I’m not gonna lie. This year, gardening kind of sucked. With the really dry start and the hot as balls temperatures, things were REALLY slow going. Our corn turned out like feed corn and ended up being fed to the chickens – at least I’ll have free corn stalks to decorate the house with for fall. The single surviving zucchini plant only gave us ONE stinking zuke. The 4 yellow squash plants did a little better and gave us about 10 squash, which we ate sautéed as a side dish and I breaded and froze up a big batch so we can enjoy it in the winter months. Our pepper plants are loaded with peppers, but they just started getting crazy, and I’m not sure how many we’ll get from them before the frost hits. Basil was a total bust. The bugs attacked the leaves, making them look like an ugly green snowflake. Green onions are still growing like wild, but not yet big enough to harvest and eat. But tomatoes? Ya, we are rolling in those. I’ve got over 100lbs in the freezer (for sauce, ketchup and bruschetta) and am averaging about 1 gallon sized freezer bag ever other day – as long as I can harvest them before the chickens attack them. So you could say I have a plethora of tomatoes. I was feeling greedy and scared the garden wouldn’t give me enough tomatoes to make all the tomato goodness I had in mind, so I did go out and purchase a bushel of Roma’s from a local farm. Just in case. Because you never know. So, um, ya.
And with all 3 freezers having been stuffed to the gills with tomatoes, I needed to think of something to do with the 10lbs I had ripening on the counter. I could have made tomato butter, but we still had a jar left from the last batch I canned. So I decided upon tomato jam. Yes, you read that right – JAM. I don’t know why you’re so freaked out. Tomatoes after all are fruits. Except now it sounds weird calling it a fruit when you think about pasta sauce. And having one on a burger. And chili. Anyways….I had no idea what it tasted like and frankly, I didn’t care at this point. I just didn’t want those tomatoes to go to waste and with the busy weekend I had I couldn’t make anything that required much hands on time since I would be at home very little over the next two days, so tomato jam seemed like a great idea, and something I could put in the crock pot to cook down! Yay!
Once it was all said and done, this was pretty easy to do and the taste is really good. It’s like a sweet hot barbecue sauce. I think it’s less like a jam and more like a chutney but that could be because of how I used an immersion blender to break the tomato halves down. It will be great on chicken, fish, even on a ham as a glaze or dipping sauce. Pretty universal stuff!
As with canning any type of sauce, jam or chutney, your yield will vary. It depends upon the cook time, type of tomato used, how high the sun is in the sky (kidding!) so if you don’t get 10 + 2 jars worth or you get more, don’t fret. I could only fit 10 jam jars into the pot I was using, so I ended up filling two pint jars. One went into the fridge for me to use, the other went to my sister-in-law. And as a side note, this is GLUTEN FREE.
Adapted from Food in Jars
yield: 10 8oz jam jars plus 2 16oz pint jars
10 lbs Roma tomatoes, stem end trimmed off, cut in half
6 cups sugar
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 cup lime juice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
2 tablespoons red pepper flakes
Add your chopped tomatoes, sugar and salt to your crock pot. Using an immersion blender, pulse through the tomato halves to break them down some and get them nice and juicy. Stir to combine everything. Set your crock pot to low and place the lid on where it is slightly vented to allow the liquid to evaporate. Cooking times will vary depending upon how juicy your romas are or if you sub in a different type of tomato – I cooked mine for 18 hours. Once your tomatoes have reduced by half and are a nice, dark burgundy transfer them to a large stainless sauce pot. Add the lime juice, ginger and red pepper flakes. Cook for 15 minutes until hot and bubbling. If you desire a thicker consistency, cook until you reach that.
***While your jam is heating up, prep your mason jars, lids and water bath canner***
Once your jam reaches the desired consistency, remove from heat and fill your jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space. Wipe rims with a white vinegar dipped cloth, apply lids, and secure bands to finger tight. Process your jars in your boiling water batch canner for 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes, remove the jars from the water bath and allow them to cool for 24 hours. Test the seals – any jars that did not seal can be reprocessed or put in the fridge to use. Label jam and store in a cool dark place for up to 1 year.