Sweet Tomato Jam
Sweet Tomato Jam and a couple of cans of tomatoes, courtesy of recipes from The Farm Cooking School

Sweet Tomato Jam and a couple of cans of tomatoes, courtesy of recipes from The Farm Cooking School

When they told us at The Farm Cooking School that we'd be pairing tomatoes with ice cream, I was skeptical. Those are two things I never imagined would taste good together. Boy, was I wrong. If you're looking at the picture above and thinking, "No way...I don't do canning, so I guess I can't make this recipe," stop! You can (no pun intended). I canned it in a hot water bath to keep it for longer, but you could easily refrigerate this and use it. It should be good for a couple of months in the fridge. Just make enough to use rather than enough to store for the winter.

Sweet Tomato Jam on the Stove

This is Ian Knauer's recipe from his cookbook, The Farm, introduced to me during a Tomatofest Gardening & Cooking Workshop at The Farm Cooking School. I highly recommend trying out one of their classes or helping out in the garden if you are not far from Stockton, NJ.

This jam has fantastic autumnal spices, so it's the perfect treat as the weather cools. Pair it with ice cream or wrap it in pastry dough for a baked sweet treat. I plan to try it with a warm slice of gingerbread. Mmmm.... And, here's the kicker - this is incredibly easy to make -- you're basically doing very minimal prep and just letting the pot boil and simmer. I even forgot to put the sugar in until I was almost done cooking the whole thing....so, you can even screw it up a little along the way and recover nicely. I need more recipes like that.

Tomato Jam
Ian Knauer, The Farm

Yield (Recipe said it makes about 3 pints, but I only got 1 1/2 pints)


2 pounds ripe tomatoes (I used Constoluto Genovese, but you can use any kind)
1 navel orange
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp kosher salt


  1. Score an X on the bottom of each tomato with a sharp knife and cut out cores. Plunge the tomatoes, a few at a time, into large pot of boiling water until the skin from the X curls back, 30 seconds to a minute. Transfer the tomatoes with a slotted spoon to a large bowl of ice water to stop cooking. Peel the tomatoes and cut into large chunks.
  2. Quarter the orange, discarding any seeds, then slice the quarters (including rind) as thin as possible with a sharp knife.
  3. Bring the tomatoes, orange slices, sugar, vanilla bean, vinegar, spices, and salt to a boil in a large heavy pot. Boil the jam, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 45 minutes to 1 1/4 hours.
  4. To test the jam for doneness, drop a teaspoonful on a chilled plate and chill for 1 minute. Tilt the plate: the jam should remain in a mound and not run. If the jam runs, continue cooking it at a slow boil, testing every 5 minutes. Cool the jam completely.
  5. Divide the jam among 3 sterilized jars, leaving 1/4 inch of space at the tops. Cap the jars and process in boiling water for 15 minutes. Let the jars cool at room temperature until they seal. They will keep for at least a year in a cool, dry, dark place. (If you are not canning the jam, but refrigerating it, store it in a mason jar or other container with an airtight lid and enjoy for several months.)
Tomato Jam paired with vanilla ice cream and corn ice cream at The Farm Cooking School

Tomato Jam paired with vanilla ice cream and corn ice cream at The Farm Cooking School

I'm Catherine, a small-space urban gardener in New Jersey (Zone 7a) who started gardening out of upcycled wooden wine boxes. For years, I wanted to try gardening, but didn't know where to start. I got up the nerve to give it a try - starting small with a single wooden wine box that turned an idea into reality. That reality quickly turned into my filling every sunny inch of space of my postage-stamp size lawn and turning it into a garden oasis. I grow mostly vegetables and herbs with some exception for fruits (when the squirrels and rabbits don't get to them first). I love learning from gardening communities (and lots of trial and error).

I hope one day to take all that I'm learning and apply it to a larger plot of land. To help me get there, I'm extending my learning through the University of Massachusetts, Stockbridge School of Agriculture's, Sustainable Food & Farming program. (I'm addicted to learning as much as I am to gardening.)

This blog isn't just for gardeners (although I hope it inspires some of you to try growing a plant or two). The recipes (food & cocktails) in theRecipes section of this blog contain ingredients that don't have to come from your own backyard. If you like visiting your local farmer's market(or even your grocery store) and would like to get some new recipes you can use with the fresh produce and herbs you get from your local growers, this blog will have plenty for you too.

In addition to gardening and cooking, I also love to visit and photograph my surroundings. I feel fortunate to have so many amazing places here in New York/New Jersey, where I live and work. Visits to local farms, farmer's markets, and cycling through rural farming areas help me feel connected and refreshed. share these experiences in theExploring section of the blog so that you might visit through proxy or be inspired enough to visit yourself. 

With very few exceptions, all of the photographs on this site are ones I have taken myself. (For the photographers out there, I shoot with a Canon 7D and sometimes with my Lumix  DMC-ZS15 compact camera.) 

I hope this blog inspires you to grow, create, explore, and try something new. The best way to stay up-to-date is to follow me using the social buttons above, or click Subscribe and sign up for my email newsletters.    

Happy Gardening and Healthful Living!

- Catherine