I like making small batches of preserves (you probably know this already). I appreciate their relative ease and speed, as well as the fact that they mean that I wind up with a lot of variety in my pantry (instead of 12 jars of the same thing). In fact, I like them so much that my second book is entirely devoted to tiny batch canning (it’ll be out next spring!)
I also like seeing what other people are doing with small batches and so when I heard that Southern Living was putting out a book devoted to just a few jars at a time, I was excited to check it out. Called Little Jars, Big Flavors, it’s a beautifully photographed volume that contains both preserves as well as a generous handful of recipes that suggest ways to use them.
One of the things I really like about this book (in addition to its many tasty-sounding recipes) is its tone. It delivers information in a way that is useful, clear and does not encourage the reader to be at all fearful about what they’re about to do. For instances, the troubleshooting section called “Not Ideal, But Usually Not a Big Deal.” It’s so no-nonsense and helpful. To my mind, that’s a very big part of what a canning book should be.
There are a number of recipes I’ve marked in this book to try someday. However, there’s one that particularly leaps out at me as one I must make. It’s for a Refrigerator Tomato Jam with Lemon Verbena. I had every intention of making it before I wrote about this volume, but once again, I seem to have overestimated the amount I’d be able to get done in a week’s time. Happily, the publisher has given me permission to share the recipe anyway. If any of you try it, tell me if it’s actually as good as it sounds!
- 5 lb. firm, ripe tomatoes
- 1.5 cups sugar
- 3/4 cup fresh lime juice (4 medium)
- 1⁄3 cup chopped garlic (10 cloves)
- 1⁄3 cup minced fresh ginger
- 1 (6-inch) lemon verbena sprig
- Wash tomatoes. Cut an X in bottom of each tomato.
- Place tomatoes in a large pot of boiling water 30 seconds or until peel begins to separate
- from tomato flesh. Remove with a slotted spoon. Plunge into ice water to stop the cooking process; drain.
- Peel back skin using a paring knife, and discard.
- Place a fine wire-mesh strainer over a bowl. Cut tomatoes in half crosswise, and squeeze gently to remove seeds, holding tomatoes over strainer to collect juices to measure 1 cup.
- Discard seeds, and trim off stem ends. Coarsely chop tomato halves to measure 6 cups.
- Bring reserved 1 cup tomato juice, 6 cups coarsely chopped tomato, sugar, and remaining ingredients to a rolling boil in a 6-qt. stainless steel or enameled Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
- Reduce heat to medium low, and simmer 5 minutes. Remove and discard lemon verbena sprig.
- Simmer, uncovered, stirring often, 1 hour or until mixture is thickened. (Keep a close eye on it near the end of the cooking, being careful not to let the bottom scorch.)
- Spoon into clean canning jars or other heatproof, nonreactive containers with lids. Let cool 1 hour.
- Cover and chill. Store in refrigerator up to 3 weeks.
This is a refrigerator jam from Southern Living's canning cookbook, Little Jars, Big Flavors. The recipe is reprinted with permission.