Yellow Tomato and Basil Jam

yellow tomato basil jam

Last summer, Scott and I spent a weekend in New York. While wandering the Union Square Greenmarket, I picked up a half pint jar of yellow tomato jam. Soon after we got home, I cracked it open and proceeded to make quick work of it. It was good with cheese and even better as a glaze for roasted chicken thighs.

Since then, I’ve been pondering yellow tomato jam. I really wanted to make it from Sungold tomatoes since they are so sweet, but they can be prohibitively expensive if you haven’t grown your own and you’re buying them in the city (I’ve seen them for as much as $5 a pint at farmers’ markets).

Then, when at Root’s Market in Lancaster County last Tuesday, I hit the jackpot. Rows of of glowing, Amish-grown Sungolds for $1 a piece. I bought six.

Cut in half, combined with sugar and lemon juice, and cooked until thick and sticky, this jam is gorgeously vivid in both looks and taste. To make things slightly more interesting, I stirred in a quarter cup of chopped basil at the very end of cooking. Tomatoes and basil do make such good partners.

If you can’t get Sungolds, you could swap in a different tomato. But I do think they give it a depth of sweetness and flavor that is pretty fabulous.

Yellow Tomato and Basil Jam

Yield: Makes 3.5 pints or 7 half pints


  • 4 pounds Sungold or other yellow tomatoes
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • zest of two lemons, divided
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped basil


  1. Cut Sungold tomatoes in half, or, if using larger yellow tomatoes, chop them into smallish pieces.
  2. Combine chopped tomatoes with sugar in a large, non-reactive pot and stir. Let sit for at least one hour, or until the tomatoes release their juice.
  3. When ready to cook, prep canning pot and jars and place jam pot over high heat. Add lemon juice and bring to a boil.
  4. Cook at a boil for 30-35, stirring frequently, until the tomatoes have softened and the syrup has gotten thick. Check set with plate test. Once you’re satisfied with the set, remove the pot from the heat and stir in half the lemon zest and chopped basil. Taste and add remaining lemon zest only if you feel the jam requires it.
  5. Pour jam into prepared jars. Wipe rims, apply lids and rings. Process jars in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes.
  6. When time is up, remove jars from pot and let them cool on a kitchen towel. When jars are cool enough to handle, remove rings and test seals. Place any unsealed jars in the refrigerator and use promptly. All sealed jars can be stored in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year.

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131 Responses to Yellow Tomato and Basil Jam

  1. 1
    Maria says:

    Try asking your vendor for “seconds”. Every grower of cherry tomatoes deals with split tomatoes that are really not suitable for selling. This could be a win-win for both you and the farmer. Seconds make excellent jam and the farm will make a bit of money on a product that might just be bound for the compost pile.

  2. 2
    Mama Bean says:

    I wish I’d waited to use my sweet golds for tomato jam until after this post! I thought they’d make a wonderful jam because they are so sweet – and it is yummy, but I think I would have liked this basil version better. Maybe I’ll get another 4 lbs before the plants die off to try again – I know for sure I overcooked the last batch. Thanks for posting this! (I might also do a small pan jam, like you posted about recently, with whatever sweet golds I do have…)

  3. 3
    Amber says:

    I noticed that you didn’t mention peeling your tomatoes for this recipe. Is it unnecessary when you make tomato jam? Thanks for the great website. I love all the canning ideas!!

  4. 4
    meg says:

    Mmm, a yellow tomato jam! And the sungolds are perfect- and are about the only kind I can get to grow abundantly in Seattle. Hopefully I can pick enough near the same time!

  5. 5
    _j_ says:

    Wow, that really sounds good. And this is coming from someone who really does not like tomatoes.

  6. 6

    This sounds most excellent – thanks for the post!

  7. 7
    Kitty says:

    I made this the last few years using yellow pear tomatoes and it’s great to have on hand during the cold winter months.

  8. 8

    I’m excited to make this. I love the addition of basil! I just made your tomato jam yesterday and it turned out great-sweet and spicy and perfect for french fries, sweet potato fries, steak, etc. It’s one of my staples 🙂

  9. 9

    This sounds just delicious. I still haven’t tried canning a tomato jam yet, but this is one that is too tempting not to try! Thanks so much for sharing this recipe!

  10. 10
    Jess says:

    Now THIS is a recipe that is beckoning my name! Thank goodness the farmer’s market is tomorrow, I don’t know if I could wait much longer to try it out!

  11. 11

    What a great use for sungolds. I grew so many one year, it’s taken me years to be able to eat them again. I have tons of cherry tomatoes that need a good home. I was worried they had too much sugar to be canned safely. Now I can make jam! Yay-thanks!

  12. 12
    Alexia Brake says:

    Can I replace Sungold tomatoes with Yellow Pear ones (also a small grape size tomatoe) ?

  13. 13
    ann says:

    Rookie question here: is the put-up three half-pints (1.5 pints total) or three and a half pints? Thanks!

  14. 14
    PattyM says:

    Is that three and a half pints…or three half pints

  15. 15
    Lori says:

    I have a dumb question – this sounds delicious but what are you serving it with? I’ve never heard of tomato jam before – what a great idea!!

    • 15.1
      marisa says:

      It’s both sweet and savory, so you could pair it with cheese or use it in place of ketchup. I’m imagining it as part of an array of nibbles for a party – toasted baguette rounds, a smear of this cheese and a bit of fresh mozzarella.

  16. 16

    Well I made it with regular red tomatoes and I think it’s not doing well, still boiling away … but not getting thick … HELP!

    • 16.1
      marisa says:

      The tomatoes you used may have had far more water in them than the yellow tomatoes I used. You’ll have to cook it down far more in order to get a jammy consistency.

      • I did and it is now beautifully canning in he water bath and tastes soooo good even my husband who is wary of new things loved it with cream cheese … we had a little left and got 2 pints out of 4 lbs tomatoes, will be making more thank you.

  17. 17
    Shari says:

    I messed up the recipe and added the zest and basil along with the lemon juice (before the cooking). Will it turn out okay? Smells yummy! I’ll definitely do another batch the right way if I can find more yellow tomatoes. I love, love, love your tomato jam recipe! We made several batches of it last year and just opened the last jar this week.

  18. 18
    Ree says:

    Can you tell us about how much zest 2 lemons should make? I tried making this recipe last weekend but ruined it by putting too much zest in it – it turned out way way too lemony. It was great until I put the zest & basil in. I guess we grow them big out here on the West Coast!

    I think the only thing it could possibly be good for is glaze for chicken. Oh well…

    • 18.1
      marisa says:

      Unfortunately, I can’t as I didn’t measure my zest. I just scraped it off the lemons and dropped it in. It might also be that by the time the lemons get out here to Pennsylvania, they aren’t quite as pungent as they are out your way. I’m so sorry that your jam didn’t turn out!

      • vera says:

        I had the same thing happen with the zest – it overpowered everything and it tastes more like marmalade than tomatoes now. Curse those potent west coast lemons. 😛

        • marisa says:

          I’m adding a note to the recipe asking people to add the lemon zest in stages and taste as they go. I’m so bummed that there are a few of you who have been made unhappy by the lemon zest.

    • 18.2
      Jane says:

      I had the same thing happen. It was tasting so so good until I put in the zest.
      Yuck! Much too much lemon. The same thing happened when I made a blackberry jam from this site. Wish I had thought about that before I put in the zest.

  19. 19

    […] where I found the recipe for a recent favorite: peach plum compote. And when Marisa’s post on Yellow Tomato and Basil Jam popped into my inbox I let out a guffaw: how does she read my mind? Certainly I am not the only one […]

  20. 20
    Katie says:

    Does anyone know if this would work with green tomatoes?

  21. 21
    Lisa says:

    Wow! Just put the jam in the bath & it is just amazing…can’t wait to break one open. Used a mix of Sun Sugar, Yellow Pear and Wapsipinicon Peach. Sadly, had to cook it 2-3 hours as we are almost at 7000 ft and only ended up w/2 pints. Maybe I’ll get enough yellow tomatoes yet to do another batch. Thanks for the wonderful recipe!

  22. 22
    Candi says:

    I made yellow tomato jam today, hoping for a bright, clean yellow color. As it cooked, it turned darker and darker, and it had the lemon juice in it. It’s the color of apricot jam. Then, at the very end, it started to scorch, and I pulled it off the stove and poured it through a strainer, it was the seeds that had started to brown. I added the zest and the chopped basil, but did not water-bath it. The the jam is flavorful and interesting, especially with the lemon zest. I’m not sure I like the look of the chopped basil in it, it looks a little dark, and you don’t expect a leaf in your jam, but the flavor is good and will be great on chicken.

  23. 23
    Brittany says:

    I made this last night with a bunch of “seconds” from the farmers market (score!) while it was fairly runny after an hour of cooking, it tasted delicious and I went ahead and canned it. I ended up with 3 quarts-far more than your projected yield. I’m worried that it might not be acidic enough in each jar-I followed the recipe to the T but since my yield was higher I wonder if there is enough of the lemon juice in each jar? The ratio is the same but I wonder if I should just put them in my fridge now and eat it this week.

  24. 24

    […] Yellow tomatoes feel so grown-up and special. I love layering them into a tomato salad for color. You can’t just put them into a tomato sauce and call it a day. They need to be shown off. I remember seeing something about yellow tomatoes from one of my favorite (and most socially prolific) food blogs, Food in Jars. Well, Food in Jars definitely came to the rescue! […]

  25. 25
    Tamar says:

    I’m making my second batch of this right now! I used half sungolds and half larger yellow tomatoes the first time, but then I received 6 pints of sungolds from my CSA (Joshua Farm in Harrisburg) and knew I had to make more. Luckily there are a few pints left over for me to munch on while I boil the rest down. Thanks for this recipe!

  26. 26
    Ashley says:

    I just finished a batch of this with my Ildi grape tomatoes. Yikes- it went from runny to almost burnt quite quickly- I had been boiling it for about an hour and then all the sudden! Luckily it was more of a caramelized burnt that ‘burnt burnt’!

    • 26.1
      marisa says:

      Oh no!

      • Mairsydoats says:

        I had a very similar experience! Very very very juicy tomatoes – and because I was keeping a real close eye on it, I caught it just as it was trying to scorch… Saved it! And it’s more than beautiful!! I used the last couple of tablespoons to make a vinaigrette that is rocking my socks right now!

  27. 27
    Leslie M. says:

    I just made a batch with almost black heirloom tomatoes. It is an incredible color and tastes like summer. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

  28. 28
    Lanny K. says:

    WOW!!! Just made this jam yesterday. Got a whole swack of yellow tomatoes saturday at our local harvest market. It turned out marvelous. We actually added extra zest and basil to taste….I guess each to their own, we were nibbling with some lovely brie as we were canning…. What a fantastic colour. Cant wait to use this at our next gathering, we were even thinking to whip some into a cream cheese mixture for a baked potato topping
    Thanks Marisa… been a bit of a lurker on this site for the whole summer, Have made lots of your recipes….my FAV right now is the apricot and rosemary jam…with blueberry butter…(done in my antique crockpot 🙂 a close second.

  29. 29
    Nia says:

    I just made this. It is the second thing that I’ve canned ever. I can imagine using it with chicken, cheese plates, and hopefully mixed with something like capers on fish. Does anyone else have ideas for how they will use this?

    Could you reduce the sugar and it still be safe for canning?

  30. 30
    marisa lorick says:

    Was so jazzed to find your recipe today. I was looking for a canning bruschetta recipe, and stumbled upon your site. I had been putting off harvesting my yellow pear tomatoes til I figured out what to do with them. So the early girls are still on the vine, and I ended up making your recipe today. I used 8 cups of the yellow pear tomatoes, and it yielded 5 half pints, plus enough to taste test with some toast, and brie. Loved it! I was really tempted to add some fresh thyme as well, but decided to stick with the plan the first time out. Thanks for the recipe! It’s a Keeper!

  31. 31
    Lindsay J. says:

    I made this today with Green Zebra tomatoes, as mine finally came on and I had four pounds extra laying around. I didn’t add the lemon zest as I didn’t have a lemon, just lemon juice, and it still turned out amazing. I’ll definitely be making it again (and again with lemon zest, to see the difference).

  32. 32
    Mindy says:

    I’d love to get more recipes for tomato jams! How can I adapt canning recipes – or do you recommend a good place to find more tomato jam/preserve recipes? My garden is overflowing with tomatoes, I’d love to make different small batches with mixed flavors. Love this recipe, making it tomorrow!

  33. 33
    Anne F. says:

    Thank you for this. I just picked a huge bowl and was wondering what I was going to do with all of these Sungolds. Now I know!

  34. 34

    […] And all of those yellow ones (sungolds and larger ones) were made into tomato jam. This stuff was so good that I made another, bigger batch. I was skeptical of tomato jam, but I’m being adventurous in my canning and I was rewarded. You can find the recipe over at Food In Jars. […]

  35. 35
    Sandra Knoy says:

    Would love your opinion – I have a ton of yellow pear tomatoes and we just aren’t eating them fast enough. Would you suggest this recipe for them over your basic tomato jam? I would probably leave the basil out (don’t have any fresh on hand). Thanks!

    • 35.1
      Sandra Knoy says:

      Just adding that I went for it and used this recipe, as the normal tomato jam recipe would have required me to make more modifications (or go shopping…). Made this without the basil – tried it on a few crackers before I put it in jars and it’s lovely. A bit too sweet for me (and I reduced the sugar by 1/2 cup), but as others suggested I think it will be divine on top of a nice salty cheese.

      I used 4 pounds of tomatoes – most of the 4 pounds was yellow pear, but there were a few red tomatoes in there including one black krim and a couple of heirloom brandywine – all very much on the small side as if they were cherry varieties. 2 1/2 cups sugar, 1/2 cup lemon juice, and the zest of 2 lemons. It took a little over an hour for mine to cook down.

      Looking forward to trying this next year with the basil as well as trying the tomato jam recipe. We always have TONS of yellow pear tomatoes and can’t eat them fast enough.

  36. 36
    Lisa says:

    YUMMY!!! I’m so anxious to try this recipe. I’m growing yellow pear tomatoes for the first time this year and can’t wait till I get enough to try this canning recipe. I’ve already told my sweet neighbor about it and look forward to sharing a jar of it with her! Sounds wonderful……thank you!!!

  37. 37
    Mike M says:

    Never made tomato jam before but, having read this column and trying out Marisa’s recipes many times for fruit goodies, and having a glut of Sungolds, I opted to try this recipe.

    WOW! Incredible. Beyond my expectations. With our without the basil, it’s wonderful stuff – I made both versions. And now, another batch!

    It’s amazing on a Ritz cracker (they did not pay me to say this and I received no compensation) with Phillie (same statement). Grin. Doling these out to people on the playa at Burningman would seriously be a treat …. maybe I will!

  38. 38
    Cale says:

    I’d love to try this with some Sungolds from our garden today, but I’d like to can them in 4oz. jars to give away as little samples. Can I do that? Anytime I read a recipe in the Ball Blue Book, I’m terrified by how staunch they are about not altering the recipe *at all*, as if you’ll poison your whole family if you switch so much as the jar size. 🙂 I’m guessing that it would be okay to put them in 4oz. jars and process them for 10 minutes.

  39. 39
    Lisa says:

    One person commented about possibly reducing the sugar amount? I too wonder about that before making my first batch. Will this effect the texture or safety in the canning process? Still a bit of a newbie with water bath canning. Made a few jams and wow…..heavy on the sugar so I would enjoy feedback if the sugar can be reduced by say 1 cup maybe? Anxious to hear feedback……thank you!!

  40. 40
    Lisa says:

    Thank you Marisa! One more question if I may…..would using something like the Certo Fruit pectin made for canning be an OK substitute for the sugar?? I’m guessing “not” but wanted to ask in case. I tried a jam recipe just a few days ago….a blueberry cherry preserve and the amount of sugar called for really overpowered the flavor of the fruits – any suggestions?? Would like to find a way to can in a water-bath method and use less sugar. Newbie canner so I’d appreciate any suggestions……….and others too!
    Thank you, Marisa………….happy canning everyone! Lisa

    • 40.1
      Marisa says:

      Lisa, conventional pectin doesn’t replace sugar. In fact, you often need to use more sugar in order to sufficiently activate those pectins. If you’re looking to make a lower sugar jam, look into low sugar pectins like Pomona’s Pectin.

  41. 41
    Lisa says:

    Thanks Marisa – I really appreciate the advice. You’ve got a great site here – I just came across it a few months back and I’m enjoying it immensly! Happy Canning!

  42. 42
    LaRae says:

    We just made a batch but added 3 seeded and finely chopped jalopena peppers.
    This really gives it a great kick. not overpowering. I can hardly wait to try it on
    a block of cream cheese with cracker this winter !

  43. 43
    Eva says:

    I have been looking for a recipe similar to what I remember my grandmother making (unfortunately she is not around for me to ask). This seems to be close to what I she might have done except for the basil. She wasn’t a fancy cook so she probably didn’t have any extras. I believe I will try the basil though. My question is: the lemon juice, is it juice from a fresh lemon or is the bottle brand “reallemon” ok to use?
    PS glad I found your site. I’m also going to look for an icicle pickle recipe.

  44. 44
  45. 45
    Liz Pad says:

    Thanks for this recipe! I made my very first attempt at canning and decided to do this recipe as a base. I used 2 lbs. yellow Zima tomatoes and 2 lbs. red grape tomatoes. I used lime juice and herbs de provence. It yielded 5 half pints…plus a couple of teaspoons full to taste! I just heard 5 lids pop…Yay! Thanks again!

  46. 46
    Barb Clubb says:

    OMG! I just made your jam and it is beyond awesome!

    I made it with yellow tomatoes, fresh from the back yard (as well as the basil). I only had a pound of yellows this morning, so scaled down everything else, got 2 half-pints (one to keep, one to give away – well that was the plan before I tasted). Needed lots of willpower not to sit and eat the jam with a spoon! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!!

  47. 47
    Jessica says:

    I used less sugar, and only had 3/4 of the tomatoes. I must have cooked it down far more than I was supposed to. I ended up with two half pints. It looks pretty though!

  48. 48

    […] and Green Zebra (shared with us from one of our client’s gardens).    Here’s a yellow tomato and basil jam recipe from […]

  49. 49
    Bobi says:

    Amazing! First time I’ve ever had tomato jam and I am in love. Can’t wait to try your other tomato jam recipe. Thank you!

  50. 50
    Laura says:

    Thank you for this wonderful idea for our bumper crop of cherry tomatoes! Even grabbed some basil from the garden when I made it tonight 🙂


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