Delicious Sweet & Savory Tomato Jam for Canning

This easy tomato jam recipe makes a sweet and savory spread that’s a good addition to a BLT or grilled cheese sandwich. 

Try my family’s favorite tomato chutney, too!

jars of tomato jam, one with lid off

If you’re full up with garden fresh tomatoes, think about trying a small batch of tomato jam! It’s a little unusual, with a sweet and savory flavor. It’s a fun flavor to share with people who might not have heard of this gem (hello, homemade gifts!).


The Handcrafted Pantry

Ready to DIY your pantry with healthier ingredients? Check out my ebook, The Handcrafted Pantry! Filled with delicious recipes for some of your favorite condiments, snacks, and toppings, it’s the guide you need to start skipping packaged products and embrace homemade.


Ingredients

Tomatoes – Start with tomatoes fresh off the vine for the best flavor; Roma tomatoes are great, but beefsteak varieties will work, too. Chop the tomatoes by hand aiming for a quarter-inch dice, or use your food processor and pulse the tomatoes to chop them.

Sugar – Use granulated sugar for this recipe. I prefer to use an organic cane sugar to avoid genetically modified ingredients, but your favorite brand will be just fine.

Lemon juice – USDA preserving recipes all call for using bottled lemon juice. This assures that the acidity level in recipes is safe for canning.

If you really want to use fresh lemon juice (I get it!) you’ll need to pull out your pH paper to test the acidity of those lemons. In order to properly acidify the tomatoes, the pH of the lemon juice should be at least 4.5. Do not use Meyer lemons, a cross between a lemon and an orange, for this, as their acidity is too low. 

There’s a great discussion about using bottled vs. fresh lemon juice for canning here

Pectin – This recipe is made using Pomona’s Universal Pectin. This is the only pectin I use anymore as it allows me to use much less sugar. The standard pectin brands use an obscene amount of sugar in my opinion, often requiring equal amounts of sugar and fruit! 

wedges of fresh tomato on a cutting board

How to prepare the tomatoes

While it’s not necessary to skin the tomatoes, you can if that’s your preference. Go here to learn how to peel tomatoes easily.

You will need to chop and crush the fruit, though. You can do this by hand, chopping the tomatoes into a quarter-inch dice and giving them a little squish. 

Or do as I did and pulse roughly chopped tomatoes in the food processor. 

tomatoes in a food processor, before and after processing

Canning the tomato jam recipe

If you’re new to home food preservation, be sure to read this for an understanding of canning equipment and how it works. 

Once the tomatoes are chopped and cooked, you’ll ladle the jam into jars. I have a canning funnel for this purpose, that makes it easier to transfer the jam into the jars without a lot of mess. 

3 quarter pint jars of tomato jam with no lids

Use a damp cloth to wipe the rim of each jar; a little bit of food on the jar rim can prevent the lids from sealing properly. Set the lids in place and screw the bands on firmly tight (but not too tight). Use a jar lifter to transfer jars into the gently boiling water. The water in the pot should cover the jars by about an inch. If necessary add more water to the canner.

Hot tip: Boil some extra water in a saucepan or electric kettle as you’re working. If you need to top off the water in the canner, you won’t cool down the water too much.

Process jars for the recommended time. (See below.) When time is up, use the jar lifter to transfer jars to a flat surface that’s padded with a kitchen towel. Allow jars to cool completely.

Once jars are thoroughly cooled, check the seal on all of the jars. The lid should be concave and solid. If it flexes at all, it’s not sealed. (Place any jars that didn’t seal in the refrigerator and use them first. They are not shelf stable.)
Remove bands from cooled jars and rinse the jars. Store jars without the bands.

Here’s a more detailed look at canning jam and jelly.

Canning Safety

Canning is an excellent way to preserve food for the pantry, but there are some important safety considerations to keep in mind. 

  • Know the difference between water bath canning and pressure canning. Low acid items must be pressure canned for safety. 
  • Altering ingredients may change the recipe’s pH, posing a safety issue. I highly recommend investing in pH paper to test your products for acidity level when canning. Note: The Hawaii Master Food Preservers suggest a pH of 4.2 or lower in the tropics. In other regions, the recommended pH is 4.6 or lower.
  • Use the proper jars and lids. Never reuse lids, with the exception of the Tattler lids that are intended for such a purpose.
  • For more on canning equipment, please go here
  • The recipes on this site have been made following safe canning procedures by a certified Master Food Preserver.
jars of tomato jam, one opened

★ Did you love this recipe? Be sure to give it a star rating below! ★

3 quarter pint jars of tomato jam with no lids

Easy Tomato Jam Recipe

Yield: 6 quarter-pint jars
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Processing Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes

This easy tomato jam recipe makes a sweet and savory spread that's a good addition to a BLT or grilled cheese sandwich. 

Ingredients

  • 2 cups tomatoes, chopped and crushed (about one pound)
  • 2 teaspoons calcium water
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice (bottled, see notes)
  • ½ cup up to 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Pomona’s Pectin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, freshly grated
  • pinch of nutmeg

Instructions

PREP AHEAD

  1. Prepare calcium water from Pomona pectin. Put 1/2 tsp calcium powder (the small package) and 1/2 cup water in a small jar with a lid. Shake well before using.
  2. Fill a canning pot with water, set the lid in place, and heat on high heat until just boiling while you're cooking the jam.

MAKING THE TOMATO JAM

  1. Combine crushed tomatoes, lemon juice, and calcium water in a saucepan.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine the sugar with 2 teaspoons pectin powder (the large envelope) until thoroughly combined.
  3. Bring tomatoes to a full boil. Add sweetener, stirring vigorously for a couple of minutes to dissolve the pectin. Once returned to a full boil, remove from heat and stir in spices.

CANNING THE JAM

  1. While the tomato jam is cooking, fill a canning pot with water, set the lid in place, and heat on high heat until boiling.
  2. Ladle hot jam into half-pint or quarter-ping jars, leaving 1/4" head space. A canning funnel makes this easy.
  3. Wipe jar rims to remove any jam that may have spilled. A clean rim is essential to a good seal.
  4. Set jar lids in place. Screw bands on finger tight, firmly, but don't crank the rings on.
  5. Use a jar lifter to gently submerge jars into boiling water in canning pot. Water should cover the top of the jars by an inch. The water will cool somewhat in reaction to the addition of the jars. Return the water to a low boil and set the timer.
  6. Process for 10 minutes; add one minute of processing time for every 1,000' rise in elevation. Allow jars to cool overnight.
  7. Check for seal: the lids should feel solid and slightly indented. If they flex, they are not shelf stable and should be refrigerated and used first.
  8. Wash jars, remove rings, and store in a cool, dry place for up to a year.

Notes

USDA preserving recipes all call for using bottled lemon juice. This assures that the acidity level in recipes is safe for canning.

If you really want to use fresh lemon juice (I get it!) you’ll need to pull out your pH paper to test the acidity of those lemons. In order to properly acidify the tomatoes, the pH of the lemon juice should be at least 4.5. Do not use Meyer lemons, a cross between a lemon and an orange, for this, as their acidity is too low. 

Recipe adapted from Pomona's Pectin.

Did you make this recipe?

Share an image on Instagram and tag @attainablesustainable with #attainablesustainable!

Click to save or share!

0 comments… add one

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Skip to Recipe