Tomato Jam

Okay. Chef thought tomato jam sounded weird. Until I explained that it really was more of a cooked-down rel­ish or chut­ney. Then he was only slightly dubi­ous. When I gave him a bite of the fin­ished prod­uct, he pro­claimed: “That’s good. It would be good on a burger.” High praise indeed! He’s not a deliv­erer of false praise. Quite the oppo­site. He makes you work for your food compliments!

Peo­ple always ask me if it’s intim­i­dat­ing to cook for Chef. Hmmm.….not really. He has an appre­ci­a­tion for real, down home food like his mama used to make. But he also obvi­ously has a palate for finer food, which comes in real handy when I get in the mood to try new things.

I loved the name too much not to call this ‘Tomato Jam’. It’s unex­pected. And deli­cious. Just the right bal­ance of sweet, savory, and spicy. Use it in place of ketchup on any­thing. I rec­om­mend it highly as a meat­loaf accompaniment!

Tomato Jam

makes 1 1/2–2 cups, depend­ing on how far you cook it down

1 table­spoon olive oil or butter

1 cup sweet vidalia onion, chopped

1 medium-large jalapeno pepper–seeds and mem­branes removed from half of pepper

28 oz. peeled, seeded, and chopped tomatoes

1/2 cup cider vinegar

1/2  cup + 1 table­spoon brown sugar

1/8 tea­spoon allspice

1/8 tea­spoon thyme

1/8 tea­spoon black pepper

1/2 tea­spoon kosher salt

In a large, heavy saucepan on medium heat, heat the oil or but­ter. When hot, add the onion and pep­per. Saute, stir­ring con­stantly to pre­vent any burn­ing, until onion is soft­ened and translucent.

Add the toma­toes, and give them some chop­ping up. Bring to a low boil and add the cider vine­gar, brown sugar, spices, and salt and pep­per. Turn down to a sim­mer and cook, stir­ring occa­sion­ally, until jam has reached desired con­sis­tency. This will take any­where from 60–90 min­utes. Most of the runny liq­uid should be gone, leav­ing a thick, but not dry end result.

Store refrig­er­ated in a jar as you would a rel­ish. Use within 2–3 weeks.

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  1. So, a ques­tion or two about the toma­toes — what kind do you rec­om­mend? For my first try I’m going with roma, just because they’re so abun­dant right now. But regard­ing the 28 oz., is that the weight to get from the store, or the weight after seed­ing and peel­ing, or the mea­sur­ment in ounces in my big mea­sur­ing cup/bowl thingy? Help me out here! I want to get this right!

  2. And I don’t mean to pick nits, but what, exactly, do you mean by 1/2 + 1 table­spoon of brown sugar? Is that 1 1/2 table­spoons? Or is that sup­posed to be 1/2 cup + 1 table­spoon? I must know!

    • Ruth–I count on nit-picking to catch my mis­takes, so thank you! To answer both questions:

      Use any tomato you like. I used fresh, but devel­oped the recipe with a weight that cor­re­sponds to an easy to find canned weight. I peeled, seeded, and then chopped 28 oz weight worth of toma­toes. With Romas, you’d hardly need to seed, they are so fleshy. And it came to roughly 4 cups. A lit­tle more or less won’t make a huge dif­fer­ence, as it is cook­ing down so much.

      The recipe now says 1/2 cup + 1 table­spoon brown sugar, as it should have to begin with. Thank you for ask­ing for clar­i­fi­ca­tion! I don’t want our recipes to be hard to under­stand or execute!

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