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Ball/Farm Journal Tomato Preserves taste bitter

Posted by ajsmama (My Page) on
Thu, Sep 1, 11 at 9:38

Hi, I decided to use the Farm Journal spices (stick cinnamon, whole cloves, I didn't have whole allspice so used ground, plus ground ginger and salt) instead of the pickling spice in the Ball Complete recipe. Also added about 3/4C (all I had) of pineapple per Farm Journal.

Used the Ball method of boiling the 2 (large!) sliced lemons with the sugar and water (actually used the watery juice from drained tomatoes) to make a syrup, then adding the tomatoes and pineapple, letting it sit over night. Pulled the solids out with a slotted spoon (chopped the lemon and pineapple since there were still big chunks).

Here's where I deviated - since the lemon rind and pineapple chunks still seemed a bit hard, I boiled them with the syrup for 3 minutes (til it gelled on a plate a little), then added the tomatoes (which weren't really whole any more - turning out more like jam than preserves).

But tasting it on the cooled plate, it seemed bitter! I added another cup of sugar a bit at a time, stirred over heat to dissolve, also added 2 Tbsp of OJ but it still tastes bitter to me.

The recipes both said to used unpeeled lemons, sliced thinly (I should have used a mandoline b/c I don't think I got them thin enough with a knife), discarding the seeds. They did not say to use lemon zest, peel the pith off b4 slicing.

I'm thinking it's the lemons that are making this bitter, but what can I do to save this jam now?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Ball/Farm Journal Tomato Preserves taste bitter

Probably nothing but adding lots more sugar. Sounds like it is just an experiment gone bad, like many experiments do, and we all know that's likely up front.

Most likely cause is the pith that was included. But "fixing taste" for others is impossible even when you can actually taste the product in question. Taste is a purely personal thing and what tastes bitter to you could taste heavenly to others - and vice versa. All you can do is give up on it as a loss or keep experimenting with it until it taste good to you.


RE: Ball/Farm Journal Tomato Preserves taste bitter

I'm wondering if adding up to 1 more cup of sugar - brown sugar this time - might help?

Has anybody made the Farm Journal Tomato Preserves? I used the same ingredients (same as Ball except FJ said to weigh 2 lbs of tomatoes after peeling, and Ball said to use 6C - not sure if that was b4 or after peeling and coring). The only difference in processing was that FJ said to sugar the tomatoes and let them sit overnight, then boil with the lemons and spice bag the next jar, jar immediately. Ball almost candied the lemons, then has you put the tomatoes in and boil til translucent, let the mixture sit 12-18 hrs, remove the solids, boil the syrup, add the solids back in and boil 1 minute.

Using the method from one and the spices from the other shouldn't have been bad - we're told we can substitute spices all the time, and even if 6C of tomatoes ended up being 3 lbs instead of 2, the sugar and lemons in each recipe was the same.

All I can think is that I ended up boiling the lemons just 3 minutes longer than Ball recipe said to, though it was still not as long as FJ boils the whole mixture. If it was the tomato seeds, those weren't boiled as long as FJ either. So maybe it was the allspice?

RE: Ball/Farm Journal Tomato Preserves taste bitter

The ground spices (depending upon amounts) can also contribute to bitterness.

Sometimes with lemons if they have a very thick peel it's a good idea to pre-cook and discard the water then add to the tomatoes and sugar. Since texture isn't an issue (you don't want crunchy peel) this is a good way to reduce any residual bitterness. The variety of lemon can also be an issue as some tend more towards bitterness than others. Sometimes in a recipe like this I choose Meyer lemons for just that reason.


RE: Ball/Farm Journal Tomato Preserves taste bitter

Thanks - I did put a cup of brown sugar in, added 2 Tbsp of RealLime (just for a little kick), and then 2 Tbsp of ACV (to mellow things out?). I put some in a jar and brought over to my cousin and uncle, they both agreed it would be good with cream cheese or goat cheese. My cousin suggested that next time I zest the lemons and peel the pith off b4 slicing. I did discard the ends that were all pith, no flesh but I think these were pretty pithy lemons.

I will also skip the allspice next time and make sure I use some brown sugar from the beginning (may skip lime and OJ, but I think ACV is good).

Can't really discard the water if I follow Ball recipe since lemon is boiled in simple syrup. But is the Farm Journal recipe safe to use as-is? There is a big difference in the processing time - 5 minutes (sterilized jars - I would do 10) in FJ vs 20 min in Ball. I just realized that as soon as I took the last jar out of the canner (following 5-min cool-down), so just stuck them back in.

Farm Journal

2 lbs tomatoes
4C sugar
2 lemons, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp whole cloves (I used 10)
1/2 tsp whole allspice (omit?)
1 stick cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger (sub gingerroot as in Ball?)

Scald, skin and weigh small firm red tomatoes. Cover with sugar and let stand overnight in a cool place.

Next morning, drain juice into large saucepan, add lemon (seeds discarded), salt and spices tied in a bg. Boil 10 minutes.

Add tomatoes and cook, stirring frequently, until they are clear and the syrup fairly thick. Remove spices.

Ladle into sterilized jars to within 1/8" of rim (I used 1/4"), Wipe rim and adjust lids. Process in BWB 5 minutes (I would do 10 if jars not sterile). Remove from canner and complete seals unless closures are self-sealing type.

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