Happy Food Day, Food Mavens! For those of you arriving late to the party, Food Day is a nationwide celebration and a movement for healthy, affordable, sustainable food. It’s a day to celebrate the achievements we’ve made as a country in pushing forward a whole foods agenda (lowercase W, lowercase F), and to reflect upon what more we can each do to make sure that in the fine words of Alice Waters, “good food is a right, not a privilege.”
Last night I was lucky enough to be invited to a full day of food-forward events hosted by Food Sol at Babson College. Entrepreneur-in-residence Andrew Zimmern of Bizarre Foods fame, was the MC for an afternoon filled with engaging panel discussions lead by local chefs and thought leaders committed to the sustainable food movement. Inspiring stories of volunteerism from The Food Project and The Greater Boston Food Bank, shared the spotlight with chef testimonials from some of the very best restaurants in town: O Ya, Toro, Coppa, and a favorite I’ve written about in these pages before, Island Creek Oyster Bar.
Later that evening Food Sol sponsored a chef’s dinner at Volante Farms. All seven chefs contributed to a sustainable meal that featured memorable dishes like bacon brittle, za’atar spiced goat sausage, kale ice cream, and of course, those scrumptious Island Creek Oysters that made an East Coast oyster believer out of me.
After digesting the feast and all the finer points of food activism that were brought to bear at Babson last night, I sat in my kitchen staring down a still too full bowl of green tomatoes–some of which are actually starting to redden. My garden has born many fruits this first year of home growing, but as I’m still new to gardening and the quirks of planning a seed planting schedule, too many of my tomatoes failed to ripen before the first frost. I collected them last week and started trolling the internet for ideas for what to do with all my heirloom bounty. Since then I’ve made salsa verde for fish tacos, fried green tomatoes with a four-herb buttermilk dressing, canned jars of melted tomato & butter marinara sauce I’ll be grateful for once winter rolls around, and filled six mason jars full of green tomato & yuzu marmalade. Surprisingly, it was the exotic citrus jam that got all the recipe requests when I shared photos of my adventures in preserving on Facebook.
I built my marmalade around a recipe first published in The New York Times back in 2007. Substituting yuzu for lemon and adjusting the cooking times and sugar ratios accordingly, I came up with a citrus-spiked sweet and sour concoction that offers the signature taste of yuzu and uses up the dozens of green tomatoes I could no longer stomach in their fried and tortilla dipped variations. In true waste not/want not Food Day style, this is snout to tail–or in this case, seed to stem–cooking at its best.
There’s still time to get a real foods dinner on the table tonight and toast to a campaign for social justice that is equal parts delicious and nutritious. If you’re looking for autumnal menu inspiration, check out my Fall Recipe eBook, or dig into what may be my last taste of summer with my green tomato & yuzu marmalade recipe. Mason jars filled with homemade pickles, jams and chutneys make excellent edible party favors this time of year and offer Food Day flare that is as perfectly apropos today as it will be for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. I’m planning to offer my marmalade as take-away treats for the guests sitting around my table next month for my annual Friends Thanksgiving fête. I encourage you to try your hand at canning a homemade party favor this holiday season, and Eat it Up!
Green Tomato & Yuzu Marmalade
(fills 6 small mason jars as party favors)
• 2 Yuzu (thinly sliced & seeded)
• 5 lbs Green Tomatoes (thinly sliced & cored)
• 5 cups Sugar
• 4 TB Yuzu Juice
• 1 t Yuzu Salt
• ¼ cup Water
* 6 six-ounce Mason Jars
Using a sharp knife or mandoline, thinly slice, then deseed your yuzu slices; I used a mandoline to make quick work of this task, and that of slicing all the tomatoes too. Just be sure to core your tomatoes before slicing! Then rough chop both the seeded yuzu and cored tomato slices into smaller bits. The Times article skipped this step, and I ended up with a marmalade chock-full of long strips of tomato skin and whole lemon wedges…not ideal for spreading on toast or serving with cheese and biscuits.
Next up, bring your yuzu slices to a boil in a large stockpot of water and drain. Then dump the yuzu back into the pot along with the rest of your ingredients: tomatoes, sugar, yuzu juice, yuzu salt and water. I found my yuzu products at the Sunshine Mart Japanese specialty store in NYC. I used to two whole yuzu fruits and a bottle of fresh yuzu juice to make the marmalade. If you cannot find yuzu, you can substitute with lemon, lime or sea salt, but of course, you’ll miss that distinctively yuzu-licious flavor.
Bring the mixture to a slow simmer, stirring often, first to dissolve the sugar, then to test how thick the marmalade has become. Cook like this until the tomatoes and yuzu slices are translucent and the syrup thickens. The Times predicted this step to take 20-30 minutes, but in my experience, it has taken a solid 2-3 hours on the stove before my mixture resembled anything like marmalade. I’d love to know how this worked out on your end!
Cool completely, fill mason jars and store in the refrigerator; like any jar of jam, these pots de marmalade will last you at least a month in the fridge. Of course, you could go through the extra step of heat-sealing your jars such they will not require refrigeration and can be preserved for up to a year, but I’m giving mine away next week at a dinner party and won’t have any trouble finishing the jar I’m holding onto to turn everyday bagels into a gourmet breakfast.