With a freeze warning in the forecast, you rushed to the garden and picked all the remaining tomatoes off your plants. You put some tomatoes away to slowly ripen, and you've been making fried green tomatoes, green tomato chutney, and anything else you can think of. But there's a final handful of green tomatoes staring at you, and you're running out of ideas. Call in the kids; it's time to make something really fun!
This jam is an easy recipe for kids to make--three ingredients, and no canning required. A a little chopping and some stovetop cooking are required, so use your judgment about whether it's age-appropriate for your kids and about how much help they'll need. Move a chair or step stool next to the stove so they can reach easily to stir the pot. Give them a long-handled spoon and caution them about not leaning too close to the pot in case the hot jam burbles and splashes up as it cooks.
Now, I have to admit that "red raspberry" jam made from green tomatoes won't win prizes compared to the very best quality raspberry preserves. However, the seeds in the tomatoes give the jam an authentic look, and the tanginess of the green tomatoes helps counter some of the sweetness of the recipe. I think it makes fantastic peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and it's a wonderful topping for waffles or French toast.
I've come across a couple of variations on the recipe I use that might make for a less sweet jam. A recipe attributed to Southern Living magazine reduces the sugar (to 1 ½ cups) and increases the amount of minced green tomato (to 2 ½ cups). I've also seen recipes suggest the addition of a packet of unsweetened raspberry Kool-aid drink mix for extra zing.
There's a huge entertainment factor in transforming green tomatoes into jam that looks and tastes like raspberries. Kids will get a kick out of serving it to friends and family, then revealing the secret of their homemade "raspberry" jam. I've made it with kids who giggled themselves silly trying to explain to their dad that he had, in fact, just enjoyed a peanut butter and tomato sandwich.
Whether or not you have kids helping you in the kitchen, I hope you'll give this recipe a try. "Faux food" recipes like this are not only tasty in their own right, they're really amusing to serve to unsuspecting guests. Don't reveal the mystery ingredient right away. See if anybody can figure it out. If you're serving it to the same lucky people who sampled your garden tomatoes in season, followed by fried green tomatoes, green tomato chutney, green tomato mincemeat, and green tomato anything-else-you-could-think-of, they just might guess right!
Green Tomato "Raspberry" Jam
2 cups minced green tomatoes
2 cups sugar
1 (3 oz) package red raspberry gelatin
Wash and stem/core the tomatoes, removing any bad spots. I use a food processor to mince the tomatoes, but dicing or shredding them also works.
Put the tomatoes and sugar into a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil to dissolve the sugar, then reduce the heat. Simmer 20 minutes. If you diced the tomatoes, cook them long enough that they no longer look chunky.
Add the raspberry gelatin and bring to a boil. Now the jam is ready to be poured into clean jars. Since it's not shelf-stable, it must be stored in the refrigerator or the freezer. Makes about 1 pint. Recipe can be doubled.
Many thanks to my friend Bluekat76 for making an early batch of jam this year and taking photos of the process for this article!
Look for more green tomato recipes in upcoming articles by April Campbell and Kelli Kallenborn. Subscribers can get additional green tomato inspiration from threads on the the Recipe and Tomato Discussion Forums.
To make jam and jelly from real raspberries (or any other fruit), look for a great upcoming article by Diana Wind, the "Beginner's Guide to Making Jam or Jelly."