Tomato Jam

I’ve always liked ketchup, but I’m not sure I’m going to eat it ever again now that I’ve discovered tomato jam.

Let me back up.

June is jam month for the Food in Jars Mastery Challenge that I’ve been taking part in since January and so I decided to go to the farmer’s market yesterday and see what I could find. I’m sure I have been missing some obvious sales around these parts but I haven’t seen fresh local strawberries at all and it’s supposed to be strawberry season…although I haven’t sought them out either. So I wasn’t sure I was going to make something with strawberries and something with rhubarb (also in season right now, or just ending) just wasn’t piquing my interest.

I had been re-reading Marisa’s Food in Jars book in preparation to make jam this weekend and her Amy’s Tomato Jam was niggling around in the back of my mind. I have never had tomato jam and it both sounded sort of weird and sort of interesting. I didn’t know that I would make it though, I just thought that I would go to the market and see what was to be seen.

There weren’t too many produce vendors at the Goldstream Farmer’s Market in general, and a couple were selling only greens, but one booth had solely tomatoes and so my making of tomato jam was confirmed.

I took home some of these greenhouse-bred lovelies: I gathered them up in a homemade shopping bag that my friend Donna made me and carried them home. (It was only later that I realized I was charged too much for them! Grr, should have used my mental math to check her numbers, which I often do.)

At any rate, after a bunch of fine-dice chopping and adding in the other ingredients back at home, my low, wide pan looked like this:And then after I stirred them together and initially turned on the heat they looked like this: Now here’s where things got a little interesting. The recipe had said that the cooking time would be 1.5 to 2 hours but I got a little confused about the “simmer” and thought I’d leave the lid on for a good chunk of that time. I’m not sure why I’ve learned this lesson a little too late in my cooking career but I eventually realized that the mixture wasn’t cooking down because the liquid was staying in the pan and not escaping – because I’d left the lid on. It took me about three hours of simmering to get the jam to a nice jammy consistency. (OK lesson learned!)I didn’t taste the mixture until right near the end. When I did, I wanted to (and maybe did?) exclaim with glee. It is amazing! I’ve never tasted anything like it. I tried one spoon and then, admittedly, washed it and tried another spoon. So, so good. I later had some on BBQ chicken that I had in the fridge and it was amazing.

After processing it (a long time, this recipe said 20 minutes), I ended up with five full jars even though the recipe said four. More for me! I’m so enthralled with this new-to-me jam, I think it’s going to be a staple in my kitchen for years to come.I can’t wait to try this tomato jam on burgers, hot dogs, or anyplace else where I might normally have ketchup…and then some.

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