Tomato jam? Yes, you did read that correct. This spicy tomato jam that I discovered and made for the Food in Jars July Mastery Challenge: Hot Pack. I have since decided I will make this jam every year.
This spicy tomato jam is exceptional spread thick on a chargrilled burger. The spicy sweetness counters the pungent charred flavor of the meat. Vegan? Veggie burgers benefit just the same. Slathered it on a crusty challah bun to give a pop of umami to the deep and smoky black bean burger.
I have enjoyed the unctuous texture and sweetly sublime flavor spread on crackers with fresh goat cheese. Ever seeking an easy appetizer? Spoon a jar of spicy tomato jam over cream cheese. Speaking of cheese, grilled cheese would get along nicely with tomato jam spread within the bread. Tomato jam also makes a beautiful glaze on roasted chicken thighs and is a delicious ketchup substitute with fries.
The history of tomato jam was a strange one to research. Being a new world crop, it seems to have taken off in early America but also showed up in late 19th century British cuisine. In addition, it appears anecdotally in Italian and South African cuisine, most likely due to both the Columbian Exchange and European colonization respectively. Specifically, Sicilian tomato jam seems to be a popular recipe.
The Tomato in America: Early History, Culture and Cookery has tomato jam showing up as early as 1843 in The Boston Cultivator. The recipe entailed pushing tomatoes through a seive, adding their same weight in sugar and then cooking away until they reach a jammy consistency. Recipes for tomato jelly turned up even earlier in 1840 in The American Farmer and “A coorespondant in Pennsylvania’s Northumberland Public Aspect noticed a new kind of tomato preserve prepared by the landlady at Mr. Pardoe’s Inn and noticed its flavor was ‘remarkably rich and fine’.” A really interesting primary source was found from Britian as well. In the Jan. 7th, 1899 issue of Country Life Illustrated, a sauce of pan juices, flour, water, tomato jam (or red currant jelly) and red wine is used as a delicious meat sauce for “tough” meats. Pretty forward for the times? Or are we starting to look back? So to say the idea of tomato jam is new would be a fallacy. It has been around!
Have I sold you on spicy tomato jam? If so, I hope to show you it is quite simple to make. It uses the hot packing method of water bath canning. This simply means heating up the contents before ladling them into the jar and processing. This July I have hot packed Asian Gingered Carrots and Pickled Jalapeno Peppers & Carrots from a great book called Not Your Momma’s Canning Book: Modern Canned Goods and What to Make With Them along with three other fruit jams. This one is a slight adaptation from Food in Jars with complete respect to her proportions and safety testing. I trust Marisa implicitly.
- 5 pounds mixed heirloom tomatoes, finely chopped
- 3 1/4 cups sugar
- 8 tablespoons lime juice
- 2 teaspoons grated ginger, fresh
- 1 teaspoon allspice
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon red chili flakes
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- Combine all the ingredients in a large, non-reactive pot. Bring to a boil and then reduce temperature to a nice simmer. Stir the jam until it reduces to a thick consistency that clings to the spoon when lifted. This will take between 1 and 1 1/2 hours, depending on how high you keep your heat and how thick you want your jam.
- Remove from heat and fill jars using a wide mouth funnel, leaving 1/4 inch of head space. Wipe rims, apply lids and twist on rings. Process the jars in a boiling water canner for 20 minutes. When time is up, remove jars from water bath and allow them to cool. When 24 hours has passed, test seals. If any are loose, store in refrigerator and use in the next few weeks. Jam should keep up to a year, stored in a cool, dry place.
If you would like more info on the early history of preserves, check out my earlier marmelade post.