This tomato jam is one of the most popular recipes I’ve ever published. I can’t even take credit for it, the recipe came to me from a friend! It’s better than the most delicious ketchup you’ve ever tasted. I’ve updated the photos, but the recipe is the same.
I used to have a fantastic coworker named John. He was calm in the face of chaos, had a buoyant sense of humor and knew how not to take things too seriously. And, his wife Amy just happened to be my kitchen soulmate. You’ve got to love a coworker who comes attached to good people.
Amy was the first person to introduce to me tomato jam and now I can’t go back to a life without it. She gave me a jar with the recipe attached, and I am forever grateful. I use it in place of ketchup (with turkey burgers), as well as in places where ketchup wouldn’t dare to tread (try it with a soft, stinky cheese. It is life changing). I also love serving it with roasted root vegetables like sweet potatoes and carrots.
For those of you who are accustomed to preserving tomatoes, you’ll notice that this recipe does not call for you to peel these tomatoes. That is not a mistake.
The first time I made a batch, I thought I could improve on things and peeled and seeded the tomatoes prior to cooking them down. However, without those bits, the finished tomato jam was too sweet and entirely without texture. It needs the skin and seeds. Don’t take them out.
A few things to know about this jam.
Don’t double the batch. This jam doesn’t use any additional pectin and so gets to the proper texture through reduction and sugar concentration. If you increase the batch size, the cooking time will greatly increase and it will be much harder to get to the proper texture before the bottom of the pot begins to burn.
Tomato choice matters. The yield of this jam can vary widely depending on the variety of tomato you use. Meaty tomatoes like paste, Roma, or San Marzano will produce a higher yield. Super watery tomatoes like heirloom slicers will produce a smaller yield. Any tomato can be used, but the yield can vary up to a full depending on your choice.
Wider pots are better. The more surface area you give the jam, the faster and more efficiently it will reduce. Stock pots are designed to prevent evaporation, so they aren’t the best choice for this recipe. A low, wide Dutch oven or soup pot is a better option.
- 5 pounds tomatoes finely chopped
- 3 1/2 cups sugar
- 8 tablespoons bottled lime juice
- 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon red chili flakes
- Combine all ingredients in a large, non-reactive pot. Bring to a boil and then reduce temperature to a simmer. Stirring regularly, cook at a low boiluntil it reduces to a sticky, jammy mess. This will take between 1 and 1 1/2 hours, depending on how high you keep your heat.
- When the jam has cooked down sufficiently, remove from heat and fill jars, leaving 1/4 inch of head space. Wipe rims, apply lids and twist on rings. Process in a boiling water canner for 20 minutes.
- When time is up, remove jars from water bath and allow them to cool. When jars are cool enough to handle, test seals. Store jars in a cool, dark place for up to one year.