The first savory spread I canned, from Liana Krissoff’s Canning for a New Generation, featured tomatoes and basil. It inspired me not only to evolve the recipe but also to make other spreads that feature vegetables. Krissoff’s book also showed me the advantages of incorporating fresh fruit into these spreads. Pectin occurs naturally in fruits, and some fruits, like apples and oranges, have lots of it. Most fruits also have enough natural acid that you don’t need to add vinegar to preserve them safely. This makes them natural partners for low-pectin, low-acid vegetables.
In this week’s recipes, the apples don’t have to look or even taste perfect: you’re mainly interested in their pectin. So save your sweetest apples for fresh eating and use tart, underripe ones with your tomato and zucchini. You also have lots of choices for tomatoes and basil, but for the prettiest jars, stick to one color of each per batch.
3 pounds underripe or tart apples
2 small lemons
1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup honey
3/4 cup white wine vinegar (5% acidity)
1/2 cup fresh basil, slivered
Slice about two-thirds of the cherry tomatoes in half. Put them in a wide, 6-quart or larger pot. Bring them to a boil over medium-high heat and cook about 5 minutes, or until juice covers the tomatoes. Set a fine-mesh colander over a large bowl, and pour the hot tomatoes into it, letting the juice drain.
Roughly chop the apples, retaining the peel and core; you should have about 10 cups. Quarter the lemons, and then cut them into slices. Set the colander of the tomato solids on a plate, and return the tomato juice to the pan; you should have about 4 cups of juice. Add the apples and lemon, and bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to medium high, cover the pot loosely, and cook for about 15 minutes, or until the apples have broken down and the peels have separated from the pulp. Stir occasionally to prevent burning.
Dump the tomato solids into the bowl and place the now-empty colander over it. Pour the hot tomato juice mixture into the colander. Press down on the juice mixture using a potato masher or food plunger, pushing as much of the juice and apple pulp through the colander as you can. Discard the solids that remain in the colander. (At this point, you could refrigerate the tomato mixture until the next day.)
Pour the tomato mixture back into the wide pot, and if desired, run an immersion blender through it briefly to break up the seeds and solids. Stir in the sugar, honey, and vinegar, and bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Boil, stirring frequently, for about 15 minutes, or until the jam sets when you test it. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the basil.
Ladle the jam into hot half-pint jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Process in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes, plus your altitude adjustment. Makes about 7 half-pint jars.
Tips & Tricks
- I use the phrase “cherry tomato” loosely here. I’ve made this recipe with Sweet 100s, Sungolds, a lovely heirloom Black Cherry tomato, and Yellow Pear tomatoes. All work equally well—as do larger tomatoes.
- The apples and lemon in this week’s recipes (see below) are for more than flavor; they supply the pectin that makes the jam “set” instead of run. The skins and cores of these fruits have more pectin than the flesh, which is why you add all these parts. But it also helps to use the tartest apples possible—either early, underripe ones from a backyard tree or store-bought Granny Smiths.
- If your colander has large holes, remove the seeds from the apples before cooking them down; otherwise, you’re likely to press them through the colander holes and need to pick them out of the final mix.
- The plate test is enough to check the set of a soft-spread jam: place a drop of jam on a chilled plate, and if it hold its shape, it is ready to can. If you want more precision, check the jam with a thermometer: it should be about 8°F above the boiling point of water at your altitude.
Twice as Tasty
If you grow zucchini, you likely seek out recipes that call for large amounts of the vegetable. That’s how I started making Fall Marmalade. I didn’t put “zucchini” in the name in hopes that people wouldn’t judge the contents before cracking open a jar, It seemed to work: I get more rave reviews for this spread than for Rhubarb–Orange–Ginger Marmalade.
Like the rhubarb recipe, some of the techniques involved follow those used for a traditional citrus marmalade, but the final jar looks more akin to jam than jelly. You could peel the zucchini and apple, but I like the texture added by the skins. A green zucchini seems to give better results than a yellow summer squash; the yellow varieties tend to have thicker skin but softer centers with more seeds. Tart apples are again helpful in getting the preserves to set.
6 cups granulated sugar
4–6 inches fresh gingerroot (about 3 tablespoons when minced)
2 underripe or tart apples
1 cup honey
Using a large-holed or other size cheese grater, grate the zucchini into a wide, 8-quart or larger nonreactive pot. Stir in the sugar, cover the pot, and let the mixture sit overnight in the refrigerator so that most of the sugar dissolves.
Remove the pot from the fridge and let it return to room temperature. Zest the oranges using a zester or a vegetable peeler and then a knife to form thin strips; add the strips to the pot of zucchini. Cut the white pith from the oranges, placing it to a small bowl. Use a vegetable peeler to remove the peel and pith from the lemon; add it to the bowl. Holding each orange and lemon in turn over the pot with the orange peel, separate the citrus segments from the membrane using a sharp knife, catching as much juice as possible in the pot. Add the segments to the pot, and then squeeze in all the juice from the membranes; add the spent membranes and seeds to the small bowl. Peel and mince the ginger, adding it to the small bowl.
Core the apple; add the core and seeds to the small bowl, and then grate the rest of the apple into the large pot. Add the honey, mix well, and warm the mixture over medium heat until the sweeteners dissolve completely.
Pour the contents of the small bowl onto a piece of cheesecloth, and then tie the corners together to form a spice bag. Add the bag to the large pot with the zucchini mixture. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, and cook, uncovered, for 30–45 minutes, or until the marmalade sets when you test it. As it boils, increase the frequency of your stirring to prevent burning. When it gels, skim off any foam and remove the cheesecloth bag.
Ladle into hot half-pint jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Process in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes, plus your altitude adjustment. Makes about 7 half-pint jars.
Tips & Tricks
- My zester cuts the peel from citrus fruit in long, thin strips. If you have a grater-style zester that mounds up specks of peel, you may want to use a vegetable peeler to remove the orange peel and then cut it into strips with a knife so that the pieces are similar to the size of the apple and zucchini gratings.
- As with Tomato–Apple–Basil Jam, this is an ideal place to use up tart, underripe apples. You can also use up your larger zucchini, but smaller ones will have more flavor.
- Marmalades tend to cook down for a long time to get their dense texture. Zucchini naturally holds lots of water, so it may take longer than expected to get the mixture to reduce in volume and its gel to form. A splatter shield or constant stirring may be help limit the mess as you approach the temperature needed to set the spread.
- Savory spreads are delicious anywhere you would use a sweet fruit jam, but I particularly like them on Sourdough Cabin Bread with a soft, spreadable Lemon Cheese or goat cheese. They’re also delicious on Black Bean Veggie Burgers or Zucchini Pancakes.
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Tried & True
These books and tools may help you make the recipes in this post:
- Liana Krissoff’s Canning for a New Generation has many other delicious recipes and is worth adding to your collection.
- I have an older version of this zester, which creates thin, even strips that hold their shape well through the canning process. They also look pretty in a cocktail glass. You could use a microplane-style zester, but the pieces of peel won’t stand out in the jar.
- Preserves that cook a long time, particularly marmalades and chutneys, bubble thickly as they cook down. A splatter shield like this one minimizes mess and burns.
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