I am completely utterly besotted with my Cheddar Cheese Scones. Who knew that something so quick and easy could taste so very very good. I stored them, wrapped in wax paper, in a ziploc plastic bag, and today they were fresh, moist and tender. I toasted one for breakfast, and started dreaming up things that would be delicious with this gorgeous cheesy rich bread…. and suddenly, Im not sure from where, chili tomato marmalade popped into my head.
Now let me be honest here. Ive never made marmalade before. I have made apple butter and simple jams, so I decided to basically apply those principles – fruit (tomato and lemon), a bit of water, sugar and low low steady heat. I also wanted to scent my marmalade – because as much as I love the scones, their richness was calling out for something tart and sweet and hot and wild to augment and accent them. Chili and ginger and all spice seemed like a good mix… and oh they were!
In jam making, youre supposed to add equal amounts of sugar to fruit. So for example, I had six cups worth of chopped tomatoes, which called for six cups of sugar. But I just couldnt do it. Since I was venturing into uncharted territory, I decided to halve the amount of sugar used (plus a bit for the lemon rind). I made up for it by cooking the mixture long and slow and low … and it worked. With patience, and a little stirring (not much, I promise), I created a stunningly pretty and decadent tasting chili tomato marmalade.
You could use this marmalade in so many ways. It would be sublime in a grilled cheese sandwich, as a condiment in a cheese platter, as a replacement for cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving. Its spicy notes are very seasonal and fresh – and its jewel like colour is festive and happy.
Easy to make, in one evening, this marmalade is something you must try for yourself. Its wonderful!
Makes approximately 3 cups marmalade
- 5 lemons
- 1/2 cup + 3 cups light brown sugar
- Approximately 1.4 kg / 3 lb / 6 cups chopped tomatoes – I got a good mix – beef, Holland, Roma, etc.
- 1 tsp all spice
- 1 tsp ginger
- 1 tsp crushed red chili
- 1 tsp mustard seed
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
First, prepare the lemons. Wash them well, and cut off the peel – leaving as much of the pith on the lemon as possible. Chop the peel roughly, and place in a large, heavy bottomed saucepan with 1/2 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of water. Juice 2 of the lemons, and add the juice (should be about 1/2 cup as well) to the mix. Bring to the boil over high heat, lower the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes to soften the peel up.
Skin the remaining lemons of their pith, and chop the flesh up roughly. Set aside.
Put a kettle onto the boil, and prepare the tomatoes for skinning by marking crosses at stem and bottom with a sharp knife. Place all the prepared tomatoes in a large bowl, and when the kettle comes to the boil, cover the tomatoes with boiling water until they are all completely covered. Count to 30, drain the tomatoes, and refresh them under cold water. You should have encouraged a lot of the tomato skin to start to peel off from the flesh. Use a sharp knife to peel the tomatoes (it should be relatively easy), and chop them roughly.
Do not seed the tomatoes – keep the seeds for the marmalade. Tomato seeds have a lot of pectin in them, and will help the marmalade gel.
You should have about 6 cups of chopped tomatoes. Take the lemon peel off the heat, and add the tomatoes directly to the saucepan, along with the chopped lemon that you set aside. Add the all spice, ginger, red chili, mustard seed, salt and balsamic vinegar and stir well to combine. Add the remaining 3 cups of light brown sugar, and place the saucepan back onto the stovetop at medium heat, and bring the entire mixture to the boil, stirring as you do so.
Once the mixture has come to the boil, turn the heat right down to the lowest you can accommodate, and simmer the marmalade, stirring occasionally until thickened to your liking.
I cannot tell you how long it will take for this mixture to morph into marmalade because different tomatoes will gel at different speeds. What I can tell you is this. It took my marmalade about 2 hours, on very low heat, to set up to my liking. The tomatoes will shed a whole load of water, and the entire mixture will seem very loose and thin – like a very light soup. Keep simmering, and watch as the mixture reduces, thickens and darkens in colour. I started out with pale tomatoes, but the cooking process created a ruby red marmalade.
Err on the side of caution. Burnt marmalade is irretrievable, and it does set up and thicken further once taken off the heat. I took mine off when it was thick enough to stand on a spoon, but not thick enough for marmalade. It set up very well as it cooled, and is now very sticky and scrummy and thick. If your marmalade does not set up as you like, put it back onto the heat for half an hour at a time.
Enjoy this morning noon and night, with those you love. Hopefully on a gorgeous Cheddar Scone!