Classic Tomato Jam Sweetened With Honey

five pounds tomatoes

It’s Monday morning and I’m just getting to the recipe I promised for Friday afternoon. I apologize to those of you who’ve been holding onto tomatoes all weekend in the hopes that this honey-sweetened tomato jam would appear. I have a bad habit of widely underestimating how long things are going to take me to accomplish and sadly, this post was delayed because of my poor estimation skills.

chopped tomatoes

Every since it first appeared on this blog, my friend Amy’s recipe for tomato jam has been one of the most popular things I’ve posted. The original post has hundreds of comments and nearly every time I teach a class or do a book event, someone comes up to me raving about the wonders of tomato jam.

honeyed tomato jam

It’s one of my favorite things as well. I smear it on turkey burgers, serve it with goat cheese, and use it as a dipping sauce for roasted sweet potatoes. Essentially, it’s a very fancy, chunky ketchup-substitute that can be used in all manner of both sweet and savory applications.

finished honey sweetened tomato jam

All summer long, I’ve been pulling out the sugar in many of my favorite recipes and dropping in honey instead. This recipe is the latest to undergo the conversion and I think it might be the most successful swap to date. The slightly honey flavor pairs beautifully with the tomatoes. The spices continue to sing and the yield is comparable to the sugared version. Truly, the only difference I’ve noticed is that this honey sweetened version isn’t as glossy as its counterpart. Happily, the sheen is the only thing that’s missing. The flavor is there in spades.

A couple of things to note. The length of time this jam can spend cooking varies widely. Stay close to the stove, stir regularly, and use a stainless steel pan in case it scorches. Towards the end of cooking, you should be stirring near constantly. You know this jam is finished when there’s no visible water separating out from the fruit. You’ll also hear a slightly sizzling noise as you stir towards the end of cooking. That’s a sign that the sugars have concentrated that the temperature in the pan is elevated beyond the boiling point of water. When you hear that, you are mere moments away from completion. Keep stirring for a moment or two longer and then pull the pan off the heat.

Honey-Sweetened Tomato Jam

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 2 hours

Yield: 5 to 7 half pints

Ingredients

  • 5 pounds tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups honey
  • 1/2 cup bottled lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon red chili flakes
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a low, wide, non-reactive pot (stainless steel is best, because if you experience any scorching or burning, you can scrub it easily). Bring to a boil over high heat and then reduce temperature to medium high.
  2. Stirring regularly, cook the jam at a low boil until it reduces to a sticky, jammy mess. This takes anywhere from 1 to 2 hours, depending on the heat of your stove, the width of your pan, and the water content of your tomatoes.
  3. Towards the end of cooking, as the jam begins to thicken, reduce the heat to medium and continue to stir. This jam has a tendency to burn at the very end of cooking time, as the sugars concentrate and the temperature level in the pan increase.
  4. When you're 15 or 20 minutes out from the jam being finished, prepare a boiling water bath canner and 6 or 7 half pint jars (the yield will be between 5 and 7 half pints). Place lids in a small pan of water and bring to a bare simmer.
  5. Once the jam is thick and there is no visible water separating out from the fruit, it is done. Remove the pan from the heat and stir for 2 to 3 minutes. This helps evaporate out the last of the water and will give you a better set when the jam cools.
  6. Funnel jam into prepared jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Wipe rims, apply lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath canner for 15 minutes.
  7. When time is up, remove jars and place them on a folded kitchen towel to cool. When jars are fully cool, remove rings and test seals. Sealed jars are shelf stable. Any unsealed jars should be refrigerated and used promptly.
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75 Responses to Classic Tomato Jam Sweetened With Honey

  1. 1
    Shawn says:

    This sounds amazing, especially since I try to avoid sugar! Question though, I don’t see honey listed in the recipe… Are we supposed to replace the sugar with it?

  2. 2
    christina says:

    This looks interesting as my husband loves ketchup variations but gee, it makes a lot! And 2.5 cups of honey is… expensive… especially to try something I’m not sure we’ll like. Is it possible to half this recipe without compromising ph and canning safety?

    • 2.1
      Marisa says:

      Yep, you can cut it in half without any issue.

    • 2.2
      Julie says:

      Christina, I have a micro batch on the stove right now (half a pound of cherry tomatoes – it was soooo fun reducing the recipe to 1/10!), and it used 1/4 C of honey. I’m not going to process it, just refrigerate and use it soon. Maybe try a one-pound batch until you know if you like it. Oh, and it is cooking up very quickly in a 10″ skillet. Half an hour, and it’s almost done.

  3. 3
    Darlene says:

    The first recipe of yours I ever made is tomato jam. I enjoy it on steaks or with brie, but it wasn’t such a huge hit with my friends. It’s definitely an acquired taste.

  4. 4
    caroline mitchel says:

    I love this jam! Can’t wait to try the honey variation. It makes a wonderful barbeque sauce, sometimes I doctor it up, we prefer a more vinegary sauce. Beware, it does scorch.
    Thank you!!!

  5. 5
    Jen says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I have stopped eating cane sugar and have been looking for recipes that use honey, maple syrup, etc. to use for canning, because I love canning. I really appreciate your sharing this and I can’t wait to try it. I love tomato jam!

  6. 6
    Jacinda says:

    Thank you!!! I LOVE tomato jam, preserves, etc… it’s something of a nostalgia thing for me, as my grandmother used to make tomato preserves when I was growing up and I loved them so very much… hadn’t had any probably since I was a teen (yes, over 30 yrs… :P) lol… until I was recently at an organic farmer’s market and discovered a small-batch maker of various jams… they had a spicy tomato jam and it was AMAZING!!!

    I’m really looking forward to trying to make my own (especially since the little 6 or 7 oz jar that I bought cost me $7… lol)

    Anyway, thank you again!

  7. 7
    Peggy says:

    OH this sounds perfect and talk about perfect timing!! My next door neighbor just told me I could have the remainder of her tomatoes! I still need to put up more sauce but this will be perfect in helping me to start using up the copious amounts of honey I have on hand! Thank you!

  8. 8
    Michelle says:

    Try cooking your tomatoes for 30-45 minutes before you put the rest of the ingredients in the pan….you will still meld all of the flavors instead of cooking them all out….I agree that lime is the way to go with tomato jam….

  9. 9
    Laurie Sagerman says:

    Marisa, would it be possible to do this in the crock pot on high, then at the end transfer to a pot on the stove and med boil for a while if it needed?

    • 9.1
      Marisa says:

      You could certainly give it a try. I’ve not done it that way, but I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t work!

      • Laurie Sagerman says:

        Thanks Marisa so much~!!! Reason being, we use propane for our stove (we live on top of a Mountain) and 2 hours of cooking uses alot of propane! I’ll let you know how it turns out…….It would also be a time saver in the long run. ~~Laurie~~ :) Also ,approx how many tomatoes in 5 Pounds~????

        • Marisa says:

          Tomatoes come in so many different sizes, so that’s not really a question I can answer. I typically get 12 to 14 cups of chopped tomatoes, though.

      • Yvonne F says:

        Hi, I’m planning to make this recipe soon and wondered if you had ever tried using agave nectar instead of honey.

  10. 10
    Lisa says:

    Sounds great! Can the recipe be doubled? Do you peel the tomatoes?

  11. 11

    How about using a crockpot to reduce your chances of scorching. I am trying this as I make pear butter and it is easy breezy no worries of it burning.

    • 11.1
      Marisa says:

      You could do the initial cook-down in a crock pot, but eventually you’d need to move it to the stovetop in order to get the heat necessary to thicken it.

  12. 12
    Steph says:

    Just found your blog and I love it! I just posted on my blog about my adventures with concord grapes; I thought you might like it:
    http://homecookingeveryday.com/blog/2013/9/24/concord-grape-harvest

    Steph

  13. 13
    Becky says:

    I really want to make this! Looks like I will be hitting the produce stand this weekend- already have the honey thanks to affordable Amish prices!

  14. 14
    Trissi V. says:

    Oh my! I can’t wait to try out this jam. My sister turned me on to your blog when I wanted to start canning. your Vanilla Strawberry Jam was a real gateway recipe into my new obsession.

    What kind of tomatoes do you suggest? Or does it matter? I am assuming that the 1/2 cup of bottled lime juice takes care of the PH for this recipe.

    • 14.1
      Marisa says:

      You’ll get a higher yield with meatier tomatoes. But I’ve made it with heirloom slicers, sungolds, romas, and paste tomatoes and it’s always good.

  15. 15
    ce.leb says:

    Marisa, do you think its save to add chopped onion (shallots) to the recipe? I did that before in another tomato jam recipe, but I stored it in the fridge and didnt canned it.
    thanks for the recipe!

  16. 16
    Alison says:

    I think I’ll try this today with maple syrup instead of honey. It will probably need more cooking time to evaporate the more liquid consistency, but maple syrup is our sweetener, here in the woods.

  17. 17

    […] used Marisa’s Honey Recipe from Food in Jars. I did tweak it a little as I found it too sweet for me. I added a little more […]

  18. 18
    Kimberly says:

    This is seriously the most delicious recipe I have ever canned. Thank you!

  19. 19
    Jennifer says:

    Thank you for this recipe–I made it and it is delicious!! Can I reduce the amount of honey and still be safe? It is really sweet and I think it will still be just as delicious with a less honey.

    • 19.1
      Marisa says:

      There is no safety issue with reducing the set. However, it can alter the set of the jam.

      • Jennifer says:

        Thank you. I did reduce the honey on my second batch, but I went back to the recipe as stated for my third batch which I made last night. I love this stuff!! I do have one more question for you. My finished jars have air pockets in them. I read your post about air bubbles and only time will tell if these become active bubbles, right now they are just air pockets. I could not figure out a way to bubble these jars because my final product was so thick. Did I perhaps cook the jam too long? Should it be a little runnier so that it will settle in the jars without leaving open spaces? How do you eliminate air pockets when you are canning something so thick? And finally, is the jam still fine for long term storage with the air pockets? Thanks again for your help.

        • Marisa says:

          Honestly, you don’t need to worry about those air pockets. The reason we bubble jars is to prevent product loss during processing. If you get through processing without product loss, you no longer need to worry about the air pockets. The only way they’ll turn into active bubbles is if the jam suddenly starts to ferment. That is very unlikely given the length of the processing time. All is well. Enjoy the jam.

  20. 20
    Cyndi says:

    Thanks again for this recipe Marisa. I’ve made it with sugar and now with honey and both are just delicious. One of my favorites!

  21. 21
    Audrey says:

    I have a pot on the stove without salt because the recipe doesn’t specify fine or course sea salt. Any input welcome. Hope to hear back before it’s done, but if I don’t I’ll toss a coin! Thanks.

  22. 22
    Vonda says:

    I LOVE tomato jam/preserves and have been looking for a recipe! Can you use dry ginger instead? Thank you!

    • 22.1
      Marisa says:

      You certainly can, though the flavor won’t be quite the same.

    • 22.2
      Ellen says:

      I buy a ginger root and keep it wrapped in plastic wrap and place that in a freezer bag in the freezer to use whenever I need some grated ginger. I’ve used it for months (and up to a year)!

  23. 23
    Amanda B. says:

    Hands down, the most delicious thing ever. The kitchen smelled great for days, and I can’t stop eating this stuff with toasts and cheese. Thanks!

  24. 24
    Nancy says:

    Is Lakewood Organic Lime juice OK for hot water bath canning? I cannot find anywhere on the bottle that it states 5% acidity. If it is not ok to use can i store my jars in the fridge?

  25. 25

    […] Speaking of tomato and jam, I think I’ll make tomato jam with some of these rescued tomatoes. Maybe this recipe? Or this one? […]

  26. 26
    Mike says:

    I tried this recipe. It tasted amazing but only gave me about a pint of jam.??? Any reason why or how this could happen. I followed the recipe perfectly

    • 26.1
      Marisa says:

      I am really surprised that you started with 5 pounds of tomatoes and only yielded a pint of jam. Maybe they were incredibly watery tomatoes?

  27. 27
    Retta says:

    I have been making tomato jam for years, and I always use maple syrup. It is a natural antioxidant, and compliments the tomato acidity well. I add fresh thyme toward the end, then add caramelized onion and sherry vinegar for a little kick. Maple syrup is the way to go. Honey, although lovely, can tend to mask some of the tomatoe’s natural flavors.

    • 27.1
      Marisa says:

      The problem with maple syrup is that it’s actually quite low in acid and so can push the acidity of tomato jam into an unsafe range.

  28. 28
    Tom says:

    As a Federal employee while on furlough, I tried this and made some adjustments. I used only 1 cup of honey, used fresh lime and lime zest, mixed everything together and covered it with Saran wrap for about 4 hours. Then I cooked it and it was phenomenal!! I made so much that I put them in jars and gave away for Christmas! I saved a few for myself, but I still have to take it easy due to type I diabetes. It’s good with the honey because it almost preserves the flavor. Thanks for type he recipe!

  29. 29
    Virginia says:

    Marisa, I was wondering if this recipe could be made with the Jam and Jelly machine? I just purchased a new machine and have been looking for jam and jelly recipes to use in it. Thanks for you response. Virginia

    • 29.1
      Marisa says:

      I don’t think it would work in a jam and jelly machine because this requires a long cook-down process, which you just don’t get with a machine. There’s no way you’d get to a satisfying consistency.

  30. 30

    It worked! It worked!

    I had 1 1/2 tired tomatoes weighing in just under a pound. So I cut everything back proportionately and kept the stove heat moderate. 45 minutes later — TOMATO JAM!! Not going to water process since it produced only about 1/2 cup.

    Because I’m going to share this with a spice-averse 8-yr-old, I skipped the pepper flakes. So it’s a little one-note — I don’t care — it’s like the best ketchup ever!

  31. 31
    Jane says:

    Can I use fresh lime juice instead of bottled? I’m sorry if you’ve already addressed this question. Alternately, can I substitute fresh (or bottled) lemon juice? Sounds like the recipe is perfect as written I’ll need to find some decent bottled lime juice. Thanks!

  32. 32
    Sharon Drummond says:

    I made a half batch of this yesterday and today had some spread on a grilled cheddar cheese sandwich for lunch. Divine!

  33. 33
    Karen Miller says:

    I’ve been wanting to make this recipe since I found this site, and before all the homegrown tomatoes were gone for the season. Yesterday was that day. This jam is even better than I imagined! Sweet, hot, thick, and syrupy all in one. (I used ‘Very Hot Crushed Red Pepper from Penzey’s) because that’s what my family likes.) De-licious! This will probably become part of my Christmas gifts this year. The MO homegrown tomatoes were thick and meaty; not many seeds. It did take two hours but the kitchen is my favorite room in the house anyway. I loved watching the fruit change in texture. My yield was 5 (1/2 pint jars).

  34. 34
    Caroline says:

    I made the Tomato Jam recipe this weekend — amazing! I’ll try this honey version soon. But, I wanted to ask, why does this recipe call for 1/2″ of headspace and the sugar-sweetened version for 1/4″ of headspace?

    Thanks for all your great tips and recipes!

    • 34.1
      Marisa says:

      Caroline, the differential in headspace comes from the fact that I wrote these recipes at different times. I tend to opt for 1/2 inch of headspace these days, because it is an easier mark to hit. Truly though, the headspace can be anywhere between 1/2 and 1/4 inch.

  35. 35
    Carol James says:

    Making this jam now and it smells amazing! I was thrilled to find a recipe that used honey instead of sugar. Can’t wait to “wow” my guests with this sweet, spicy concoction with some salty cheese this fall! Yum!

  36. 36
    Laurel Hueston says:

    can this recipe be safely divided in half, I don’t have quite enough tomatoes to make a full batch.

  37. 37
    Noella says:

    Made this jam today. It smelled so good cooking! Can’t wait to try it. It made 4 pints ( 6 jelly jars and a 1 pint )

  38. 38
    Laurel Hueston says:

    after walking back out to my garden to round up a few more tomatoes I had just enough to make a full batch of this wonderful creation of Jam..My very first try at canning jam..There are so many options a person can do with this Jam..Mixed with a portion of hellman’s mayo makes a nice spread or combined with goat’s cheese or cream cheese makes a nice dip, it can be used as a glaze on salmon, pork roast, or chicken, I decided to put some in my steamed rice with red pepper..Oh, the jam came out good..

  39. 39
    Toni Shade says:

    Love this! Can this be frozen instead of canned?

  40. 40

    […] Joe’s with both girls, I decided to do.some.stuff today. What was on the docket? Red beans. Yellow Tomato Honey-sweetened JamĀ (although I used a lot less honey – last year, mine was super honey-flavored). Oven-roasted […]

  41. 41
    Shawn O'Reilly says:

    So I have been looking for a recipe that does not require the amount of sugar that my ‘Ball’ book stated I needed to use… just comes out WAY to sweet and I end up throwing it out! Especially with tomato’s from the garden that are already vine ripened and are supper sweet themselves! Even still, only used about half the called for honey, and also substituted maple syrup instead since I am low on honey – and it is still pretty sweet!
    I also went off the recipe a bit, did not have pepper flakes, so used a hot sauce in the fridge instead – also added the vinegar element that I wanted due to using fresh lime zest and juice – and about a tablespoon of tequila! Which the alcohol is simmered off, but the taste!!! I used a really cheap tequila – which is what I usually use for my margarita chicken – cheaper the better – has a really strong taste to it, which makes it poor for drinking, but the flavors meld into what ever you are cooking – and this tomato jam is defiantly no exception!
    Finally, I only got one pint out of my recipe – but that may also be due to the fact that I only had about 1 1/2 cups to 2 cups of tomato’s going in – but really wanted to try this version a try, and very glad that I did.

  42. 42

    […] from Food in Jars is my all-time favorite foodie to follow. Her recipe for honey sweetened tomato jam was just what I needed for the 5 pounds of tomatoes I inherited from Andrew’s parents’ […]

  43. 43
    CW says:

    Would it be ok to put this in the blender wither before your start cooking it or after you are done cooking it (before you can it…) to make a smoother seedless texture?

    • 43.1
      Marisa says:

      I don’t suggest pureeing at the start of cooking, because it won’t cook down well. You could puree it at the end, though I’ve not done that so I can’t say exactly how it will turn out.

      • CW says:

        It definitely didn’t need blending. I was thinking it would be like salsa and retain the chunks.
        One additional question…should the finish product be set like a jam or a bit loose like a salsa? I cooked it down for 2.5 hours, and it seemed like I got all the water out but perhaps not.

        If it didn’t set, is it ok to shelve or does it need to be refrigerated?

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