“It’s very much a part of the Southern Appalachian food ways.” – Rick McDaniel, Southern Food Writer & Author
“With summer’s abundance falling ripely from the vines in the form of tomatoes, many a gardener’s thoughts turn to sauce….but many mountain families prefer instead to preserve the late-summer abundance in plentiful batches of Ms. S.W. Wengrow’s Famous Tomato Jam, laced with winter spices and perhaps more at home on the Thanksgiving table than on biscuits in the summer…Sweet, but still bearing the flavors of summer, the jam has hints of allspice and clove, all brightened by grated lemon rind….use it anywhere that you might associate with cranberry sauce…but it’s delicious on cornbread and delicious on biscuits, as well as with meats.
Family lore had it that Mrs. Wengrow, a SC native and at 106 the oldest living graduate of the University of SC, had effectively preserved an old heirloom family recipe – until Southern food writer and author Rick McDaniel asked her to trace the jam back to its roots….she looked at Rick and said that she didn’t get the recipe from her mother – she got it off the Sure-Jell box.
According to McDaniel, tomato jam likely dates to 1840, with the earliest recipe from “American Farmer” magazine. Here’s Mrs. Wengrow’s Famous Tomato Jam recipe:
2 1/2 pounds of fresh tomatoes to yield 3 cups prepared fresh tomatoes (scalded, peeled & chopped)
1 box powdered pectin, like Sure-Jell
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 tsp allspice, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ground cloves
4 1/2 cups sugar
Use a 6-8 quart sauce pan. Scald, peel and chop tomatoes and simmer 10 minutes. Measure and you should have 3 cups. Add lemon rind, lemon juice, spices and Sure-Jell. Cook over high heat until mixture comes to a hard boil. At once, add sugar, bring back to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down, and boil hard, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, skim foam with a metal spoon, and ladle into hot, sterilized jars, leaving 1/4 inch of space at top. Process jars in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes (or follow Sure Jell instructions). Store in a cool place.
Adapted by Mrs. S.W.. Wengrow from a Sure-Jell recipe.
SOURCE: Mackensy Lunsford/Asheville Citizen-Times