! Water content of the tomatoes may have affected your timing? The jam should be thick and glossy, coating the back of a wooden spoon.

      Instead of sugar, you can use 2/3 measurement of agave syrup.

  8. B

    Hi SteamyKitchen,

    Thanks very much for your response. Well something certainly went wrong in that 2 hours. It was taking so long to thicken, that I brought it to a boil for a while until it was “glossy and thick” on the stove. I then let it cool last night and I stored it in an air tight container. Today-24hrs later- the jam has turned into a goopy, super thick, hard to spread, glue-y paste. Could bringing it to a boil have been the problem? Is there any ingredient you can suggest to dilute it to the right consistency. All this said the flavor is still nice.
    Also, I found your recipe through Kevin at Closet Cooking. He suggests 45 minutes to your 15. I am wondering why such a extreme discrepancy in cooking time?
    thank you and looking forward to your response, B

  9. Fla

    Dear Steamy Kitchen I just try to make you green tomatoes jalapeño jam recipe and the 15 minutes was quite inaccurate. Also three cups of sugar was to much for just one pound of green tomatoes.After let it cook for an hour it was ok,but nothing of what I was expected.

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