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Spiced tomato jam2013 has not been a good year for tomatoes in Michigan. First it was wet and cold, and then way too hot, and now, in September, we seem headed for an early frost. Our tomato season has been the shortest one I can recall.

Even in a scant year, I put up tomatoes. We held our Big Tomato Crush last weekend – detailed results forthcoming! I wanted to try out a new form of tomato preserves: a spiced tomato jam.

I adapted Marisa McClellan’s recipe for tomato jam published in her terrific book Food in Jars. This is a true jam: it uses the skin and the seeds, too! Because there’s no blanching and peeling, it goes together quickly and easily. It has already become a favorite with family and friends.

Spiced Tomato Jam

  • 5 lbs tomatoes, cored and chopped
  • 3 1/2 c granulated sugar
  • 1/2 c freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp freshly grated ginger (peel the ginger before grating)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 Tbsp sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp red pepper flakes

Combine all the ingredients in a large nonreactive pot. (I used my favorite 4 qt pot, which was perfect for the task.) Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to low. Simmer the jam, stirring regularly, until the tomato appears fully cooked and begins to break down. Blitz the whole pot with an immersion blender – get it as smooth as possible.

Prepare jars and a boiling water bath. I like to put this up in 4 oz jars – you’ll need about 13 in that size, or 6 8-oz jars plus some extra in a custard cup to stash in the fridge. When the jam has cooked down and will pass a wrinkle test, remove pot from the heat and ladle the jam into your sterilized jars. Wipe rims, apply lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes.

This jam is amazing. It’s better than ketchup. This is not a simple sweet condiment; it’s deeply spicy and tomatoey, and has a little kick at the end. Fabulous on meatloaf, or anywhere you might use ketchup, it’s also a natural match with soft runny cheeses.