Old fashioned tomato jam is sweet, spicy, piquant, savory, and utterly fabulous whether you devour it with cheese and crackers, or spread it on your favorite burger or sandwich. A tomato jam grilled cheese anyone?
what is tomato jam (aka tomato chutney or tomato marmalade)?
Tomato jam is a savory jam made with tomatoes, sugar, spices, and sometimes vinegar. You can use red ripe, cherry, or even green tomatoes; they’ll all give you a slightly different but equally delicious result. It’s a classic jam that you don’t see in shops very often, so it’s a perfect diy project. You’ll use it as a spread for burgers and sandwiches, or, my personal favorite, with cream cheese and crackers as an appetizer, just like you would with a hot pepper jelly. And honestly? It’s worth doing just for the cheese and crackers, trust me.
- TOMATOES ~ I use classic red tomatoes but you can actually use just about any tomato you have, including cherry tomatoes or heirlooms. Just make sure they’re sweet and delicious. Slightly underripe fruit is fine for this jam, as well.
- SUGAR ~ I used white granulated sugar, but you can experiment with brown sugar, or even honey.
- CIDER VINEGAR ~ this gives the jam its irresistible tang. You can use balsamic for a different flavor.
- RED PEPPER FLAKES ~ these bring plenty of heat to the party, but you can use fresh hot peppers if you prefer.
- WORCESTERSHIRE SAUCE ~ there is no replacement for this flavor powerhouse, but if you absolutely must, you can sub soy sauce for that touch of umami.
how to make tomato jam
- Chop your tomatoes into a small dice.
- Combine with sugar, vinegar, red pepper flakes, and Worcestershire sauce in a heavy saucepan.
- Cook the mixture down on a medium heat (so it stays at a good simmer) for about 40 minutes to an hour, until thickened. Note: to test homemade jams to see if they have reached the ‘gel point’, put a small plate in the freezer, and when you think the jam is done, take a small dab and put it on the plate. Put it back in the freezer for a minute or two, and then check with your finger…if the jam wrinkles and feels ‘gelled’, it’s ready.
- Cool at room temperature and then refrigerate. The jam will thicken further as it chills.
tomato jam tips and faqs
No, not at all. It has a completely different texture, and flavor profile ~ you’re going to love it!
You can, but I find it’s not worth the extra effort, and the peels melt right into the jam as it cooks.
The jam should be thick and glossy. When you drag your spoon across the bottom of the pan, you should see the pan briefly, before the jam fills in the line. You can test it by spooning a small amount on a plate and putting in the freezer for 2 minutes. If the jam wrinkles when touched and feels firm, it’s done.
My favorite way to use it is with cheese and crackers as an appetizer (soft Brie, creamy goat cheese, or cream cheese are perfect.) You can set a small jar down as part of a large cheese plate, or you can serve with simple cream cheese and crackers. You can also use it on hot dogs and burgers, spread it on deli style sandwiches, grilled cheese, or make an epic blt with it! I like the idea of using it instead of fresh tomatoes on bruschetta or crostini.
You can leave out the chili, but you might want to add some other sort of spice, like a touch of cinnamon and clove, for instance.
You can add some soy sauce.
Yes, jams freeze well, just leave 1/2 inch headspace at the top of the jar to allow for expansion as the jam freezes.
Sugar not only sweetens this jam, it helps it to thicken. If you want to cut down on sugar, make sure you cook it long enough so that it thickens sufficiently.
Yes, but the added quantity is going to mean a lot longer cooking time, I suggest using a large pan like a Dutch oven.
Yes, but I like to briefly process them in my food processor, or using an immersion blender, to break them down a bit before cooking. They are less ‘meaty’ so they can take longer to cook.
Yes, that should work.
Tomatoes are actually considered a high pectin fruit, and when you include the skins and seeds the mixture has enough pectin to set, after the required amount of cooking.
- Pan Con Tomate (Spanish tomato bread)
- Fried Green Tomatoes
- Tomato and Parmesan Risotto
- Heirloom Tomato Caprese Salad
- Grilled Cornbread Panzanella
- Summer’s Best Gazpacho Recipes
- 36 ounces ripe tomatoes (weighed before chopping) or about 4 1/2 cups after chopping
- 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes (or to taste)
- 3 Tbsp Worchestershire sauce
- Chop the tomatoes (I left the skin on, but you can peel them if you prefer) into small dice.
- Add the tomatoes and the rest of the ingredients to a large saucepan, and bring to a boil.
- Continue to cook (at a simmer, not a full boil) for another 40 minutes to 1 hour or so, until the jam has thickened somewhat, and is glossy. Stir occasionally so that it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan or scorch. When you can just barely start to see the bottom of the pan when you scrape a spoon across the bottom, it's done.
- Pour the hot jam into jars, and allow to cool at room temperature. The jam will keep for about 2 weeks in the fridge, or up to a year in the freezer.
- Ladle hot jam into hot sterilized jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Apply band until fit is fingertip tight. Place jar in boiling water canner. Repeat until all jars are filled.
- Process jars 15 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Turn off heat, remove lid, let jars stand 5 minutes. Remove jars and cool 12-24 hours. Check lids for seal, they should not flex when center is pressed.
- Store in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year.