• Green Tomato Jam – MoMA PS1 Salad Garden
  • Green Tomato Jam – MoMA PS1 Salad Garden
  • Green Tomato Jam – MoMA PS1 Salad Garden

Green Tomato Jam – MoMA PS1 Salad Garden

As the summer season comes to a close, I am harvesting my heart out up on the roof of MoMA PS1, trying to squeeze the last of the produce out of the garden. Just when I thought I had achieved the impossible by getting sick of heirloom tomatoes, I encountered a bushel of green tomatoes still left hanging on the vine of my waining plants. It seemed wrong to toss these, so I asked my lovely Instagram followers what they suggested I do with an excess of unripe fruit. Tomato jam was the obvious answer (well, not to me, I had never heard of the stuff).

I used this recipe from Domenica Cooks as my base, and added a few little extras from the garden. Lemon Verbena is a powerfully fragrant herb, one that I most often use for infusions. I have a stalk of lemon verbena sitting inside a jar of sugar in my pantry, leaching flavor. The tomato jam calls for lemon, so I thought I would add the verbena as a fragrant accompaniment to the recipe. I happened to have some verbena-infused honey as well (not necessary but a nice touch), so I added that to the recipe. (If you don’t have lemon verbena, try lemon balm, or even large chunks of lemongrass that can be stewed with the jam and then removed)

Now, when people announce that they, “don’t have a sweet tooth,” they seem to wait expectantly for a pat on the back, like somehow, they are more fully evolved than the rest of us. I might crave a Greek salad before Butterfinger, but I like sweets. When I eat them, I like them to be complex, to be balanced by acid or bitterness, for the sugar to take a back seat (hence the drawer in my freezer dedicated to dark chocolate). This tomato jam is just that – there is a considerable amount of sugar, but the tartness of the lemon, the spice of the chili pepper, and the aromatics of the verbena hit you first. I found myself licking the spoon, so that says something about our finished product.


– 2 pounds firm green tomatoes (about 6 medium)
– Finely grated zest and juice of 1 organic lemon (about 1/4 cup juice)
– 2 cups lemon verbena infused sugar
– 1/3 cup mild honey (infused if possible)
– 3-4 finely chopped lemon verbena leaves
– 2 pinches coarse sea salt
– 1/2 vanilla bean or 1 tsp vanilla extract
– 2 jalapeno, sliced thin (use the seeds)


Wash and then sterilize seven 4-ounce jars (or three 1/2-pint jars and one 4-ounce jar) and their lids by immersing them in boiling water for 10 minutes.

Remove the cores from the tomatoes and cut them lengthwise into quarters. If the seeds are small, leave them be. If they are mature, taste to see if they are bitter. If so, scrape them out. Cut each quarter crosswise into thin slices.

Put the tomatoes, lemon zest and juice, sugar, honey, and salt in a large nonreactive saucepan or heavy-bottomed pot. With a small paring knife, slice the vanilla bean open lengthwise. Scrape the seeds into the pot and toss in the pod.

Set the pot over medium heat and bring it to a boil, stirring to combine the ingredients. Cook at a low lively simmer for 1-2 hours, or until the preserves are glossy and thick enough to spread. Be sure to stir often to prevent burning. Reduce the heat to medium-low if necessary. Remove the vanilla bean pod at the end of cooking.

Funnel the preserves into the sterilized jars, screw the lids on tightly, and process for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath. Store in a cool dark place for up to 1 year. Or store the preserves in the refrigerator, where they will keep for at least 2 months.