Tomato Jam

A while back on Squirrel Squad, Paul wrote about some tomato jam that I put together. As we’re getting ready for the farmers markets to open, we’re already thinking about the things that we’ll store away for later, and tomato jam has definitely made the list.

I had seen tomato jam at Jones Orchard before. It looked interesting, but I never quite got up the nerve to give it a try. I’m one of those people who likes my tomato sauces to be much more zesty than sweet, so the thought of sweet and tomato together just sat weird with me. Then I came across this recipe in The New York Times.

It was the spices that sucked me in. And they make this jam something really extraordinary. You get a nice sweet and sour kick with a very comforting blend of spices. Then the heat kicks in. I made two separate batches – one mild and one hot. The mild was nice; I used a fresh red pepper from the market that gave a good kick without being too crazy. Then there was the hot one.

I will confess that I love the combination of sweet and hot (probably a call back to my childhood love of Red Hots). This recipe gave me the opportunity to play with that along with some help from the Sparkling River Pepper Company people who set up shop at the Memphis Farmers Market last summer. I used one of their smoked Joe E. Parker peppers and then I added a whole Thai hottest-pepper-in-the-world pepper. I strained out the killer pepper after the jam was cooked, but it really left its mark. It was just beautiful.

So what do you do with tomato jam? It’s not exactly your typical jam for a PBJ sandwich, but it’s wonderful on fresh buttermilk biscuits or cornbread, with goat cheese on crackers, spooned over pork chops or grilled chicken, spread along cheese straws, etc.

So get some tomatoes growing or find a source for summer, because it will be time to get this going before you know it.

Tomato Jam


  • 1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes cored and chopped -- The New York Times recipe recommends Roma tomatoes for this jam. Other varieties will work as well, but juicier tomato varieties will increase the cooking time. You can make a rainbow of jams using heirloom varieties of tomatoes with just a little more patience while cooking.
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger minced
  • 2 teaspoons cumin toasted and ground -- If you toast cumin seeds before grinding them, you add complexity and increased flavor. Just toss them for a few minutes in a hot skillet until the aroma makes your stomach growl.
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon ground
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice ground
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves ground
  • 1 pepper seeded and minced, or ground if dried


  • Combine all the ingredients in a large heavy pot and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.
  • Continue boiling for 30 minutes.
  • Remove the mixture from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Refrigerate overnight.
  • Return the mixture to a boil over medium heat.
  • Continue boiling and stirring until the mixture reaches the desired consistency, approximately 1 hour. To test, spoon a drop onto a cool plate. Tilt the plate to see how runny the cooled mixture will be.
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