This sweet and spicy skillet tomato jam is the perfect way to make good use of tomatoes that are ripening more quickly than you can manage. Instead of putting them in the compost, transform them!
Skillet jams really are the best way I know to deal with a couple pounds of rapidly ripening fruit. Today’s batch was a slimmed down, extra spicy and smoky version of my classic tomato jam.
I had just two pounds of mismatched tomatoes from last week’s Philly Foodworks share and with a vacation looming, I’ve been trying to make useful things out of everything that could possibly go bad around here.
I chopped up the tomatoes, combined them with 1 1/4 cup of granulated sugar, and let them macerate over night (I do so love breaking up the work of even the smallest batches of preserves into easily manageable pieces).
Then today, I poured the juicy sugared tomatoes into my trusty 12 inch skillet and added 4 tablespoons of bottled lemon juice, 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger, 2 teaspoons of crushed red pepper flakes, 1 generous teaspoon of smoked paprika, another teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne.
The tomatoes cooked down over hight heat for just around 20 minutes, until it was glossy, thick, and didn’t look at all watery. Into a trio of half pint jars and processed for 15 minutes, this little batch took less than an hour total of active time.
Like all tomato jams, this one is good with cheese and crackers, slathered on a burger, eaten with sweet potato fries, or dolloped alongside scrambled eggs.
Frequently Asked Questions About Skillet Tomato Jam
What kind of tomatoes are best for this jam? You can use any tomatoes you have, but know that the juicier the tomatoes, the lower the yield. A meaty tomato like a roma, paste, or even grape tomato will give you a higher yield, whereas a juicy heirloom slicer with produce a lower yield.
Can I reduce the amount of sugar? I don’t recommend reducing the sugar in this preserve. In this recipe, which does not employ added pectin, the sugar is playing a vital role in creating the set. If you reduce it, the cooking time will increase, the yield will decrease, and you may not be happy with the finished preserve. Read more about sugar’s role in canning.
I can swap in a non-sugar sweetener? This recipe will not work as written with artificial sweeteners. To read more about why the swap won’t work, click here.
Do I have to can this small batch of tomato jam? No, you don’t have to can it. You can simply funnel the finished product into a clean jar and refrigerate it. It will keep about a month in the fridge.
Can I can this jam in different sized jars? Yes. As long as the jar is 16 ounces or smaller, the processing time remains the same.
Can I double this recipe? Yes. Just know that the cooking time will be longer if you increase the volume in the pan. If you do double, make sure to use the lowest, widest pot you have. I don’t recommend cooking this jam in a stock pot, as it depends on evaporate to achieve set, and they are designed to prevent evaporation. I don’t recommend doing a batch larger than double the recipe in one pot, as it will be very hard to cook down.
Smoky, Spicy, Skillet Tomato Jam
- 2 pounds tomatoes
- 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 4 tablespoons bottled lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
- 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- If you plan on canning the finished jam, prepare a boiling water bath canner and three half pint jars. Wash three rings and lids with warm, soapy water and set them aside.
- Chop the tomatoes. Place them in a roomy bowl and add sugar. Stir to combine. Let sit for at least ten minutes, until juicy. If you prefer, you can cover the tomatoes and refrigerate them for up to 24 hours before proceeding with the jam.
- When you're ready to cook, pour the sugared tomatoes into a low, wide, nonreactive pan, like a large stainless steel skillet and place it on the stove. The large amount of surface area allows the tomatoes to cook down quickly. If you use a narrower cooking vessel, the cooking time will increase.
- Add the lemon juice (if you plan on canning the finished product, please make sure to use bottled lemon juice, as that ensures that the finished product contains enough acid to ensure safety), ginger, red pepper flakes, smoked paprika, salt, and cayenne. Stir to combine.
- Turn the burner to high heat and bring the tomatoes to a rapid boil. Reduce the heat to medium high and cook, stirring often, for 15-20 minutes. You want to cook until the tomatoes no longer look watery and have taken on a thick, glossy finish. My favorite way to judge whether a skillet jam like this one is done is by watching how it behaves as I stir. When it is nearly done, you'll be able to clear a spot in the jam with your spoon and it will stay open for a moment or two, before the fruit rushes back in to fill it up. I like to say that it's nearly sculptable when it's done.
- When you judge that the jam is done, remove the pan from the stove. Funnel the finished jam into the prepared jars. Wipe the rims, apply lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath canner for 15 minutes.
- When the time is up, turn off the heat and remove the lid. Let the jars rest in the cooling water for 5 minutes. When that time has elapsed, remove the jars and set them on a folded kitchen towel to cool. When the jars have cooled enough that you can comfortably handle them, check the seals. Sealed jars can be stored at room temperature for up to a year. Any unsealed jars should be refrigerated and used promptly.