Turn your summer tomatoes into an easy, sweet-and-savory tomato jam perfect for marinades, dips, and toast. You need sugar for the kind of gooey, sticky quality we associate with jam; otherwise, all you’re producing is a tomato sauce. You need an acid such as balsamic vinegar or lime juice to cut the sweet.
Unlike most conventional jams, tomato jam requires no added pectin and instead of boiling it to a hard 220 degrees, tomatoes and sugar make their way to jammy goodness through a long, slow simmer. As the liquid cooks away, a thick, sweet and sticky consistency develops that works well with dishes both savory or sweet.
This unusual summer fare adds bright flavor to all that it touches. Try tomato jam on a BLT, turkey, or grilled cheddar cheese sandwich. It also makes a lovely accompaniment to grilled fish or a condiment for burgers. Tomato jam can be served on crusty bread, paired with cheese and crackers or used to glaze poultry. With a lot of sweet, a little heat and boundless tomato flavor, this beautiful jam belongs on the table no matter what’s for dinner.
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 pounds fresh tomatoes, chopped (I used Roma tomatoes)
1 large sweet onion, diced (I used Walla Walla Sweet)
1-1/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon sea salt (I used lime sea salt)
2 bay leaves
Heat the olive oil in a large, non-reactive pan over medium heat. Add the onion and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook until onions are soft, about 10 minutes. You’re not trying to brown the onion, just get them on the way caramelizing.
Pour in a couple tablespoons of water to loosen any bits on the bottom of the pan and add tomatoes (use any variety you like, just make sure they are fresh), balsamic vinegar, salt, and sugar. Stir. Add the bay leaves and gently stir.
Cook to a simmer. Turn the heat down to low and let it cook for an hour or two. The jam is done when it is thick and syrupy.
Remove from heat and let cool, the jam will continue to thicken as it cools. Store in glass jars in the fridge up to one month.
Replace the balsamic vinegar with white balsamic, apple cider vinegar, lime juice, lemon juice or red wine vinegar. Replace the bay leaves with a mixture of freshly grated ginger, cinnamon, ground cloves, and red chili flakes. Replace the sweet white onion with a red onion. Replace the white sugar with dark brown sugar (cut the amount in half).
*The finished yield on this recipe varies depending on the kind of tomato you use, the width of your pan and the finished thickness to which you cook it.
**In my kitchen, the word simmer means to cook just below a boil. There should still be a few bubbles, but it shouldn’t be splashing all over your cooktop. If you cook at lower temperatures, the cooking time will increase.