Like everyone else, I love heirloom tomato season. But unlike everyone else, I get sick of the massive knotted juicy ones in about a week. I know. I construct a couple of BLTs, whip together a caprese or two, enjoy a panzanella salad with Farm to Hearth bread and then I’ve about had it. For a month or so. Then I usually go tomato crazy again right as the season ends, conveniently just before all of the seconds/bulk deals dwindle off.
It might have something to do with the fact that I am the sole tomato eater in the household. Its not that Jon doesn’t like them – like most guys his age he’s rarely met a tomato sauce/pasta combination he doesn’t inhale. However – raw tomatoes? Verboten due to allergies. So when I grab a couple of big beautiful heirlooms at our farmer’s market or from our CSA, its up to me to eat it all.
So I tend to reach for the cherry and grape-sized tomatoes when I can – they last longer! Its easier to have a few one day, then wait a little bit, and use them in something else a few days later. Our CSA operates as a fill your bag with your choices program, and I am 100% guilty of grabbing up to 6 quarts of small tomatoes. I eat them like candy at work. I slow roast them at 200° for 5 hours and then freeze them for winter soups. But I was looking for something new.
Enter, a bam. I believe it was Kaela at Local Kitchen who coined the term bam - not quite a butter, not quite a jam, something uniquely awesome unto itself. This recipe was particularly because it cooked in the background while I did about fifteen million other preserving projects and provided a snack when done. I am all about multitask preserving.
4ish pints of small tomatoes – sungold, cherry, grape, pear
1/2 cup of sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon dried thyme (or 1-2 tablespoons fresh if you have it)
1 tablespoon fresh cracked black pepper
1 fresh red chile – diced finely (optional)
Throw the tomatoes into a saucepan. Cook down over medium/medium low heat for several hours – mashing and stirring occasionally. A lot of water has to cook out here – so its going to take some time. You could always roast them and strain them to speed up the process, but this way worked best when I had other things going on in the kitchen. Once they reach the consistency you like, add the rest of the ingredients and cook another few minutes. Your mileage may vary on the sugar – you can probably get away with less when using super sweet sungold tomatoes but I like the glossy consistency the sugar lends to the bam. It will keep for a week in the fridge, but you could also waterbath it: ladle hot bam into hot jars, top with hot wet lids and process for 10 minutes.
This bam/spread/condiment/whatever you want to call it is all over the place. Right up front you get sweetness of the tomatoes and a nice hit of thyme, and then a warming bit of heat comes in at the end from the chile. It would make a great compliment to a smoked gouda burger and sit equally well alongside some baked chicken. It wouldn’t be a bad thing to add to eggs of all kinds either – scrambled ones at breakfast or quiche/frittata at lunch or dinner. My favorite way, though is one of the simplest – crack open your beverage of choice and serve alongside some sharp cheddar and crackers.