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.
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.
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.
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
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.