Quite pleased with my first batch of spicy tomato jam (I’m convinced I could have made another jar if I didn’t sample it so much), I still had about 4 pounds of tomatoes left over from my two bushel canning projects and craving for more. What I wasn’t up for was the 5 hour cooking, babysitting, tomato splattering all over my stove again. I was convinced there had to be some shortcut. Lots of people make tomato jam. Busy people. Sane people who don’t work all day then stay up canning until 2am (a fact I will not confirm or deny). So what was the secret?
I considered my other jamming experience and it hit me. Pectin! A true savior to canning, it helps jams and jelly gel quicker without having to reduce the yield significantly. I’ve made a number of berry jams both ways, with pectin for a quick cook or without and cooking the fruit down until it naturally jams, and don’t notice that much of a difference. Maybe my new tomato jam wouldn’t be as incredibly sticky, but at the very least, it was worth a try.
I came across Use Real Butter and found Jennie’s Tomato Jam Recipe. I very loosely adapted the recipe, keeping the spices similar but replacing the cider vinegar and apple with balsamic vinegar and pectin. I also added a hefty dose of lemon juice to cut the sweetness. I’m not 100% where the idea to add fresh basil came from. I saw it in passing on a few blogs and since my plant was ready for harvest (it never really recovered from the heat wave we had in July and since that has barely hung on), it was perfect. To make sure everything was fully combined I blended this jam until smooth before adding the pectin and processing.
Balsamic Tomato Jam (Loosely adapted from Use Real Butter) Makes 2 ½ cups
- 3 1/2 lbs tomatoes, coarsely chopped
- 3/4 c brown sugar
- 1/2 c balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 c bottled lemon juice
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp coriander
- 1/4 tsp cumin
- 1 tbsp red pepper flakes
- 1/2 c chopped fresh basil
- 1 tsp sugar
- 2 tsp pectin
Mix tomatoes, brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, salt, coriander, cumin and red pepper flakes in a 3 1/2 quart dutch oven. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook until reduced by half, about 30 minutes. Stir in basil. Continue to cook until reduces slightly, about 30 minutes longer. Puree with immersion blender until smooth.
In a small bowl mix sugar and pectin. Bring jam to a rapid boil, add pectin and stir until dissolved. Continue boiling jam for 2-3 minutes until reaches jelly point. Ladle jam into hot, sterile half-pint or 4oz jars leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Process jars in a boiling water bath for 25 min.
- Roasted garlic balsamic jelly (thepreservists.com)
- Spicy Tomato Jam (bklynlocavore.com)
- Balsamic Vinegar Chicken with Fresh Tomatoes (jayhawkmommy.com)
- The Point of Pectin: 5 Reasons to Add Pectin to Your Homemade Jam (thekitchn.com)
- Roasted Tomatoes and Fresh Mozzarella with Black Cherry Balsamic Vinegar (mylittleglutenfreegirl.com)