Summer Tomato Jam bottles up the all the delicious flavor of ripe summer tomatoes so you can enjoy it year-round.
Do you remember the recipe that made you fall in love with cooking? When my friend Colleen asked me that question, it took me about two seconds to answer. This tomato jam, from The Little House Cookbook, is the first truly spectacular thing I ever made.
I still remember the day my mom and I made it. It was the summer before I started fourth grade and it was probably right around this time of year, when our garden was giving us more tomatoes than we could eat. We picked some tomatoes that were still green and fried them, then we preserved some of the ripest ones by making tomato jam.
I gave a jar of it to my teacher for Christmas that winter. When we came back from break, she told the entire class how amazing it was and how she had already finished the whole jar. Being the super shy kid that I was, I was humiliated. When she pointed out that my face was turning the same color as the jam I wanted to crawl under my desk and disappear.
I won’t lie – I might have cried.
But secretly, I loved that she loved it. I already loved to cook, but that was the moment when I fell in love with cooking for other people. Making something that would make them smile. Or something that would remind them of summer in the middle of a very, very long winter.
Tomatoes probably aren’t the first thing that come to mind when you think about jam, but they work beautifully. It’s sticky and sweet, with a super concentrated tomato flavor. And no, it doesn’t taste a thing like ketchup. It has all of the bright summer tomato flavor that tomatoes you can buy in the winter lack.
Once you taste it, you’ll find a million ways to use this jam. I love it on crackers (with or without a little goat cheese), spread on a grilled cheese sandwich (try it mozzarella and pesto for a wintertime caprese), on burgers. Mixed with a little cumin, it also makes a fantastic chutney-like accompaniment to chicken breast or fish.
Summer Tomato Jam
If canning makes you nervous, you can also keep this jam in the refrigerator (or freeze it for long term storage).
- 2 pounds ripe tomatoes
- 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
- 1 lemon, zested and juiced
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger (I like roasted ground ginger)
- 4 half-pint jars, sterilized
- Add the tomatoes to a blender or food processor. Pulse several times to crush the tomatoes.
- Transfer the tomato puree to a medium skillet set over medium heat. Stir in the brown sugar, lemon zest and juice, and ground ginger. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture is thick and jammy – this will take about an hour. (To test, dip a cool, metal spoon into the jam. It should slide of the spoon in a thick sheet – not in watery droplets.)
- Ladle the jam into the jars. Store in the refrigerator. Alternately, wipe the rims and seal in a hot water bath for 20 minutes. The jam is delicious right away, but tastes even better after a few weeks.