Spiced Tomato Jam

jam tomato square 300x300 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.

 

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    • If sealed in a waterbath, jars may be kept for up to a year, in a dark cupboard. Avoid storage at high temperatures (over 80 degrees F) or low temperatures (don’t let them freeze).

    • After following the directions perfectly, it simmered for 3 hours and never reached the “wrinkle” stage . It also reduced itself in volume by 2/3 so even if it ever “wrinkled” I might have gotten 4 jars out of it. I finally gave up on the whole thing – what a colossal waste of time, energy, and ingredients.

      • I am sorry you had a bad experience. Not having seen the batch, I can’t comment about what may have gone wrong. I’ve had only good results.

    • I started with 5 lbs of tomatoes, and ended up with 13 4-oz jars of the jam plus part of another 4-oz jar. I did not measure the chopped tomatoes in cups.

    • If it’s sealed in a waterbath, and kept at moderate temperatures in a dark cupboard, it will last at least a year. Your friends will adore your presents.

  1. 1. I used 5 lbs of rain-split cherry tomatoes.
    2. It took hours to cook down
    3. It made 6 8oz jars, as indicated. There was even a little leftover for immediate use
    4. It tastes amazing. My son tasted it and declared: “I will put this on everything”.

  2. Sherry, I made this yesterday. I cooked the mixture for about three hours, it was reduced by at least half, it failed the wrinkle test several times…even though it didn’t “jam”, it most definitely was a good use of time because the outcome (although not jam-like in consistency) is absolute DELICIOUSNESS! Thanks for a wonderful recipe. I would venture to say that using a more meaty tomato, i.e. Roma, would have created a jam. Whatever…it is a bit of heaven on earth. Thanks again :D

  3. How long should I process jars in a hot water bath? Some recipes say 10 minutes, some 20 or 30. Not sure how to figure out how long at sea level. Thank you

    • As the recipe says above, process in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes. Most jams in 8-oz jars get processed at 10 minutes, but tomato jam is denser, so it needs more time.

  4. for those that cannot get this to gel – try using a candy thermometer (or better yet, an instant read thermometer) and cooking until it reaches 220 degrees F. I use this method with non-pectin jams and jellies and it works out every time. The ingredients cook down by about 1/3 and it can take 20 plus minutes to achieve this temperature.

  5. Making a second batch because the first was so amazing. This stuff is worth the work and the wait. A test of patience and self control( hope I don’t eat it all to fast ). Thanks

  6. I made this today and like several others I never managed to pass a wrinkle test, but once it had reduced by half and was nice and thick I decided to go ahead and can it. It’s in the water bath now and I can attest that the bits left in the pan tasted AMAZING! Cannot wait to try this with so many things! I’m thinking it might be a fun, different twist on a BLT, to make it with this jam instead of a tomato in wintertime. Thanks so much for the recipe!

    • I also use what I call a ‘big fat blob’ test: put a blob of the cooking jam on a cold saucer or plate. Chill it for 1 or 2 minutes, then poke the blob. Can you drag your finger through it and have the streak in the middle remain empty? If so, it is thick enough. If the blob re-forms and covers up the plate where your finger made the streak, it’s not thick enough.