Yellow Tomato and Basil Jam

September 1, 2011(updated on August 30, 2021)

yellow tomato basil jam

Last summer, Scott and I spent a weekend in New York. While wandering the Union Square Greenmarket, I picked up a half pint jar of yellow tomato jam. Soon after we got home, I cracked it open and proceeded to make quick work of it. It was good with cheese and even better as a glaze for roasted chicken thighs.

Since then, I’ve been pondering yellow tomato jam. I really wanted to make it from Sungold tomatoes since they are so sweet, but they can be prohibitively expensive if you haven’t grown your own and you’re buying them in the city (I’ve seen them for as much as $5 a pint at farmers’ markets).

Then, when at Root’s Market in Lancaster County last Tuesday, I hit the jackpot. Rows of of glowing, Amish-grown Sungolds for $1 a piece. I bought six.

Cut in half, combined with sugar and lemon juice, and cooked until thick and sticky, this jam is gorgeously vivid in both looks and taste. To make things slightly more interesting, I stirred in a quarter cup of chopped basil at the very end of cooking. Tomatoes and basil do make such good partners.

If you can’t get Sungolds, you could swap in a different tomato. But I do think they give it a depth of sweetness and flavor that is pretty fabulous.

4.25 from 4 votes

Yellow Tomato and Basil Jam


  • 4 pounds Sungold or other yellow tomatoes
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • zest of two lemons divided
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped basil


  • Cut Sungold tomatoes in half, or, if using larger yellow tomatoes, chop them into smallish pieces.
  • Combine chopped tomatoes with sugar in a large, non-reactive pot and stir. Let sit for at least one hour, or until the tomatoes release their juice.
  • When ready to cook, prep canning pot and jars and place jam pot over high heat. Add lemon juice and bring to a boil.
  • Cook at a boil for 30-35, stirring frequently, until the tomatoes have softened and the syrup has gotten thick. Check set with plate test. Once you’re satisfied with the set, remove the pot from the heat and stir in half the lemon zest and chopped basil. Taste and add remaining lemon zest only if you feel the jam requires it.
  • Pour jam into prepared jars. Wipe rims, apply lids and rings. Process jars in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes.
  • When time is up, remove jars from pot and let them cool on a kitchen towel. When jars are cool enough to handle, remove rings and test seals. Place any unsealed jars in the refrigerator and use promptly. All sealed jars can be stored in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year.

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4.25 from 4 votes

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122 thoughts on "Yellow Tomato and Basil Jam"

  • Try asking your vendor for “seconds”. Every grower of cherry tomatoes deals with split tomatoes that are really not suitable for selling. This could be a win-win for both you and the farmer. Seconds make excellent jam and the farm will make a bit of money on a product that might just be bound for the compost pile.

  • I wish I’d waited to use my sweet golds for tomato jam until after this post! I thought they’d make a wonderful jam because they are so sweet – and it is yummy, but I think I would have liked this basil version better. Maybe I’ll get another 4 lbs before the plants die off to try again – I know for sure I overcooked the last batch. Thanks for posting this! (I might also do a small pan jam, like you posted about recently, with whatever sweet golds I do have…)

  • I noticed that you didn’t mention peeling your tomatoes for this recipe. Is it unnecessary when you make tomato jam? Thanks for the great website. I love all the canning ideas!!

  • Mmm, a yellow tomato jam! And the sungolds are perfect- and are about the only kind I can get to grow abundantly in Seattle. Hopefully I can pick enough near the same time!

  • I made this the last few years using yellow pear tomatoes and it’s great to have on hand during the cold winter months.

  • I’m excited to make this. I love the addition of basil! I just made your tomato jam yesterday and it turned out great-sweet and spicy and perfect for french fries, sweet potato fries, steak, etc. It’s one of my staples πŸ™‚

  • This sounds just delicious. I still haven’t tried canning a tomato jam yet, but this is one that is too tempting not to try! Thanks so much for sharing this recipe!

  • Now THIS is a recipe that is beckoning my name! Thank goodness the farmer’s market is tomorrow, I don’t know if I could wait much longer to try it out!

  • What a great use for sungolds. I grew so many one year, it’s taken me years to be able to eat them again. I have tons of cherry tomatoes that need a good home. I was worried they had too much sugar to be canned safely. Now I can make jam! Yay-thanks!

  • I have a dumb question – this sounds delicious but what are you serving it with? I’ve never heard of tomato jam before – what a great idea!!

    1. It’s both sweet and savory, so you could pair it with cheese or use it in place of ketchup. I’m imagining it as part of an array of nibbles for a party – toasted baguette rounds, a smear of this cheese and a bit of fresh mozzarella.

  • Well I made it with regular red tomatoes and I think it’s not doing well, still boiling away … but not getting thick … HELP!

    1. The tomatoes you used may have had far more water in them than the yellow tomatoes I used. You’ll have to cook it down far more in order to get a jammy consistency.

      1. I did and it is now beautifully canning in he water bath and tastes soooo good even my husband who is wary of new things loved it with cream cheese … we had a little left and got 2 pints out of 4 lbs tomatoes, will be making more thank you.

  • I messed up the recipe and added the zest and basil along with the lemon juice (before the cooking). Will it turn out okay? Smells yummy! I’ll definitely do another batch the right way if I can find more yellow tomatoes. I love, love, love your tomato jam recipe! We made several batches of it last year and just opened the last jar this week.

  • Can you tell us about how much zest 2 lemons should make? I tried making this recipe last weekend but ruined it by putting too much zest in it – it turned out way way too lemony. It was great until I put the zest & basil in. I guess we grow them big out here on the West Coast!

    I think the only thing it could possibly be good for is glaze for chicken. Oh well…

    1. Unfortunately, I can’t as I didn’t measure my zest. I just scraped it off the lemons and dropped it in. It might also be that by the time the lemons get out here to Pennsylvania, they aren’t quite as pungent as they are out your way. I’m so sorry that your jam didn’t turn out!

      1. I had the same thing happen with the zest – it overpowered everything and it tastes more like marmalade than tomatoes now. Curse those potent west coast lemons. πŸ˜›

        1. I’m adding a note to the recipe asking people to add the lemon zest in stages and taste as they go. I’m so bummed that there are a few of you who have been made unhappy by the lemon zest.

    2. I had the same thing happen. It was tasting so so good until I put in the zest.
      Yuck! Much too much lemon. The same thing happened when I made a blackberry jam from this site. Wish I had thought about that before I put in the zest.

  • Wow! Just put the jam in the bath & it is just amazing…can’t wait to break one open. Used a mix of Sun Sugar, Yellow Pear and Wapsipinicon Peach. Sadly, had to cook it 2-3 hours as we are almost at 7000 ft and only ended up w/2 pints. Maybe I’ll get enough yellow tomatoes yet to do another batch. Thanks for the wonderful recipe!

  • I made yellow tomato jam today, hoping for a bright, clean yellow color. As it cooked, it turned darker and darker, and it had the lemon juice in it. It’s the color of apricot jam. Then, at the very end, it started to scorch, and I pulled it off the stove and poured it through a strainer, it was the seeds that had started to brown. I added the zest and the chopped basil, but did not water-bath it. The the jam is flavorful and interesting, especially with the lemon zest. I’m not sure I like the look of the chopped basil in it, it looks a little dark, and you don’t expect a leaf in your jam, but the flavor is good and will be great on chicken.

  • I made this last night with a bunch of “seconds” from the farmers market (score!) while it was fairly runny after an hour of cooking, it tasted delicious and I went ahead and canned it. I ended up with 3 quarts-far more than your projected yield. I’m worried that it might not be acidic enough in each jar-I followed the recipe to the T but since my yield was higher I wonder if there is enough of the lemon juice in each jar? The ratio is the same but I wonder if I should just put them in my fridge now and eat it this week.

  • I’m making my second batch of this right now! I used half sungolds and half larger yellow tomatoes the first time, but then I received 6 pints of sungolds from my CSA (Joshua Farm in Harrisburg) and knew I had to make more. Luckily there are a few pints left over for me to munch on while I boil the rest down. Thanks for this recipe!

  • I just finished a batch of this with my Ildi grape tomatoes. Yikes- it went from runny to almost burnt quite quickly- I had been boiling it for about an hour and then all the sudden! Luckily it was more of a caramelized burnt that ‘burnt burnt’!

      1. I had a very similar experience! Very very very juicy tomatoes – and because I was keeping a real close eye on it, I caught it just as it was trying to scorch… Saved it! And it’s more than beautiful!! I used the last couple of tablespoons to make a vinaigrette that is rocking my socks right now!

  • I just made a batch with almost black heirloom tomatoes. It is an incredible color and tastes like summer. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

  • WOW!!! Just made this jam yesterday. Got a whole swack of yellow tomatoes saturday at our local harvest market. It turned out marvelous. We actually added extra zest and basil to taste….I guess each to their own, we were nibbling with some lovely brie as we were canning…. What a fantastic colour. Cant wait to use this at our next gathering, we were even thinking to whip some into a cream cheese mixture for a baked potato topping
    Thanks Marisa… been a bit of a lurker on this site for the whole summer, Have made lots of your recipes….my FAV right now is the apricot and rosemary jam…with blueberry butter…(done in my antique crockpot πŸ™‚ a close second.

  • I just made this. It is the second thing that I’ve canned ever. I can imagine using it with chicken, cheese plates, and hopefully mixed with something like capers on fish. Does anyone else have ideas for how they will use this?

    Could you reduce the sugar and it still be safe for canning?

  • Was so jazzed to find your recipe today. I was looking for a canning bruschetta recipe, and stumbled upon your site. I had been putting off harvesting my yellow pear tomatoes til I figured out what to do with them. So the early girls are still on the vine, and I ended up making your recipe today. I used 8 cups of the yellow pear tomatoes, and it yielded 5 half pints, plus enough to taste test with some toast, and brie. Loved it! I was really tempted to add some fresh thyme as well, but decided to stick with the plan the first time out. Thanks for the recipe! It’s a Keeper!

  • I made this today with Green Zebra tomatoes, as mine finally came on and I had four pounds extra laying around. I didn’t add the lemon zest as I didn’t have a lemon, just lemon juice, and it still turned out amazing. I’ll definitely be making it again (and again with lemon zest, to see the difference).

  • I’d love to get more recipes for tomato jams! How can I adapt canning recipes – or do you recommend a good place to find more tomato jam/preserve recipes? My garden is overflowing with tomatoes, I’d love to make different small batches with mixed flavors. Love this recipe, making it tomorrow!

  • Thank you for this. I just picked a huge bowl and was wondering what I was going to do with all of these Sungolds. Now I know!

  • Would love your opinion – I have a ton of yellow pear tomatoes and we just aren’t eating them fast enough. Would you suggest this recipe for them over your basic tomato jam? I would probably leave the basil out (don’t have any fresh on hand). Thanks!

    1. Just adding that I went for it and used this recipe, as the normal tomato jam recipe would have required me to make more modifications (or go shopping…). Made this without the basil – tried it on a few crackers before I put it in jars and it’s lovely. A bit too sweet for me (and I reduced the sugar by 1/2 cup), but as others suggested I think it will be divine on top of a nice salty cheese.

      I used 4 pounds of tomatoes – most of the 4 pounds was yellow pear, but there were a few red tomatoes in there including one black krim and a couple of heirloom brandywine – all very much on the small side as if they were cherry varieties. 2 1/2 cups sugar, 1/2 cup lemon juice, and the zest of 2 lemons. It took a little over an hour for mine to cook down.

      Looking forward to trying this next year with the basil as well as trying the tomato jam recipe. We always have TONS of yellow pear tomatoes and can’t eat them fast enough.

  • YUMMY!!! I’m so anxious to try this recipe. I’m growing yellow pear tomatoes for the first time this year and can’t wait till I get enough to try this canning recipe. I’ve already told my sweet neighbor about it and look forward to sharing a jar of it with her! Sounds wonderful……thank you!!!

  • Never made tomato jam before but, having read this column and trying out Marisa’s recipes many times for fruit goodies, and having a glut of Sungolds, I opted to try this recipe.

    WOW! Incredible. Beyond my expectations. With our without the basil, it’s wonderful stuff – I made both versions. And now, another batch!

    It’s amazing on a Ritz cracker (they did not pay me to say this and I received no compensation) with Phillie (same statement). Grin. Doling these out to people on the playa at Burningman would seriously be a treat …. maybe I will!

  • I’d love to try this with some Sungolds from our garden today, but I’d like to can them in 4oz. jars to give away as little samples. Can I do that? Anytime I read a recipe in the Ball Blue Book, I’m terrified by how staunch they are about not altering the recipe *at all*, as if you’ll poison your whole family if you switch so much as the jar size. πŸ™‚ I’m guessing that it would be okay to put them in 4oz. jars and process them for 10 minutes.

  • One person commented about possibly reducing the sugar amount? I too wonder about that before making my first batch. Will this effect the texture or safety in the canning process? Still a bit of a newbie with water bath canning. Made a few jams and wow…..heavy on the sugar so I would enjoy feedback if the sugar can be reduced by say 1 cup maybe? Anxious to hear feedback……thank you!!

  • Thank you Marisa! One more question if I may…..would using something like the Certo Fruit pectin made for canning be an OK substitute for the sugar?? I’m guessing “not” but wanted to ask in case. I tried a jam recipe just a few days ago….a blueberry cherry preserve and the amount of sugar called for really overpowered the flavor of the fruits – any suggestions?? Would like to find a way to can in a water-bath method and use less sugar. Newbie canner so I’d appreciate any suggestions……….and others too!
    Thank you, Marisa………….happy canning everyone! Lisa

    1. Lisa, conventional pectin doesn’t replace sugar. In fact, you often need to use more sugar in order to sufficiently activate those pectins. If you’re looking to make a lower sugar jam, look into low sugar pectins like Pomona’s Pectin.

  • Thanks Marisa – I really appreciate the advice. You’ve got a great site here – I just came across it a few months back and I’m enjoying it immensly! Happy Canning!

  • We just made a batch but added 3 seeded and finely chopped jalopena peppers.
    This really gives it a great kick. not overpowering. I can hardly wait to try it on
    a block of cream cheese with cracker this winter !

  • I have been looking for a recipe similar to what I remember my grandmother making (unfortunately she is not around for me to ask). This seems to be close to what I she might have done except for the basil. She wasn’t a fancy cook so she probably didn’t have any extras. I believe I will try the basil though. My question is: the lemon juice, is it juice from a fresh lemon or is the bottle brand “reallemon” ok to use?
    PS glad I found your site. I’m also going to look for an icicle pickle recipe.

  • Thanks for this recipe! I made my very first attempt at canning and decided to do this recipe as a base. I used 2 lbs. yellow Zima tomatoes and 2 lbs. red grape tomatoes. I used lime juice and herbs de provence. It yielded 5 half pints…plus a couple of teaspoons full to taste! I just heard 5 lids pop…Yay! Thanks again!

  • OMG! I just made your jam and it is beyond awesome!

    I made it with yellow tomatoes, fresh from the back yard (as well as the basil). I only had a pound of yellows this morning, so scaled down everything else, got 2 half-pints (one to keep, one to give away – well that was the plan before I tasted). Needed lots of willpower not to sit and eat the jam with a spoon! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!!

  • I used less sugar, and only had 3/4 of the tomatoes. I must have cooked it down far more than I was supposed to. I ended up with two half pints. It looks pretty though!

  • Amazing! First time I’ve ever had tomato jam and I am in love. Can’t wait to try your other tomato jam recipe. Thank you!

  • Thank you for this wonderful idea for our bumper crop of cherry tomatoes! Even grabbed some basil from the garden when I made it tonight πŸ™‚

  • Is it possible to skip the lemon zest altogether? I’m not a big fan of it in general (and I don’t have any lemons at home right now!) I’ve got loads of yellow pear tomatoes (I get numerous volunteers in my garden every year) and sungolds that I can’t wait to use in this recipe!

    1. You certainly can skip the lemon zest if you don’t like it. You shouldn’t skip the lemon juice though, as it is necessary for safety.

  • I am making this now, I have yellow cherry heirlooms and red ones so I mixed them to come up with enough from my garden. I plan to use it to add flavor to meats and to serve w creamcheese and crackers.

  • Poop – So i started chopping my tomatoes for this, and I’m stoked to make it, but I dont have a kitchen scale. Roughly how many cups of diced tomatoes are in this recipe? Or, if its easier, how should I divide this recipe up for 4 cups of diced tomatoes?

  • I have the exact same question as Jess, above. I looked for weeks for sungolds and finally found some at the farmers market yesterday. I also don’t have a scale to weigh them – need an idea for roughly how many cups….? Hoping to make it tomorrow.

    1. It has been more than a year since I made this jam, so I honestly have no idea exactly how many cups of chopped tomatoes it used. I’d say that it was approximately 9-10 cups chopped tomatoes.

    2. I needed a scale for other things – so I caved and got one this morning. 4 cups of romas (pretty dense, not much liquid) was about 1 and a half pounds.

  • I was so pleasently surprised by this recipe. Originaly it just sounded off (I’m slowly expanding my taste outside of the box for me) and I really had no desire to make tomato jam to put on bread, cheese, or even chicken.

    However, I have slightly over 3 lbs of large yellow tomatoes and small cherry tomatoes and decided to give it a whirl.

    OMG I wish I had more of this, more yellow tomatoes. This was so good, I had plans of Christmas presents but I don’t think it will last threw November.

    Thanks for always provider a wide range of recipes, it’s helping me expand my taste buds.

  • Fantastic! I will be thanking you all winter, as I open my jars of jam and am instantly transported to my tomato-and-basil-filled early September kitchen. I also reviewed this recipe on cookbooker, which you can see here. I just love your site – and your cookbook. Its made me dust off my old canning pot, and my 13-yr old daughter is enjoying learning the process.

  • Just made this today with heirloom tomatoes that were soft and juicy. Chopped them up and had German Greens, Great Whites, a couple of beef steak and a Purple Cherokee. Beautiful in the pot! Turned mostly red…. but oh so yummy!
    Thanks for a great recipe!

  • I made this over the weekend and it is fantastic! It reminded me of the jam one of my favorite market vendors sells that I can only buy in summer, and now I have some stashed away for the cold months πŸ™‚ I might need to make another batch just to make sure I have enough.

    Plus the little gold tomatoes are just so pretty.

  • Made this today and it’s great…I would say, though, that without knowing what Sungold Tomatoes are like, and how big they are, I probably didn’t chop my yellow tomatoes into small enough pieces. That said, they reduced nicely, so it’ll be a bit chunky but still delicious! Also, it took well over an hour for it to reduce.

    I added a Tbsp. of crushed pepper to give it a kick and left out the lemon zest. Five pounds of yellow tomatoes have me 6 half pints.

  • Love the Tomato Jam. It really is a hit with everyone I have served it. Now the growing season is over and I have an abundance of green tomatoes. Any reason that I cannot make the Tomato Jam recipe using green tomatoes?

  • I just made this with some yellow pear tomatoes from our garden… It is so delicious I was licking all the utensils. I’ve never had tomato jam before but we’ll have to make this every summer. Thanks!

  • This looks great and works with what I got from my CSA yesterday. Bit does the process time apply to the pint or half pint? Thanks.

      1. I’m really getting into canning and along the way I’m trying to understand the science behind it. Not to be a nudge, but why is it only 10 minutes when your “Amy’s” is for 20 minutes? Are yellow tomatoes more acidic than regular tomatoes? Or is it the difference between lemon and line juice? Thanks for your patience and tutelage.

        1. When Amy gave me her recipe for tomato jam, she indicated that it should be processed for 20 minutes. To my mind, that’s a conservative amount of time to process that jam, but since it was what the recipe called for, I went with it. Typically, acidic jams only need ten minutes in the canner. So, when I wrote a recipe for tomato jam, I went with a time that was more in keeping with the norm.

  • I had a bounty of yellow pear tomatoes – they are small, like cherry tomatoes but pear shaped and yellow. Oh, and also a bounty of basil! Came across this recipe and made 4 half pint jars of it and OMG it is delicious!!! I was worried my little yellow tomatoes would not be sweet enough but this jam rocks my world. Too bad I’m out of yellow tomatoes now πŸ˜‰ maybe more next year….

    PS I was unable to get the jam up to 220 degrees without uber scorching so I packed it in the jars after it reached 215 and it set up just fine.

  • Its been a while since this post, but I was wondering if this jam could be tried with vinegar instead of lemon juice… I want to use it as a glaze for chicken as suggested, but am thinking that white balsamic vinegar would add a nicer depth of flavor to the meat than lemon juice. But, might this cause problems in the canning? I know acid is important when canning tomatoes, but maybe the balsamic vinegar would still be okay?

    1. Unfortunately, you can’t swap vinegar in for the lemon juice in this recipe. The lemon juice is serving as an acid balancer in this recipe, and vinegar doesn’t have the same concentration of acid.

  • I do not have the canning pot, and I’m not a fan of canned jams/jellies; however, I do like freezer jams. Can this Yellow Tomato and Basil jam be frozen instead?

  • Can you sub red tomatoes for the yellow?
    I made the yellow tomato with paprika last year and loved it but now I have 5lbs of red canning tomatoes that I’m looking to use.

  • Would adding a bit of coriander and cumin be possible in this recipe? Also adding a bit of balsamic vinegar (not altering the amount of lemon juice of course, just additional). I am new to canning and can’t seem to find anything on whether or not spices can be added/changed without affecting ph. I made a different non-approved tomato jam recipe without realizing about the ph balance, so just to be safe I am going to throw it out, but this other recipe used these spices as well as balsamic (and cider) vinegar, and I think it was the addition of the spices alongside basil that made me like it so much. Yours is the first recipe for tomato jam with basil I have found and would love to add these other ingredients to it if that wouldn’t affect the ph. Sorry to comment so much later than when you originally posted the recipe! (BTW I made your blueberry butter recipe and oh my word, LOVE)

    1. As long as you keep the additions of coriander and cumin relatively small, it should be fine. And adding some additional vinegar is no problem either.

    1. You could try it, but I haven’t made it that way, so I make no promises as to the outcome. If you do go that route, use one-third less honey than sugar.

  • Marisa, overwhelmed by a huge sungold crop this year, I came to your site to see if you had any recipes. You are my hero! πŸ™‚ I just finished making a batch of this jam … and wow. wow. wow. It’s so good I’m going to make a second batch for gifts. Thank you for putting this one out there!

  • I know this is an old post, but will the basil discolor over time or will that lemon help it hold its color? Thanks for posting recipe and for your help!

    1. It totally discolors. But that always happens with cooked basil. It doesn’t impact the finished flavor.

      1. Thanks! Good to know, I still plan to make! Organic farm down the road has a ton of yellow tomatoes and fresh basil πŸ™‚

        On a side note, I’m making peach jam now and I had peaches in a bowl that had a little basil in it. My husband ate a peach and really liked it with the stray basil leaf. Any thoughts on peach jam w fresh basil?

  • So I don’t see in the recipe anything about blanching/peeling the tomatoes — how does that work with the peels . . . did I miss something? Thanks!

    1. This jam uses the tomatoes, peels and all. If a recipe doesn’t instruct you to peel the tomatoes, that means you don’t need to peel the tomatoes.

  • 2 stars
    I cook fresh *whole stem* basil with tomatoes, then pull it out. It will turn black in the jars if canned. When canning, it’s always best to use dried basil where basil is called for. If you want to use fresh basil, cut stem(s) from near the top, leaving the largest leaves for the plant, and cook with the other ingredients, then remove before canning. You get the flavor without the blackened leaves.

    I also add flavor: for every 4 cups of prepared tomatoes,
    add 1 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
    1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
    1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
    1/4 cup lemon juice (1/2 cup is not necessary, but if you want it more sour, that will work).

    The other concern I have is the timing. It takes about 1.5 hours to cook this amount of tomatoes and sugar down to a jam without pectin. So I’m not sure how that texture is going to work.

    1. All my tomato jams are made without additional pectin and take time to cook down. Did you actually try the recipe before leaving a low review score?

  • 5 stars
    Made this a couple of times this summer with both red and yellow cherry tomatoes depending on what we had on hand and it is incredible. A keeper! I have a small stash of jars in the basement to give out as holiday gifts later this year!

  • 5 stars
    This jam is delicious! I omitted the lemon zest based on the comments. I am going to make a batch without the basil for a sweet jam instead of savory. I appreciate the temperature tip as well as the plate test tip for a perfect set! I used Lemon Boy yellow tomatoes and they worked perfectly. The jam turns into a beautiful amber color and I look forward to enjoying it this winter! Delicious!!