|My very first batch|
One fb follower asked me if I knew how to make tomato jam. She said she should have paid attention to her HE class. That got me into searching for a recipe so that I could use up the tons of extra tomatoes I had. And I found this recipe from Food in Jars blog that had so many rave reviews, so I decided to try. Lo and behold, my husband who is not a great fan of tomatoes tasted it and loved it, even eating it by itself, and he has since used that for ham when we have it for supper. My sons and I have tried it on broiled fish and meat loaf. My Nanay also liked it.
I even shared the recipe to my friend, Cecilia, whose American hubby also liked it so well he even flavored his rice with this tomato jam. I let my SIL taste it (she is another one who does not like tomatoes, just like my hubby), and she agreed it has the potential to sell. (She sells home canned pickles, jams, and jellies to corner stores, which act as middlemen to sell these goods to the bigger stores. She agreed to sell my stuff, and proceeded to send a small jar to the USDA office for testing to include it in her license. It passed. I have delivered to my SIL 9 cases of them (I had to leave 1&1/2 case for myself for Christmas gift-giving.)
I found it better to adjust the amounts when making them so that I save more time and gas/energy by cooking more per batch, and the below amount makes for a good start in boiling the mixture down. By the time I make another batch using the below recipe, I just add that to the first, then when ready for canning, I can make a whole case of 8-oz jars, which all fit in my steamer canner for processing. I was not too worried about steamer canner versus boiling water canner, because this particular recipe gets in sterilized jars right after cooking for several hours (so I am not worried about microorganisms surviving the cooking time), and the final pH after stabilizing (room temp) was tested also by the licensing body here and came out to be 3.5 (the cutoff was 4.56 generally, and even higher, I think up to 4.7 for tomato products for commercial licensees). So this tomato jam had very good acidity, that I have no doubt it will still be safe even without processing, as long as sterile technique is applied in every step.
For Filipinos in the Philippines who have lots of tomatoes and time and manpower, this will be a good way to market them. Here in the US, I have found jars that looked attractive (see in the slide) which actually were made in China. I am sure if you asked around in Divisoria you will be able to find such jars suitable for canning. For myself, I am not sure if I will have the same enthusiasm next year to make this. Having worked in a good-paying job, I tend to compare how much I can make out of this per hour. Taking into consideration the cost of other ingredients, the time I consume prepping and cooking and canning, I don't feel it's worth it. But if I were jobless...it would be a different story. Hence, I am sharing here my experience in case any of my readers would consider canning as another viable option for livelihood if and when laid off from a job. For those considering canning for business (especially now with the growing movement of people demanding organic products and less processed food items), I would suggest the simplest and easiest and quite in-demand: pickled cucumbers. It would be nice if the uniquely Filipino produce like our delicious fruits picked at the peak of ripeness would be canned and exported to countries where Pinoy expats as well as foreigners open to new things will be able to enjoy them.
10 lbs tomatoes, chopped roughly
7 cups sugar
1 cup lime or lemon juice (freshly squeezed)
2 tbsp salt
2 tbsp crushed red pepper flakes
4 tsp freshly grated ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cloves
The sheeting test --
Mix every thing in a big stock pot and simmer, occasionally stirring to prevent scorching. After about 4 hours or so (depends on how much you have, how strong your heat is, and how wide your stock pot is, since the wider pot will allow for faster evaporation), or when the mixture has achieved the sheeting stage, transfer in sterile jars, wipe lids and rims with wet paper towel, adjust lids, and process for 20 minutes. (I usually wash the jars an hour before the mixture is ready for canning, then sterilize them in my steamer for 30 minutes on at least 180°F temp. I also boil water then dump this onto the clean lids just before ladling the mixture into the jars.)