Tomato Jam

I was going to name this “Marisa’s Former Coworker John’s Wife Amy’s Tomato Jam” but it seemed a bit of a mouthful. No disrespect to Amy, or to Marisa, but this is one of those recipes that everyone seems to adore and I simply… don’t. Granted, I made a whole bunch of changes, so I can’t say that I really tested the original recipe, but it did start out somewhat close to the original – I just kept adding more & more spice hoping to jazz it up a bit and reach the tomato jam nirvana that everyone else seems to have found. It never seemed to achieve a true jammy texture to me (of course, I subbed 1/2 cup of honey for 1 cup of sugar, which is a likely culprit for lack of jam-ability) and at the end, it tasted like a slightly too sweet, spicy tomato paste.  Pretty good with cheese and crackers, but not, for me, tomato nirvana.

I’ve always been resistant to tomato jams as the thought of a sweet tomato preserve just didn’t sit right with me (apparently still doesn’t). However, I was tempted to try this one by Marisa’s great post, with pictures of a gorgeous, deep-maroon tomato jam and descriptions of the life-changing power of jam + stinky cheese. Yet, as I was cooking it, and sampling along the way, I somehow knew it was not going to be transformed into something magical, not for me anyway. I kept thinking it would be great if I added a little vinegar, something chunky like raisins or crystallized ginger, maybe some jalapeno or red bell pepper… aaaaaand I would then have a very round-about tomato chutney. So, I perservered and canned it up as tomato jam. I’ve fed it to a few friends now, and of course, Tai, all of whom like it, so don’t let me discourage you from trying it; I’m pretty much a freak about sugar, and it’s very easy for something to be too sweet for my palate.  You may want to try out Marisa’s (or Amy’s) original recipe, however, as I definitely did a lot of tweaking below.  If there is some trick that I missed on the Path to Tomato Enlightenment, please do share: I could be convinced to give this another go.

Adapted from Tomato Jam by Marisa at Food in Jars

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Tomato Jam

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 and 1/2 lbs tomatoes (I used mixed plum, globe and Green Zebra), finely chopped (OR use 5 lbs tomatoes and omit tomato puree and syrup)
  • 2 and 1/2 cups thick tomato puree
  • 1 cup tomato syrup (reduced tomato juice
  • 10 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 and 1/2 cups brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup raw sugar (organic turbinado)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 and 1/2 tbsp chile flakes
  • 2 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

METHODS

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large (7-quart), wide-bottomed stockpot or Dutch oven. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat and simmer, stirring frequently, until most liquid has evaporated and tomatoes take on a thick, jam-like consistency, about 1 hour.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare canner, jars and lids.
  3. When the jam reaches the desired consistency, taste and adjust seasonings. Ladle hot jam into hot, sterilized jars,  to 1/4-inch headspace. Pass a wooden utensil along the sides of the jars to remove any bubbles, wipe rims, affix lids and process in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes.

Yields about 4 and 1/2 cups.

OPTIONS

  1. The original recipe calls for 5 lbs of tomatoes, unpeeled and unseeded; I used some tomato puree & reduced tomato syrup that was leftover from another recipe, combined with the last of the fresh CSA tomatoes.
  2. As I noted above, I made a number of changes to the original recipe but was not really thrilled with the result. I suggest trying out Marisa’s original recipe, then punching up the spice at the end if you’d like a bit more kick. I also did not achieve nearly her yield, despite using about 5 lbs of tomatoes worth of tomato + puree, so perhaps I reduced it too much? Hard to tell.

STORE

Canned, store in a cool, dark spot for up to 1 year. Refrigerated, use within 1 month.

SEASON

Summer.

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8 comments

  1. barefootrooster

    i tried this a few weeks ago, with mixed results — mine didn’t get all jammy, but i blame that on the lesson i learn repeated through experience (do not can at night, or your tiredness will fool you into thinking you’ve simmered the jam enough). the flavors weren’t what i was expecting either — very sweet at first, with a slight kick at the end, but not a lot of blending. i read what you posted about jars of salsa mellowing on the shelf, though, and kept looking for the right application for the leftovers in the fridge. my answer? grilled cheese. i do think the flavors started to blend more as time passed. i haven’t opened any of the jars i processed, but i’m wondering what they’ll be like…and i’m optimistic!

  2. Robin – Link away! I’m all about sharing. Tomato orange does sound intriguing and we know I’m also all about toning down the sweetness. I guess I just never thinks about marmalades until winter.

    Barefoot – Yes, you’re right, perhaps it will mellow into something a bit more complex and interesting. If not, I know that other people enjoy it, so I won’t feel bad giving it away as gifts! 🙂 (And I’m with you on the canning at night thing; even though I do it constantly, I have only myself to blame when I don’t cook the jam/butter/jelly enough just because it’s past midnight…)

  3. I am also of deciding a jam or other product is done because I want to go to bed, or this summer with sour cherry jam it was because it was the middle of an awful muggy heat wave. I have used many excuses, the thermometer must be broken so it must be done, I like a soft set anyway, what’s wrong with a nice syrup…

    Thanks for the thumbs up on the links. I feel the same way on my blog, it is kind of like the recipe sharing that happens at my CSA as we make our selections.

    -Robin

  4. It’s all ketchup to me! I am also undecided about tomato jams. I was very drawn to them as they seem unusual and that I always like, but when a wiff of something reminds you instantly of pizza, it doesn’t say jam and cream to me, if you get my gist. Hope you didn’t make a cupboard full.

  5. Gorgeous Photo! I tried Marisa’s jam recipe too and changed everything up except the 5 lbs of tomatoes. My husband does not like it at all, I think it is too sweet, but my customers seem to like it!!! 🙂

  6. I made Marisa’s recipe this week just because I had tomatoes that needed used up and I had every other tomato product! I was skeptical. I mean, tomatoes into jam, really? It’s different, but I thought it was pretty good, although, I didn’t taste too much. I do believe mine set (I nearly burned it though!). I’m just not sure what I’m going to do with it now…

  7. I have not tried this particular tomato jam recipe but I know from past tomato jam making that is OUT standing on grill cheese sandiwiches any day all winter. I am delighted to have found this site for some unique and different combos. On my way to our local “Cheese Shop” to find “ClearJel” to put up Apple Pie filling, and some ginger for some of the other recipes. – Thanks for sharing.
    Penny

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