This sweet spread is an easy way to enjoy summer’s tomato harvest long after the season has ended. Add it to a charcuterie board for a gourmet touch, or gift a jar to your favorite epicure.
I first tasted cherry tomato jam many years ago at a local brasserie, where they served it alongside grilled calamari and an array of house cured meats on a charcuterie board. What a revelation! It was so wonderfully sweet and summery, and its flavor harmonized with everything on my plate. Each time I dined there I made sure to order something that had tomato jam as an accompaniment.
This year I planted cherry tomatoes in my little 6′ x 11′ garden outside the workshop with designs to replicate my favorite tomato jam. And boy, did I ever have a bumper crop!
The variety of cherry tomato I planted is called “Sweet Millions”. I’ve planted “Sweet 100s” before, which yielded a good crop of tomatoes, but I’ve never seen anything like the grape-like clusters on the Sweet Millions plant. I counted about 32 tomatoes on just one cluster!
If anyone is interested in growing this variety next year, I purchased my live plant from Grow Joy, . Back in March when I was planning my garden, I wasn’t doing any shopping at local nurseries or home and garden centers, so I was happy to find a company that would ship live plants. They have some unusual offerings that aren’t available to me locally, and a unique way of packing the plants so they don’t get damaged.
My best friend also loves the brasserie’s tomato jam, and so together we worked to get the closest flavor approximation. Lots of tomato jam recipes add strong spices such as cloves or they incorporate hot peppers. This is not our jam. The jam we know and love has unadulterated sweet tomato flavor, so our recipe has very few ingredients – but each one is important!
A note about canning jars – I can’t find any at the grocery store right now! This makes me think eeeeverybody is currently canning their summer harvest. Luckily I had some jars squirreled away from last year, but if you’re coming up empty handed, then consider upcycling. Used jam jars and pasta sauce jars with screw-top lids can be washed and sterilized in hot water. You won’t be able to process these in a water bath, but this jam keeps for 6 months in the refrigerator.
If you’re like me and have cherry tomatoes coming out of your ears, then THIS! This is what to do with them! The jam is wonderful with savory fare, but it’s also good as a simple smear on a buttered baguette.
Our current obsession is eating it on wheat crackers with goat cheese and a leaf of fresh basil on top, but the possibilities are endless!
Yields about four 4 oz. jars
2 1/2 lbs. organic vine-ripened cherry tomatoes
2 cups (400g) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon coarse black pepper
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 teaspoon coarse black pepper
Wash tomatoes thoroughly and remove stems. Gently pat dry with a soft tea towel.
Place the tomatoes, sugar, lemon juice, and water in a large stock pot. Place over medium heat and stir until tomatoes are coated with sugar. Cook until the sugar is dissolved, mashing the tomatoes with a large wooden spoon or spatula as you stir. Increase the heat to medium-high. Stir in the salt and pepper. The mixture may foam as it cooks; when foam rises to the top, skim it off with a large spoon.
Stir frequently to ensure the tomatoes are cooking evenly, until most of the liquid has cooked off. The mixture is ready when it has a glossy appearance, the tomato skins are translucent, and it has a slightly sticky consistency.
Ladle the jam into sterilized canning jars and lid. Let rest at room temperature until cool. Store the jam in the refrigerator for up to six months.
If canning these for long-term storage, process the jars in a water bath canner with boiling water that covers the tops of the jars. Time the jars at 15 minutes when the water starts boiling again after adding them to the canning pot. Remove the jars from the water bath and allow them to stand until the lids seal (with a satisfying ‘pop’!).
Serve tomato jam over goat cheese with crackers, or alongside a charcuterie board. Serve with seafood, or use it to fancy-up fried potatoes of all kinds!