Tomato Jam, a Southern Appalachian favorite, is a way to preserve the fresh tomato flavor of summer in a jar. Used as a condiment on sandwiches, slathered on biscuits, and even as an amazing addition to a cheeseboard, tomato jam will become a favorite for you too! Canning Week’s second recipe, this is one you must try. It is great for gift giving…if you can stand to give it away!
I’ve had tomato jam in a variety of preparations, all of which have been delicious. Some versions are almost marmalade-like, with chunks of tomato and spiced with cinnamon and cloves; others have been a clear tomato-red jelly, strained of seeds.
This is my favorite, rich with the flavor of tomato, studded with tomato seeds, and the natural tomato flavor enhanced with lemon, herbs and vinegar. This Tomato Jam, by comparison to many recipes, is very low in sugar. It is tart and slightly sweet, and perfect for just about everything. If you had to ask me how I love it best? How about slathered on a biscuit with some crisp bacon? Tomato, bacon, slightly sweet and salty? *thud*
Today’s recipe is the first of three tomato canning projects I’ll be sharing during Canning Week; three because I was inundated with tomatoes! Not only did I have my own tomatoes coming in from the Wee Kitchen Garden, but I was picking tomatoes from our friends’ garden while they were away on vacation.
As I said yesterday in my Dill Pickle Relish post, their garden is enormous! While I measure the Wee Kitchen Garden in inches, their garden is measured in yards. Think football field size (perhaps a slight exaggeration). It’s huge! And beautiful!
On their family farm, with stunning views, the garden is set on level ground in the shadow of the Foothills of the Smoky Mountains. Their garden is surrounded by electric fencing to keep the deer from munching their crops. There is a gourd house for the Martins set within its boundary; a rubber snake set atop the charging box for the fence to keep the birds from roosting and pooing there; there was even a bunny in the melon patch one day. It’s pastoral and lovely. But most amazing are the rows of gorgeous produce. Row after row after row!
They grow cucumbers, okra, corn, summer squash, string beans, cabbage, eggplant, asparagus, a variety of peppers, black-eyed peas, melons, and more tomatoes than you can shake a stick at sideways! I hope I even remember all of their crops!
When I go to the Wee Kitchen Garden to harvest, I can easily spend an hour and a half harvesting. But most of that time is spent talking to and petting the plants, pulling an errant weed, tying up the tomatoes (which are SO tall), and dreaming about where I might add a new garden section. I lollygag garden.
When I went to their garden, I spent an hour and a half harvesting. I mean, the entire time. I picked and picked and picked. The back-end of Margeaux (my darling little car) was packed to the gills with produce. While they were away, I picked that garden four different times. And the results were the same each time. I had more tomatoes than I’ve ever thought about! Our dining room table, which seats eight people, was covered with tomatoes! Three times! I was, literally, dreaming about processing tomatoes! They serious-business garden!
You won’t need quite that many tomatoes for this recipe. Just six pounds of red tomatoes, either from your garden or a farmer’s market, will result in 10 half pint jars of Tomato Jam. Because this jam is a low sugar recipe, I used Sure Jell Premium Pectin for less or no sugar recipes. It’s not as easy to find in stores, so here’s a link if you can’t find it near you:
Tomatoes are at their prime now. It’s time to make this jam! You won’t be sorry. And you’ll make it year after year!
p.s.: Interested in other canning projects? Check out my other canning posts here.
- 6 pounds red tomatoes, washed, cored and quartered
- Zest from 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- ¼ cup dry white wine
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning blend
- 2 - 1.75 ounce packages Sure Jell Premium Fruit Pectin (for less or no sugar recipes - in the pink box)
- 1½ cups granulated sugar
- In a large stockpot, over medium heat, add the tomato quarters.
- Allow to cook until the tomatoes are soft and the skins have slipped.
- In batches, run the tomatoes through a food mill or food strainer to remove the peels (I use the large milling disc for mine because I like seeds, if you prefer seedless, use the smallest milling disc) This will result in about 10 cups of tomato puree.
- Return the tomato puree to the stock pot, bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, pepper, vinegar, wine, herbs and pectin, stirring to dissolve pectin.
- Bring to a boil.
- Add the sugar, stirring to dissolve.
- Bring the mixture to a full rolling boil (this is a boil that continues as you stir) and boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
- Remove from heat and skim any foam.
- Ladle the hot jam into hot prepared jars, leaving ½ inch of head space.
- Wipe the rim of the jars with a sterilized cloth.
- Place the lid on the jars, add the bands and screw to finger tight.
- Place the jars in the boiling water canning pot, making sure the water level is at least an inch above the tops of the jars.
- Process for 10 minutes.
- Remove jars from the canning pot to a towel-lined surface, cool and store.
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