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Tomato Jam is both savory and sweet with a deep rich flavor. Chunks of fresh tomatoes are cooked down into an incredibly luscious jam!Making this easy and delicious Tomato Jam is an annual ritual at our house. We typically cook up a batch every summer, when we have an abundance of tomatoes from our backyard garden. We eat some of the jam right away and can the rest – always thinking that those jars will last us all winter and spring until tomato season arrives once again. But our Tomato Jam is so delicious we always go through it much quicker than we anticipate!
Why is Tomato Jam so good?Tomato jam is both savory and sweet with deep rich color, and flavors reminiscent of a chunky gourmet ketchup or a tomato chutney – but SO MUCH better! Tomatoes and onions are slowly cooked down in a mixture of granulated and brown sugars, cider and balsamic vinegars, lemon juice, salt, coriander and cumin. We also add a generous amount of chopped basil to the mixture which really sends this Tomato Jam over the top. Your taste buds won’t know what hit them after your first taste. Tomato Jam is fantastic on lots of foods: burgers and hot dogs, grilled steak and pork chops, buttered English muffins, or even baked into these buttermilk corn muffins as a savory-sweet filling. I also think this would great on a grilled cheese sandwich, or with crackers and cheese on a charcuterie board.
Key Ingredients and Substitutions
- Fresh tomatoes – We show Roma tomatoes in our photos below, but any fresh tomato can be used in this recipe, including small cherry or grape tomatoes.
- Sugar – We add both white granulated and brown sugar to the jam mixture. Both add sweetness, while the brown sugar adds a deeper, molasses-like caramelization.
- Lemon Juice – A splash of lemon juice brightens sweetened tomatoes.
- Apple Cider Vinegar & Balsamic Vinegar – Each vinegar helps balance the overall flavors of the jam, and the balsamic vinegar adds depth and richness.
- Spices – A combination of ground cumin and coriander adds more depth of flavor.
- Fresh Basil – The flavors of fresh basil and tomatoes go so nicely together, and this jam is no exception. Don’t skimp on flavor by using dried basil – it won’t be the same.
How do you make Tomato Jam?
- If using larger tomatoes, blanch, peel and de-seed them before roughly chopping. Then place the tomatoes in a large, heavy-bottomed pot. If you are using cherry or grape tomatoes – just add them to the pot – skin, seeds and all. (The tender skins will cook down, giving the Tomato Jam a nice chunky consistency.)
- Add the rest of the ingredients to the pot – chopped onions, fresh basil, both sugars, both vinegars, cumin, coriander, salt, and lemon juice.
- Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for two or three hours (or more if needed – juicier tomatoes will need more time) until the mixture reduces to a thick jam. Be sure to stir fairly frequently so the mixture doesn’t burn.
- Once reduced and thickened, you should have about four cups of Tomato Jam in the pot. Note that the jam will thicken more once it’s chilled.
- Ladle into eight-ounce jars and refrigerate up to 2 weeks. Or, ladle into sterilized jars and can for longer storage. (We used the water bath method and boiled for ten minutes.)
Frequently Asked Questions
- My jam has reduced but it doesn’t seem “jammy”. Is that going to be a problem? No – as mentioned above, the jam thickens more once it is chilled. There is no pectin in this recipe so the consistency is more like a thick relish than a fruit jam. As long as you’ve reduced the liquids, you should be good!
- Can I make this Tomato Jam with canned tomatoes instead of fresh? We haven’t tried making this jam with canned tomatoes ourselves, so I can’t say for sure how this jam will turn out. I suspect you’d need to make some other adjustments to the recipe to make it taste the same.
- Can I freeze this jam instead of canning? We haven’t tried freezing this jam ourselves – but it could work. (I’d suggest try it with a small batch first to see how it thaws.)
- Can I make Tomato Jam in a slow cooker? No, this won’t work in a slow cooker. Since a slow cooker is a covered cooking vessel, it won’t allow the liquids to reduce to the jam consistency that you want.
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4 pounds plum tomatoes, or other tomato varieties such as grape or cherry
1 cup chopped fresh basil
1 cup sweet onion such as Vidalia, chopped
½ cup brown sugar
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon coriander
¼ teaspoon cumin
1/8 cup cider vinegar
1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
Juice of one lemon
- Clean tomatoes, removing any stems. Cut an X in each tomato end with a sharp knife.
- Prepare an ice water bath.
- Bring four quarts of water to a boil in a non stick pot. Keep the heat on full and drop the tomatoes in. When the skin starts to peel, remove them to the ice bath. Empty the water, you will reuse the pot.
- Work over a sheet pan and peel the skins off the tomatoes. Then squeeze the stem end to pop out the stem. (It’s a squeeze, twist and pull motion to remove the stem. Depending on the variety of tomatoes, you may also need to squeeze out the seeds.) Roughly chop the tomatoes and place them back into the dry pot.
- Add all of the other ingredients to the chopped tomatoes. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook the mixture for about two to three hours or until it reduces to a thick jam. Make sure you don’t let it burn. The cooking time depends on the amount of liquid in the variety of tomatoes you use so the timing is not an exact science however the finished product will be about 4 cups (one quart).
- Store in 8 ounce glass canning jars (follow complete canning steps shown here) or store in your refrigerator for up to two weeks.
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