A different marmalade to accompany cheese plates and other savory dishes
Rose geranium is a plant easily found in Greek islands, since it’s an ornamental plant well adapted to the Mediterranean climate and requires little to no care. Also, it’s often used in sweet and savory recipes due to its unique smell.
All small villages of the Aegean islands have neighborhoods that are embellished with some geraniums, among other flowers and plants. In fact, local women use to plant them inside big, old, used cans of feta cheese or other foods! If you think of it, this is a nice and economic way to reuse these old cans. If you’ve visited any of these villages, you must have seen them! Probably under a bright painted window, next to a timeworn wooden door or alongside some narrow backstreet. They’re usually painted white – but you may come across other colors too – and are filled with soil, providing all the necessary nutrients to the plants above them. These geraniums come in many varieties, with white, red or rose flowers. And they can get quite tall, too. One special variety, the rose geranium, has a very nice smell, a smell that reflects the sunny, anhydrous, rough character of the Aegean archipelago. It is used in baking, cooking and in recipes with preserved fruits. My mom also uses its leaves to give a subtle aroma to our raisins. She just stores the raisins inside an airtight container with some rose geranium leaves among them. So simple!
This marmalade hasn’t the typical fruit to sugar ratio, which in most recipes is approximately 60-40 (60% fruit and 40% sugar). The amount of sugar is quite low because it is intended to be eaten mostly with savory dishes. Actually, you may hear other people calling it tomato chutney, another hint that you should use it to accompany your favorite roast meat, burger or sandwich. Slathered on a slice of bread or some crackers along with some pieces of cheese wouldn’t be bad either. I have also presented it during brunch, as a condiment for some pizza muffins, just to give them a little twist.
In this post I give you relatively small amounts of ingredients, enough to fill a medium jar and keep it in the fridge. It will last at least two months. But if you feel like boiling and sterilizing jars you can certainly make a bigger batch.
Note: During cooking you test for doneness by dropping a small quantity on a cold plate and checking the consistency. Remember that when cold, it will thicken a little more. It is better to undercook it than to overcook it. If you undercook it, you can always boil it a little more!
- 1½ pounds ripe but firm tomatoes (700 grams) from which you will get 1¼ pounds peeled and cored tomatoes (580gr)
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
- Pinch of salt
- 1-2 rose geranium leaves
- Score the bottoms of the tomatoes and put them in a big pot with boiling water for one minute.
- Drain, add tap water to cool, and peel them off.
- Cut them in half and discard any hard white parts. Puree them.
- In a wide, heavy bottomed saucepan add the tomatoes, sugar, vinegar, salt and geranium leaves. Simmer in medium heat stirring occasionally (and more frequently during the end).
- When it is glossy and thick enough to spread, remove from heat and discard geranium leaves.
- Let cool a little and transfer into a jar.
- Spread on bread, toast, muffins, cheese and eat.
Cooking time may vary. It will depend on the type and size of saucepan, how juicy the tomatoes are and other factors.