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.


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.


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.


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.

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Comments 65

  1. FlaNBoyant

    don’t you just hate that? i HATE with utter passion wasting fresh herbs.. like mint!! i buy it to make MOJITOS, etc.. but never use enough to kill it all…

    it’s such a task being single… 🙂

    jam looks really good! though soy sauce, really?? hmm. would have thought of that.

  2. Suji

    Oh mint!!! i am dying to find good fresh mint and you are growing it in abundance. When I do get it I chop and freeze it in ice-trays or just make chutney’s out of it. Oh god, I can think of million ways to use mint but Mojitos come to my mind first followed by mint pulao :).

    Didn’t you kill us all with jeremy’s dukkah and now this? why oh why do you do this 😉

  3. Toni

    My husband used to make green tomato relish and several other things (can’t remember now what) with all the green tomatoes we harvested at season’s end in New Mexico. And don’t even utter the word “zucchini” to me! Not unless you’re planning on feeding the Turkish army from one season!

    But yes, unless herbs can be perennials (like they are here in San Diego), there’s no point in growing them either – it’s just a more labor intensive way to waste herbs!

    Speaking of which, thanks for the ones you sent to me!!!!!

  4. Kitt

    I love the clean gardening slate that winter affords. You just got a little taste of it! Put your mint and other spreading herbs in pots (you can bury them in the ground with the bottoms cut out) and they won’t take over the yard.

  5. Melinda

    I did not hear about your 2 hour arctic weather snap. Has this destroyed the orange crops?
    I love your chutney jam made from the green tomatoes…except for the cilantro bit. (yuck) I know…I am the only person in the world who hates cilantro.

  6. Karen

    If you have leftover sprigs of mint, just put them in a glas of water for a couple of days, until they begin to grow little white roots. Then you can plant them in a small container with earth, and you’ll have a bunch of mint available whenever you need it! Don’t plant it in the garden though, cause it grows and spreads like mad; put it out in a container and you’ll enjoy it for a looooong time!

  7. argus

    Hope you had fun frolicking with the happy medium in your herb garden — was he cute, Mrs Steamy? 😉

    I swear I read the one bit as “… Tampons prepare for hinter freeze.”

  8. kate

    I have a herb garden too , my basil grew out really fast and not all i have is dried out shrubs with loads of seeds, and hehe just like your my mint took over and spread like mad fire all over my chilli plants. My tomatoes gave me one harvest and died out, so I’ve put new saplings all over again, and i even grew some lovely Chinese cabbage , but the other day we got a goat for slaughtering and someone left him loose in the garden and he chomped into my cabbage ! Its no where close to cold here , bloody hot intact , but the soil here doesn’t support many vegetables and herbs. Thats why most of the stuff is imported in the country. But what i look fwd to is my mango tree bearing fruit … i can see them all over , and i just planted some zatar yesterday , fresh cuttings from a Lebanese friend. Can never imagine doing all this in Hong Kong … haha ! K now thats a lot about me.back to your chutney …
    i am definately going to make this … firstly as I’ve never tried eating or cooking green tomatoes. Any serving suggestions ? what do they go best with … ??

  9. LunaPierCook

    Hmmm, there’s an idea. An herb co-op! Host the plants at your house, sell say $5 memberships in the thing, members can come over to take what they want when they need it … nothing gets wasted!

    Or, even better, sell it in your online store in the amounts you mentioned! Oh right, you don’t have an online store … what was I thinking … 😉

  10. Happy Cook

    I know what you mean every time it is a huge amount of herbs they seel in the shops. Sometimes i freeze them.

    Green tomato jam looks delish. Must be excelent with cold meat or sandwiches

  11. Red Icculus

    I know there is nothing better than fresh herbs, but you could always dry them. Freshly dried is still ten times better than the stuff you buy in a jar at the store.

  12. Mike

    I had a bunch of plants going nicely as well in my backyard and the cold snap hit FL while I was away on vacation and couldn’t do anything about it. I came home to a plant graveyard with few survivors bearing witness to the carnage. 🙁 There used to be basil everywhere and always a handful of hot peppers ready when I needed, along with just the right amount of herbs. Now all that remains: oregano, mint, and some chives. Time for me to start planning for this year again…

    The jam looks great. I recently was given a jar of something similar but still haven’t cracked it open just yet. Sounds like a good reminder that I ought to…

  13. one food guy

    What a great idea for green tomatoes. Our freeze in Boston usually occurs in the fall, but we too have an abundance of green tomatoes still hanging on the vines.

    I also feel the same way about wasting fresh herbs. I kick myself every time I have to throw out a bag of parsley or dill that has turned black and melted in the fridge! Ugh!

  14. Christine

    Hey, being that it’s winter up here, and our bought tomatoes look terrible — but not green, do you think that I could sub out the tomatoe for tomatillo? I have the same issue with herbs, and decided to whiz up my leftover cilantro and basil with a chunk of ginger and some lime juice. Then I froze it. Theory being that I could break off a chunk and add it to my thai curries. Theory remains untested. But, hey, at least it was a shot. This post alas came days too late.

  15. RecipeGirl

    I have the same gripes about fresh herbs!! Last summer I also had visions of harvesting my garden and utilizing it nightly until we had a huge HEAT spell and we were out of town. My lovely tomato plants took a turn for the worst, but luckily the herbs survived (and are still surviving). – I’m in San Diego so similar weather to you- Just getting ready to plant some more stuff!

    The jam looks great!

    BTW… your site took FOREVER to load this morning!! Did you just recently add that Foodie blogroll thingy? It seems like that was causing the holdup.

  16. Scott

    I’ve just started my own herb garden in the Florida sun, but using slightly different principles to allow some of the herbs to shelter themselves from the harsh sun during the summer months. Also, since things are raised, there is adequate drainage to put up with 1-2″ day-long rainstorms like we had yesterday.

    See what you think:

    If all goes well, I’m also going to do a keyhole garden to grow veggies:

    Oh, and last night I got to (finally!) enjoy the first fruits from my orange tree! A screwdriver never tasted so good as when made with hand-juiced backyard oranges.

  17. Sarah Marie

    My grandmother used to make jalapeno jelly and serve it to us with breakfast on toast. Thanks for bringing back good memories with this post! Your version with green tomatoes looks great.

  18. Grifola frondosa

    Watch out planting oregano. Like mint, it’ll take over your garden and is almost impossible to remove as it sends out runners seeking any sort of ground, between bricks or any space it’ll grow.

    Last summer here in CT, I planted 6 started basil plants so I could start harvesting a few leaves at a time, and planted a small area of seeds so I could have basil throughout the summer and into the Fall.

    Believe me the 6 started plants were MORE than enough.
    I made a ton of pesto and froze it so I could have the taste of summer throughout the winter and still had plenty to give away.

    A dehydrator is also a solution that’ll use up lots and lots of herbs and reduce it down to more than you’ll ever use.

    One thing about gardening – you learn something new every year.

    For example, this year I’m going to invest in some simple garden labels so I don’t pick up started baby plants that I’ve mistaken for weeds.

    Many years ago, I learned that you don’t need as many plants as you think.
    For example, I like broccoli. I don’t like 4 or 5 heads all at the same time which inevitable seems to happen… same with string beans. A few fresh ones are great a bushel at a time – not so great.

    And once again, beware of squash whether it’s zucchini or yellow squash.
    I planted 3 yellow squash and was giving it away all summer.
    Any place, any appointment, anybody who would take them.

    Up here, tomatoes are easy to give away. Squash is a challenge.
    The old joke is that gardeners simple put them in people’s cars and run.

    Enjoy your new hobby – it’s still worth it.

  19. cindy

    i have an herb garden too, it is the only part of my yard that hubby knows that if he messes with, he’s dead meat! (he’s a hacker gardener…if it looks green, it’s a weed…hack away and kill it!) i needed a recipe for green tomatoes, i end up with lots of them here, the season is done before the tomatoes are! that one looks delicious!

  20. katy

    love it! i’m jealous — i have a tiny pot of basil growing on my windowsill, but that’s it! did you know that you can’t even buy herb seeds in NYC at this time of year?!? none of the grocery stores or whole foods carry them until spring. so sad!

  21. Susan at Sticky,Gooey,Creamy,Chewy

    Hey! Speak for yourself! I’m not a weather pussy! I wait all year for that 2 hours of nippy, cool weather we get. 😉 Actually, I remember that day. It really was cold! I ran around all day in my flip flops and ski jacket.

    So it is you who is responsible for murdering my basil crop!

  22. Deborah

    Well, my garden is buried underneath about 2 feet of snow right now!!

    This jam sounds wonderful!

  23. Kat

    luckily, I had planted my tomatoes in a pot, so I could bring them in the house. my basil and parsley are under plastic tarps and so far okay, even with the snow we had. the jam looks delicious.

  24. DurianDurian

    I grow all of the ingredients except the ginger in my garden, so will file this away for summer.

    I always have a surfeit of herbs at the end of the summer and dry and freeze them with great success.

  25. Helene

    To all of you wondering what to do with your green tomatos…haven’t ya’ll heard of FRIED GREEN TOMATOS? Here in the south they’re on almost every restaurant menu and easy to fix. Just lighty coat them with flour (so the batter holds on), dip into batter and fry in a frypan ’til golden…oh yummy!

  26. Brave Sir Robin

    First things first, is there a worse word in the English language than flaccid?

    Enough said.

    I’m with Helene on the fried green tomatoes. Yum! (except I use a mixture of flour and cornmeal.

    There is also a recipe I have in an old Junior Service League cookbook for green tomato cake that is awesome. I’ll look it up tonight when I get home.

    My herb garden drowned last year. Even the Rosemary. Only the mint came back.

    (Of course)

  27. Mansi

    I totally agree with you on the mini herb packets thing! its so hard to use a teeny-weeny bit from a bagful or mint or basil or parsely and see th rest of it rotting! the jam, or I guess Indians would call it “chutney” looks great, btw!

  28. Food Rockz Man

    So have have you to blame for the artic blast! I was on vacation in Orlando from Dec. 31 through Jan. 5 and it sucked! It was very, very cold and windy . . . not “very, very” cold by DC standards . . . but I spent all kinds of money and blew vacation days and flew all the way to Florida looking for warm sunshine. Damn you, Jaden . . . daaaaaaaaaamn you (shaking clenched fists in the air)!

  29. Jenny

    I totally covet that herb garden! Not only do I live in Chicago (where the Great Arctic Freezes happen quite a bit more frequently), but there isn’t consistent sunlight anywhere in my teeny tiny yard.

    Also, that brown ribbon on the jar is adorable.

  30. Christima

    I am battling Herb Shame right now- the cilantro in my pasta tonight came from a HUGE bunch at the grocery store, and you can’t overload a dish with cilantro, or the flavour simply becomes Cilantro Cilantro with a side of Cilantro.

    Also, weather? Hah. Here in Massahusetts we got three inches of snow last night and somewhere after that it started raining. It hasn’t stopped all day. Six- to eight-inch deep rivers of slush are carting away small dogs as we speak. I wore Shoes That Are Not Flip-Flops for the first time in months- mind you, I have never worn socks with flip-flops before.

  31. amy purple

    That’s really a shame that you lost those crops! You’re kinda making me feel bad that we often don’t find enough uses for our fresh herbs and put them in the trash! 🙁

  32. Rebecca

    I love it! This post has me in hysterics! When we went to visit my dad in FL in Dec., we were like maniacs running through the farmer’s market buying fresh produce ‘in season’-Dec. in Denver dried pinto beans are the only thing in season. Lucky, lucky you! I’m imagining the flip flops with socks-hehe.

  33. Rachel

    The mint takes over everything! My husband says that you can just throw mint seeds on the ground and it will survive. The mint bully has certainly visited my house as well.

    But oh do I love mint in my lemonades and iced tea all summer long, and it helps keep bugs away!

  34. rita the plant ASSasin

    my supernatural talent = killing plants (any plants, hmm, except the ones which are already dead)

    i’ve recently visited hk’s prince edward flower market and pointed at almost everything there, saying “i’ve killed this one before, & tat one & those ones too”

    i tried keeping a pot of mint. From this post & comments i learnt (with sooo much amazement) that mint is a dominatrix bully. And I (ofcourse), still managed to kill it in no time. Maybe u guys should call me to lay my hands on your mint, or maybe just give your mint “the look” (i can feel mints shuddering with fear from here as i type)

    supernaturally, i might just kill them in no time

  35. Chris

    I had such a laugh! I’ve found a great way to keep coriander alive in the fridge. I plunk the whole bunch into a plastic container with water, throw a plastic bag(from the produce aisle) over it and it “lives” fairly well for up to 2 wks. I too hate to see herbs go to waste! I have also seen that vietnamese mint(aka laksa leaves) do very well indoors(which I will try to do that next winter). I grew mine last summer outdoors by literally throwing a bunch I had bought from a grocery store into the ground! At the end of summer, I wrapped the leaves with the sticky saran wrap before placing in the freezer. Still looks ok though the taste is a bit less intense.

  36. Lynn

    So, you grow herbs in the herb box. Lettuce in the lettuce box. And alligators in the alligator pond? Which Steamy Kitchen recipe will be featuring fresh gator meat?

  37. didally

    I started planting some herbs last year. Just a pot of basil and lemon balm. The basil is doing very well. But the mister don’t like the taste of basil, this really limits what I want to cook with the basil.

    I also wished that the markets sell fresh herbs in small quantity, such a waste when I need to throw the rotted ones away.

  38. chunky

    hi steamy! i love your pictures…the jam looks so yummy and the colors are so amazing. too bad about the 2-hour disaster, but no help here…can’t grow anything myself. the jam, i must admit, is unusual for me, but very interesting…

  39. Mango Power Girl

    Here is Seattle, we get a leftover of lot more green tomatoes than red in our gardens at the end of summer. Last year, I tried baking them and they were wonderful, but this sounds great. I am curios if this savory jam had a lot of tartness to it or over-powered by cider vinegar at all? Love your shots & blog…very inspiring 🙂

  40. Starre

    I grew green herbs in Fla. in the seventies. Never wasted anything ;0)

    Love the flips and socks image We must use the same dresser
    Thanks for the smile

  41. Nicole from: For the Love of Food

    If you have an open air market in your area, you can probably get just as much herbs as you need. In Germany, at the market stand that I shop at, if I need 1 sprig of parsley, that’s what I get, if I need 3 celery sticks, that’s what I get. And, if I need 1/2 or 1/3 a papaya, that’s what I get. It’s really great.

  42. susan g

    Cilantro: cilantro chutney — we make one supposedly Tibetan
    Dill: whole huge bunch goes in the freezer in a plastic bag, just snip what you need
    Lemon balm: what a discovery, clean taste of lemon as tea
    No to the trash, make a compost pile as a final resting place — they will reincarnate
    Green tomatoes: my father tried to make pickles (whole) like he had as a kid, never satisfied; I’ve even seen pie/quiche type recipes

  43. Ady

    Hi Jaden how are you ?
    In italy we use to eat some jam, like yours, with pecorino cheese, it’s delicious!
    Hugs and kisses

  44. Single Guy Chef

    I have a pour pale yellow bunch of cilantro in a cup inside my refrigerator right now that I forgot about! I wish they created a herb bar at the grocery stores like how they have a salad bar and you pick and choose what you want then pay by the weight.

    Jaden, you should lead a revolution to change the way herbs are sold in America! (That’s after you deal with your fast-growing garden.)

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