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Cherry Tomato Jam, a Baby Shower Gift

By: Deanna Linder

I can categorize my life into two main time periods. Before Israel and After Israel.  “Before Israel” consists of the 21 years I spent in the United States and the “After Israel” is made up of the past 7 years, since I moved. In general, these two time periods are characterized very differently. The “Before Israel” can be distinguished by what many Israelis would call an “American movie”- similar to what non-Americans see in the movies and consider reality. The “After-Israel” has been exceptionally different, as I’m sure one could imagine (for example, as I’m writing this now the background noise is chickens in their hens waiting for breakfast).

Every so often, when I go back to the States to visit my family, I also revisit the “American movie”. On my recent trip back, this movie contained a scene which involved a baby shower. Baby showers, in general are unheard of Israel. For those that don’t know, a baby shower is a party to celebrate the pending birth of a child, and usually consists only of women. When my mom decided she wanted to throw me a shower, I got right to task and took advantage of the amazing decorative resources available in the States and got to work.  The options were endless, mostly thanks to the amazing website Etsy [1] which is like E-bay for the creative soul (most sellers will also ship to Israel).  I ordered straws and plates and napkins online. I went to the Pasadena Antique Flea Market [2] and bought antique children’s books, wooden blocks and ball jars to use as centerpieces.


Party favors are a must at these venues and for those I also decided to go the creative route. My mom ordered canning jars from a wholesaler online, and when I got the States I went to the market to see which produce was in abundance and at a good price. Beautifully red and round, cherry tomatoes were the perfect candidate. My mom, who had never heard of cherry tomato jam, was sincerely concerned that I had lost it, but I reassured her that it would be a delight.  The cans of jam added greatly to the decoration of the table, and I was pleased to be contacted by several of the guests following the shower who couldn’t wait to get the recipe.

I’m now back to the “After-Israel” period, and although different, life is just as good here (believe it or not).  But every so often, it’s nice to look back at the “American movie”, and share it with those who haven’t yet seen the film.


Cherry Tomato Jam

Ingredients for around 3 cups

2 pounds (1 kilo) cherry tomatoes, washed and dried

2 tablespoons lemon juice

½ cinnamon stick (optional)

1 pound (500 grams) sugar

Preparation:

1. Place the cherry tomatoes, lemon juice and cinnamon stick (if using) in a large pot over medium heat and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and allow to simmer for 30 minutes. Add the sugar, increasing to medium to heat until coming to a boil, and then reduce the heat to low and continue to cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

2. To check to see if the jam is ready place a small amount of jam on a cold plate and then transfer to the freezer for 2-3 minutes. When you take it out of the freezer, make a line with your finger through the jam. If the line remains, the jam is ready to be poured into the jar. If not, return to heat and retest.

Tips for canning:

Sterilizing:

–       Don’t use jars with any cracks or chips.

–       Place the jar in a large pot filled with hot water until submerged and bring the water to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes, turn off the heat and leave the jar in the water.

–       Using tongs- lift the jar from the pot and place on a clean kitchen towel to fully dry.

Sealing:

–       Pour jam into jar, filling up to a ¼ inch (½ centimeter) from the top. Wipe the rim.

–       Place the lid on and secure tightly. Place the jar into a large pot filled with hot water until submerged and bring to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes and then remove the jar from the water.

–       Using tongs, carefully lift the jar from the pot and place on clean kitchen towels for 24 hours.