Tomato Jam

September 15, 2010

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).

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 jam was too sweet and entirely without texture. It needs the skin and seeds. Don’t take them out.

Tomato Jam

Yield: Varies depending on the kind of tomato used, pan width and the finished thickness*

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Notes

*The finished yield on this recipe varies depending on the kind of tomato you use, the width of your pan and the finished thickness to which you cook it.

https://foodinjars.com/recipe/tomato-jam/

511 responses to “Tomato Jam”

  1. I just tasted some tomato jam which was wonderful. The ingredients listed on the label are all you list in your recipe, except this one had Pectin and yours does not. Could you add pectin and then just bring to a full boil again (like in other fruit jams), lessening the amount of time to sort of cook down the mixture as in your recipe? Thanks so much. Can’t wait to make some . . . delicious!

    • I feel like the extended cooking time helps concentrate the flavor. I wouldn’t use pectin with this recipe.

  2. I love love love this tomato jam! My son tried some at a restaurant and wanted me to see if I could find a recipe and make it. I made it last year before the holidays once then four more times. I gave a lot away over the holidays and everyone loved it! Some good friends didn’t even hint, they outright asked for more. I am down to my last jar in the pantry so just made one recipe, the jars are cooling and another is on the stove. This is such a favorite of our family that we make two recipes at a time and hide it. Thanks for all of your great recipes. Love your book, Food in Jars, as well.

  3. Oh my god. Thank you so, so much for this recipe. I’ve been looking for a tomato jam recipe for eons and here you are! I am over the moon! I was wondering, do you think it would be alright to add an onion? Thank you so much. Ahhh I feel like your recipe was the rope that has pulled me from the pits of the inter-webs where I have languished, looking for a tomato jam recipe. Thank you so much for putting how long it lasts as well, a lot of recipes don’t do that. Hope you have a lovely day,

    Eve.

        • You need to refrigerate the batch to which you added onions. It’s too low in acid to be safely preserved in a boiling water bath and so could potentially harbor botulism if stored at room temperature.

  4. This is absolutely great stuff! As is often the case, the first batch I made — the “accident” — turned out to be the best thing I’ve ever made. The subsequent 2 batches were really, really good, but nothing like the first. What I think happened the first time was I either didn’t have enough tomatoes, or their water content was low, and I only got 1 1/2 jars. But, it was exquisite! Maybe because the other proportions were full? It was rich and intense. I did it late in the season, so there were no good field-grown tomatoes left to try to recreate the accident and I refuse to use anything in the grocery stores. Next summer, for sure… I ended up giving the one “first batch” jar to a foodie from New Orleans, who raved about it the whole time he was in California! Now that’s success. Thanks for a wonderful recipe that will be in my Christmas give-away baskets this year.

  5. I am actually looking for what Americans call jelly conserve. In Australia we make jam from fruit including tomatoes, sugar aond sometimes add in things like pineapple or ginger or extra lemon. It is used as a spread on bread not as a sauce when cooking main meals. Thank you anyway. I will keep looking.

  6. What is the shelf life of your tomato jam?
    Also I added a little olive oil to the process for flavor.
    Is this safe

    • It’s generally not a good idea to add oil of any kind to a preserve that has not been designed to include it. It can inhibit a seal or cause the product to spoil more quickly.

      Without additional oil, this tomato jam keeps well for at least 2 years on the shelf. The oil will surely shorten that shelf life.

  7. Hi Marisa, I just started making jam just a couple of weeks ago. I started with papaya that my neighbor gave me and it was too sweet. So I’m learning to taste first and then add more. I then made mango jam which came out great and then made strawberry and that was wonderful, and yesterday I made zucchini jam which took so much time shredding them, but I put the jars in the frig. I did not know you can put yours in the cabinet. Was I suppose to put the others in the cabinet. Could you put your tomato in the frig or should I just put it in the cabinet like you said. This is so much fun making jams.

    Thank you,

    Debbie

    • You can only process jams for the cabinet if the recipe has been designed for a boiling water bath canning process. This tomato jam was created to be safe for boiling water bath canning. I don’t know if your zucchini jam was, but chances are good that it needs to be stored in the refrigerator.

  8. Hi Marisa, I just started the tomato jam. I really don’t know if I had 5lb’s of tomato’s, but I chopped them up good and I used lemon instead of lime. I measured all the dry stuff, but used a little less. I also chopped up my ginger very fine. I only used 1 1/2 cups of sugar. I have my jars already and the pot for the bath. Oh btw, I did give my zucchini a water bath for 5 minutes per recipe and Marisa, it came out great. Two of my neighbors loved it and gave one to my daughter which she loved. You can put it on anything, meat, sandwiches, cheese. Oh so good. I just hope your recipe comes out good, but if not its my fault and then I will try again. It has hour and 1/2 to go and I will let you know how it came out. This is so fun to do. I also want to make an apple butter recipe. If you have one could you send me. I would love to give you my email, but everyone on here would see it. Do you have an email I can talk to you about jarring things. I’m not that good on the computer and I can’t believe I got to reply to which took me awhile. I thank you again.

    Have a great day.

    Debbie

  9. Marisa, I made the tomato jam, but when you open the jar do you put it in the frig or do you still keep it out in the cabinet.

    Thank you

    Debbie

  10. You said when the jam is done, you said to put in a cool dark place. So where do you put yours. I thought you could put in a cabinet which is dark and cool place.
    Sorry to bother you so many times, but like I said, I am new at this.

    Thank you and have a good.

    Debbie

    • Sorry, I read your note wrong. Now I understand. I will not bother you anymore. My next thing I want to make is apple butter. I have 8 apples which said to cook in a crock pot on another website. So I may try that. Take care and thank you for all your advice. Sorry again for all the questions.
      Debbie

  11. Hi Marisa! I was just wondering if I could use any tomatoes? A mixture of full size and cherries maybe? Thanks!

    • You can use any tomatoes you want. Just know that the yield will vary depending on the water content of the tomatoes you use.

  12. Would making substitutions like brown sugar or ground cumin and adding 2 tsp of fish sauce or a few cloves of garlic significantly change the ph?

    • The garlic could impact the pH. I don’t think any of those other changes would make it unsafe, though.

      • Thanks Marisa! I’ll add some citric acid to counter the garlic. I love your tomato jam. It’s so wonderful that I use it for presents.

  13. Marisa,
    Do I need to add any citric acid at all or does the lime juice suffice? Also, can I cook in pressure cooker instead of hot water bath?

    • You don’t need citric acid in this recipe, the lime juice adds plenty of extra acid. And there’s absolutely no need to pressure can this preserve. Because lime juice raises the acid content, the finished product is well below the pH cut-off of 4.6. So the boiling water bath is fine. To use a pressure canner would be overkill.

  14. Hello! Love your site! I’ve made this recipe and enjoyed it, although it came out a little sweeter than I like. I have tons of cherry tomatoes ripening, and am concerned that it will be inedibly sweet if I use them. Can I reduce the sugar? I’d still like it to be safe for long-term storage, though. Any suggestions?

    Thanks!

  15. I’ve been canning since the spring thru your books, starting with rhubarb jam and chutney, and I just finished up some batches of peach BBQ sauce, peach salsa and classic dills this week. I’m new to it and your books have made it so easy and fun, so thank you! Looking forward to tomatoes, do you think I could cook this jam in the slow cooker if I left the lid ajar? Thanks again!

    • I’ve never done the tomato jam in a slow cooker, but I’m sure you could. It will take hours, though.

  16. Hi I made this jam but my kids think it tastes too much like ginger snaps. So I was thinking about adjusting the spices. Do you have any suggestions? I think the cloves overpowered it for them. Or was it that I grated the ginger with a microplane. I would like to make it again, so I am wondering how to adjust the spices. Maybe 1/4 tsp cloves? Thanks for your help.

    • Anne, it’s probably the cinnamon and cloves that makes it taste like gingersnaps to your kids. I’d leave those out next time and then taste and adjust as you cook.

      • Thanks so much for responding. I am definately making this again and will try to adjust it for them. I tried making another recipe I found on pinterest but it was a big fail. I have your book and love dreaming about what I might make next. Thanks for sharing all of your recipes on line too. I am planning on doing the red onion jam and the peach salsa next.

  17. Hi Marisa. I’ve been enjoying your recipes. I’ve been canning over 39
    Years and normally can 450-500 jars of food yearly. I’ve done everything with tomatoes except ham and was excited to see this recipe. I have a quick question. I used Roma tomatoes as I thought they’d be thicker and better for this recipe. I followed the recipe and after 2 hours of cooking my
    Kettle was full of fluid. I drained off 12.3 cups of water. I hated to waste the tomatoes and knowing they need the sugar and lime juice to be safe I added again. 1 1/2 hours later my kettles full of water again. How do I get it to the sticky jam stage. I normally make over 150 jars of various jam in the summer with no problem. I’m stymied and hate to
    Waste this. Thanks. Terri

    • I don’t even understand how it was possible that you had more than 12 cups of water from a recipe that starts with just five pounds of tomatoes. If you didn’t follow the recipe, I can’t help you.

  18. Just looking through the comments (I’ve made this recipe every year for the last five and only today took a look at the comments – ha!). I always use the slow cooker for this combo and it turns out great. It takes a bit longer in my older slow cooker but in the newer, larger crock pot it takes about 4 hrs unless you have really watery tomatoes.

  19. I had a really quick question I am making the tomato jam and I use the 5 lb of grape tomatoes It is taken over an hour and a half now and it is still not to a sticky consistency. I was wondering if I did something wrong or if it can take longer for it to boil down I had it on a very low simmer I have now raised the simmer to a higher one

    • You need a pretty aggressive simmer. I will occasionally even do a hard boil, depending on the amount of liquid that the tomatoes are putting off.

  20. Hello!
    I made a tomato jam recipe found on this site that we loved so much, I remember it differently, was there another recipe at one point?
    Thanks!

  21. Hi Marisa, This is my second year making this incredible jam. I didn’t get a huge tomato crop out of my garden however and am wondering if I use the best store-bought tomatoes I can find, do you think I’ll still have successful results? (Yes, I knoew that’s going to be pricey!) My family cannot handle it if this isn’t available all year 😀 and extended family requests it, too!

    • It is fine to use tasty store bought tomatoes in this jam. I’ve made it several times with grape tomatoes from Costco and it’s been great.

  22. First year canning anything on my own–Pandemic pantry–have grown my own tomatoes for years.
    This recipe is the BEST!
    I decrease the sugar a little as I prefer less sweet and it does take a bit longer to get all happy and sticky but worth the wait.

    I used so far on a turkey burger, avocado toast, and grilled cheese sandwich.
    Thanks for sharing your knowledge to the novices of the world.
    Maria

  23. I never got around to making any tomato jam this year. All of my slicing tomatoes are long done for the season. But I still have sauce tomatoes growing. Would they work or would they be too dry? Thanks!

  24. I love this jam and have been making it for years! Love it on grilled cheese, turkey or ham sandwiches, poured over cream cheese or used as a dip for grilled shrimp, I could go on and on. But I do have a question.

    I freeze mine (rather than can) and usually eat it within the year. This year, I found some that I made two summers ago. It still smells & looks fine. I didn’t think jam could go bad in the freezer, but have seen it’s usually recommended to freeze anywhere from 6 to 12 months. Any thoughts on this? Thanks so much.

  25. In my very old Kerr canning book( 1940’s), there is a recipe for tomato conserve. It contains tomatoes, sugar, lemon and ginger. I make every few years. It is quite lovely. For those looking for a conserve, check with your grannies and great-grans.

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