Green tomato jam a way out of a jam

As many of you know, I?m pretty good with snappy comebacks. Some folks even say I?m pretty punny. So, when someone asked me the other day which season is my favorite, I opened my mouth to deliver a quick bon mot.

And there I stood, mouth hanging open, while the seasonal equivalent of a bar fight tried to brawl its way down my brain stem to my tongue. Spring got in a few good hits. Winter took advantage of a momentary lull to make a break for it, but got pummeled by summer. Autumn tried yelling for the bouncer (aka, my common sense) but was the victim of a nasty uppercut by seasons unknown.

Mrs. Dash was implicated but insisted that she wasn?t there. I finally had to capitulate and admit that I really don?t have a favorite season. Don?t get me wrong, it?s not apathy. It?s just that each season has one really great thing that manages to overcome the less positive aspects of it. I like them all.

Since it?s finally settled down and decided to be autumn, it?s my current favorite season. Sure, the crickets all think they should live indoors and sing me the songs of their people.

Yeah, the chickens are all molting. The coop is strewn with discarded feathers, the chickens look like half-bald pincushions, and the dander level is simply amazing.

The lovely rains have woken up a certain strain of mold that promises to keep me sneezing and blowing my nose until the snow falls. And then there?s that whole shorter day thing.

On the bright side, it?s cooler now, and the first frost has graced us. The leaves are turning beautiful colors and starting to fall so I can save them for next year?s coop bedding. It?s time to clean out the garden, do some last minute canning, and unearth all the recipes for baked goods I found this summer, but was simply too hot to contemplate. It?s time for hot chocolate, tea, and cider. Aaah, the wonderful smells to come! It?s time for…eek!

Sorry about that. I just realized it was (past) time to take the last jars of green tomato jam out of the canner. Every woman has a signature recipe. Grandma Dorothy made special sour cream cookies. Grandma Martha made noodle soup. Grandma Alleyne made lemon meringue pies. My mother made Cranberry Fluff, and I still can?t get my steak and rice to come out like my mother-in-law?s. My legacy, I think, will be green tomato jam.

A few years ago, we were up to our eyeballs in green tomatoes. Sure, we fried some (and froze some of those), but you can only eat so many before you either can?t stand the sight of another one or your arteries clang shut in protest.

I made green tomato bread, green tomato pie, and still, the tomatoes threatened to overcome us. Even the bags of puree I put in the freezer seemed to multiply out of sheer spite. And everybody knows you don?t waste perfectly good green tomatoes.

Green tomato jam, people suggested. Just put strawberry (or raspberry, or cherry) Jello in it. I balked. If that?s what I wanted to do, I?d have done it with the rhubarb earlier in the summer. Besides, you know me. I have to do things the hard way. So I set out to find a recipe that didn?t use Jello or need refrigeration, because with that puree in there reproducing itself, I was running out of freezer space.

The Internet didn?t disappoint. After long consideration, I found a promising recipe that I followed (more or less), and in the time promised, I had a batch of the most interestingly colored jam I?d ever seen. Let?s just say it resembles something exiting the south end of a northbound baby.

But the taste, oh, the taste. Those last lumpy green rejects had melded with simple spices to produce absolute ambrosia. Family raved about it, color notwithstanding. I entered it in the county fair, only to be crushed when the judges didn?t even taste it.

I thought I?d try again at the state fair, but wait. Somehow, my family had managed to consume the entire batch of jam. I had to make more, but my process needed more time, and the entry date was in two days.

Not to be deterred, I tried a rush batch. Wouldn?t you know it, I got sidetracked while it was boiling down. The scorched smell permeated the house. The jam had a distinct smoked flavor. But, since we don?t waste perfectly good food, I canned it up anyway. After all that work, I wasn?t about to feed the entire pot to the compost pile. The kids ate it and it only took three days to soak and scrub the pot back to usefulness.

This year?s batch seems to have come out well, so my legacy is preserved. Good luck to my descendants, though, even if I do give them my recipe. I never make anything exactly the same way twice.

Now, I need a catchy name. What do you think of ?What Time Is It Jam??

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