Tomato Jam

By Ann Fulton

Easy-to-make tomato jam is savory and tangy with a hint of spicy sweetness. An ideal way to use a bumper crop of tomatoes, the rustic jam is a delightful alternative to ketchup on a burger or chutney on grilled chicken, fish, or pork.
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Easy-to-make tomato jam is savory and tangy with a hint of spicy sweetness. An ideal way to use a bumper crop of tomatoes, the rustic jam offers a delightful alternative to ketchup on a burger or sauce on chicken, fish, and pork.

 

If you’re envisioning a peanut butter and tomato jam sandwich and thinking you’ll take a pass, stay with me. (Now I’m actually wondering what that would taste like. 🤣)

This easy-to-make condiment is savory and tangy with a hint of spicy sweetness. It’s altogether different than traditional fruit jams and has the power to take the most basic fare to new heights. 

The vibrant jam is an ideal way to use a bumper crop of tomatoes, and among other uses, my family adores the jam as a ketchup alternative.

Tomato jam provides an instant upgrade to turkey and beef burgers. Add blue cheese (or sharp cheddar, gruyere, or smoked Gouda) and bacon for a home run! From speedy weeknight dinners to big backyard barbecues, your burgers will receive rave reviews. 

The rustic jam can also be enjoyed as a dip, savory toast spread, or as a sauce on grilled chicken, fish, or pork.

Think of tomato jam as the best combination of salsa, ketchup, and chutney, and feel free to use this tomato jam on any food you typically top with those condiments. 

As a bonus, the aroma while simmering is divine. And aside from the fresh tomatoes, the ingredients are pantry staples. 

Easy-to-make tomato jam is savory and tangy with a hint of spicy sweetness. An ideal way to use a bumper crop of tomatoes, the rustic jam is a delightful alternative to ketchup on a burger or chutney on grilled chicken, fish, or pork.

This recipe has less sugar than most tomato jams, and the less sweet flavor profile makes it more versatile and, dare I say, more widely enjoyed. 

Easy-to-make tomato jam is savory and tangy with a hint of spicy sweetness. An ideal way to use a bumper crop of tomatoes, the rustic jam is a delightful alternative to ketchup on a burger or chutney on grilled chicken, fish, or pork.

Because of their lower moisture content and fewer seeds, plum or Roma tomatoes are preferred over slicing tomatoes in this recipe. I have mixed in cherry and grape tomatoes, which work well too.

Easy-to-make tomato jam is savory and tangy with a hint of spicy sweetness. An ideal way to use a bumper crop of tomatoes, the rustic jam is a delightful alternative to ketchup on a burger or chutney on grilled chicken, fish, or pork.

Once the tomatoes release their juices, the jam will look quite watery. Keep simmering…

Easy-to-make tomato jam is savory and tangy with a hint of spicy sweetness. An ideal way to use a bumper crop of tomatoes, the rustic jam is a delightful alternative to ketchup on a burger or chutney on grilled chicken, fish, or pork.

You’ll know the jam is the proper consistency when a wooden spoon dragged over the bottom of the pot doesn’t fill in with juice.

Easy-to-make tomato jam is savory and tangy with a hint of spicy sweetness. An ideal way to use a bumper crop of tomatoes, the rustic jam is a delightful alternative to ketchup on a burger or chutney on grilled chicken, fish, or pork.

If you’re not familiar with tomato jam and unsure about trying, think of it as fancy ketchup or a chutney. If you’re the kind of person who enjoys ketchup on everything, you’ll love this. But even if you use ketchup infrequently, chances are you’ll find many meals that are enhanced by the nuanced flavor of this jam.

More ways to enjoy tomato jam:

  • As the tomato part of a BLT
  • On blue cheese or cheddar and bacon burgers (turkey or beef)
  • As the tomato topping for bruschetta
  • On a charcuterie board to spread on crackers with cheese (from goat cheese to a variety of hard cheeses)
  • As a salsa/chutney on chicken, fish, pork, and beyond
  • A classic 1970s appetizer would be to serve this jam over a block of softened cream cheese alongside crackers
  • An updated variation is to spread a soft cheese with a little tang (like goat) on bruschetta and top with the jam
  • And recently, I spread a bit of the jam on quinoa and black bean tortilla chips from Trader Joe’s (they are mild tasting with an underlying hint of nuttiness) and topped with crumbled feta, and it was a delicious pre-dinner nibble. You could absolutely do the same with pita chips or your favorite cracker.
Easy-to-make tomato jam is savory and tangy with a hint of spicy sweetness. An ideal way to use a bumper crop of tomatoes, the rustic jam is a delightful alternative to ketchup on a burger or chutney on grilled chicken, fish, or pork.

A fun nutrition fact from our dietitian Emily:
Tomatoes are an excellent source of Vitamin C. While this is beneficial on its own, eating Vitamin C-rich foods along with iron-containing foods can aid in the absorption of iron during digestion. For example, enjoying this tomato jam with your burger will increase iron absorption from the meat. This can be helpful to know if you are looking for dietary ways to increase your iron levels, and is especially valuable when cooking with vegetarian sources of iron like spinach!

For those who are curious…
The reason we don’t list nutritional breakdowns next to each recipe is because the numbers can change significantly depending on brands people buy and how exact the measuring is. In saying that, if you email me separately, I can provide you with my best estimations on the nutrients you would like to know more about in this recipe. I’m happy to help! 

Tomato Jam
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes (including optional canning time)
Total Time: 55 minutes
Yield: ~2 cups
Easy-to-make tomato jam is sweet, savory, tangy and just a little spicy. An ideal way to use a bumper crop of tomatoes, the rustic jam can be enjoyed as a dip or spread and is a delightful alternative to ketchup on a burger or chutney on grilled chicken, fish, or pork.
Ingredients
  • 2 to 2¼ pounds ripe plum or Roma tomatoes, cored and coarsely chopped*
  • ½ cup (100g) packed light brown sugar**
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) apple cider vinegar (plus an extra ½ -2 teaspoons at the end; lemon juice is a nice option to finish)
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger (may use 1 tablespoon for more pronounced ginger flavor; my preference is the subtler flavor of 2 level teaspoons)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon each smoked paprika, garlic powder and cayenne pepper (use ⅛ teaspoon cayenne for flavor with no heat—¼ teaspoon provides subtle heat)
Instructions

Place all the ingredients in a heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch Oven and bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently to prevent the bottom from burning. (Tip: I like the width of the base of my Dutch oven. A narrower base will need to cook longer to reduce and vice-versa.)

Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has thickened to the consistency of jam, about 30-40 minutes, depending on precise level of heat, juiciness of tomatoes, and width of pot. (Helpful hint: A wooden spoon dragged over the bottom of the pot should not fill in with juice.)

Taste the jam. If it’s too sweet for your liking (we’re going for fancy ketchup here) add an extra dash of the vinegar (or lemon juice) and cook another minute. Start with ½ teaspoon and add to taste. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Transfer the jam to an airtight container or jar and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. The jam freezes well for 3 to 6 months.

Canning the jam: After packing in clean canning jars, the hot jam may be processed in a hot water bath. Once a rolling boil is achieved, set a timer, and boil 4-ounce jars for 5 minutes and 8- to 16-ounce jars for 10 minutes. (Make altitude adjustments as needed. Click link below for a quick reference.)

Notes

*Varying the tomatoes: Large slicing and heirloom tomatoes are not as desirable for this recipe, as they have a higher moisture content. I’ve mixed in some cherry and grape tomatoes with good results—they do tend to have more natural sweetness (as well as a higher skin-to-pulp ratio), so you may wish to add an extra teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice at the end to balance the flavors. There is no need to peel the tomatoes, but if you would like a smoother jam, you may do so—in this case avoid using small cherry and grape tomatoes. Alternatively, you could purée the jam once done.

**Varying the amount of sugar: I have run side-by-side taste tests with this jam made with a variety of sugar levels and a range of ½ to ⅔ cup has been most popular. My family prefers the lesser amount, but when using tomatoes that aren’t at their peak, I add an extra packed tablespoon of brown sugar. I recommend choosing the higher or lower amount based on sweetness preference, realizing that the difference is more apparent when tasted off a spoon but less so when enjoyed, for example, on a burger. I have reduced the sugar to ⅓ cup but did not think the flavor with this amount was well balanced.

You may double the batch. Note that the jam will likely take longer to reduce.

Spice option #2: For a slightly different, warmer flavor profile, use ¼ teaspoon ground cumin (instead of ½ teaspoon) and omit the smoked paprika. Keep the garlic powder and cayenne pepper at ¼ teaspoon and add ⅛ teaspoon cinnamon and a pinch (1/16 teaspoon) ground cloves.

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