Tomato Jam

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Ever made tomato jam?! With farmers' markets and gardens overflowing with ripe tomatoes, now's the time! This chunky, jammy spread is a great addition to sandwiches or burgers, or spread it on crostini for an appetizer!

Photography Credit: Sheryl Julian

Although I’ve never met a sauce—or a jam, for that matter—that I didn’t like, I truly love this tomato jam!

WHAT IS TOMATO JAM?

Tomato jam is a thick, savory, textured spread that’s flavored with toasted cumin and mustard seed. It’s slightly sweet and earthy tasting.

This spread is not chunky like a chutney, nor is it smooth like ketchup. It lies somewhere between the two to create a sauce worthy of almost any dish, but works especially well with sandwiches and burgers.

Savory Tomato Jam cook down the jam

What Kinds of Tomatoes Make the Best Jam?

I prefer to use plum tomatoes, such as Romas, when making this jam for the same reasons they are so loved for making homemade tomato sauce:

  • The walls of the fruit are thick, and that provides a higher flesh-to-seed ratio. Fewer seeds make them easier and faster to remove. No one wants tomato seeds in their jam.
  • Also, plum tomatoes don’t have as much water in them, which means less time is needed to reduce the jam.

Essentially, you get more for your jam-making buck.

Ways to Use Your Tomato Jam

Tomato jam is wonderful on burgers, but also as a spread on turkey or grilled cheese sandwiches. Use it to dress up weeknight chicken or spoon it over eggs in the morning.

It’s also great on top of crostini with goat cheese and served as an appetizer during the holidays!

A jammy sauce like this can take any dish from bland to bodacious. We are at the height of tomato season and it’s time to put those bad boys to work.

Can Tomato Jam be Canned?

When it comes to tomatoes, I tend to freeze rather than can them. Feel free to double or triple the batch and freeze it in one cup portions to use as necessary. It should keep in the freezer for up to three months.

More Sauces and Toppings to Try

Tomato Jam Recipe

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  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: About 2 cups, or 16 servings

You can serve this jam warm or cold. It’s entirely up to you. I prefer to use a thick-fleshed tomato such as Roma, but any tomato will do.

You should be able to find mustard seed in the spice aisle of your local grocery store. Do not substitute mustard for mustard seed.

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 pounds Roma tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Method

1 Toast the spice seeds: Toast the cumin and mustard seeds in medium-sized dry skillet over medium heat. Shake the pan occasionally until the seeds become aromatic and begin to crackle and pop, about 6 minutes.

How to Make Tomato Jam toast the seeds

2 Cook the onions and garlic: Add olive oil to the skillet with the spices. After 1 minute, add the onions, garlic, and paprika. Sauté onions for about 10 minutes. They should look soft, oily, and red.

Add red wine vinegar and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Stir occasionally.

How to Make Tomato Jam cook the onions and garlic

3 Pulse the tomatoes and onions: Core, halve, and de-seed the tomatoes. Put the tomatoes and the onion spice mixture into a food processor and pulse about 10 times.

You want the finished product to be combined, look uniform in shape, but still have a little texture. You don’t want to pulse it so much that it’s smooth like a sauce.

4 Cook the jam: Add the tomato and onion mixture to the skillet along with the brown sugar, salt, and pepper. Cook over medium heat until almost all of the liquid has evaporated and the mixture is thick and jammy. This should take about 15 minutes.

Tomato Onion Jam cook the jam mixture Savory Tomato Jam cook down the jam

5 Serve or store: Serve immediately or transfer to a lidded container and store in the refrigerator for 1 week. Can be served warm or cold. The jam can also be frozen for up to three months.

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Summer Miller

Summer Miller is an Associate Editor for Simply Recipes based in Nebraska. Her work has appeared in Bon Appetit, Eating Well, Grit, SAVEUR, and Every Day with Rachael Ray, among others. Her first book is New Prairie Kitchen (Agate Publishing, 2015).

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