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Guest Blog: Marisa McClellan of Food In Jars

Our first guest blog ever on The Joy Kitchen is by Marisa McClellan, who blogs at and who recently published a book by the same name. After following her blog for quite some time, then purchasing and using her book, I can safely say that Marisa's enthusiasm for and skill with all things canned and preserved is downright inspirational. The recipe below for tomato jam is no exception.

In the springtime, I approach food preservation with great care. I fuss over my jams, giving plenty of thought to size of my fruit dice and the length of time I allow for maceration. My pickles are packed into jars with great precision and accuracy. That time of year, I’m delighted to be anticipating the coming abundance.

Come August, my elevated aspirations are gone. I can to get it done, to get those bits of summer into their respective jars before the season is gone and I’m left with the potatoes, storage squash and kale of winter. And so my many acts of preservation become a bit frenzied and as easy as I can make them.

Because tomatoes only appear in volumes appropriate for preserving towards the end of summer, I always feel slightly fevered when prepping them for canning. The bulk of the tomatoes I do are simply peeled and packed into jars whole. I always save a few out for slow roasting and I try to make at least two batches of tomato jam every season.

Of all the things I make each year, the one I’d miss the most is that tomato jam. It’s not a recipe I invented. I didn’t find it sifting through one of my many preserving books. This version of tomato jam came into my life through my friend Amy. She’s an avid preserver and is one of the best home cooks I know. One year, she gave me a half pint of this jam and a week later, after I’d scraped every last drop from the jar, I went back to her to beg for the recipe. Thankfully, she was willing to share.

What makes this jam so terrific is that it tastes like high-class ketchup. The flavor profile is familiar, but better than any squirt bottle of Heinz I’ve ever encountered. I slather it on turkey burgers and dip wedges of oven-roasted sweet potatoes into it. You can serve it with a cheese platter, or just plop a jar on the picnic table to go with hot dogs. It’s versatile and delicious. In my book, you can’t ask much more of a preserve than that.

Amy's Tomato Jam
Makes 3 pints

5 pounds tomatoes, cored and finely chopped
3 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup bottled lime juice
2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes

Combine all ingredients in a large, nonreactive pot. Bring to a boil over high heat and then reduce the heat to low. Simmer the jam, stirring regularly, until it reduces to a sticky, jammy mess. Toward the end of cooking, be vigilant about stirring, as it burns easily when it’s nearly finished. When it is done, it should look glossy and it shouldn’t be at all runny. This will take between 11/2 and 2 hours.

Once the jam is cooking, the vital work is done. This jam keeps for ages in the refrigerator, so you can funnel it into jars, let it cool and then pop it in the back of the fridge. However, if fridge space is precious, it can also be canned in a boiling water bath canner for shelf stability. Here’s how that’s done.

When the jam is nearly done, prepare a boiling water bath and three pint jars (you can also use a combination of pint and half pint jars if you prefer). Place the lids in a small saucepan, cover them with water, and simmer over very low heat.

When the jam has cooked down sufficiently, remove the pot from the heat and ladle the jam into the prepared jars. Wipe the rims, apply the lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes.

Preserved in this manner, unopened jars of tomato jam will last up to two years. Kept in the fridge, it will keep for at least 6 months.


Cecily's picture

I made tomato jam last summer and it was so delicious. This recipe sounds pretty close to what I did, but I did not use red pepper flakes. Must try this recipe this year. For those who have never had tomato jam, it is worth making as it is an excellent alternative to berry jams.
meg's picture

We love tomato jam. It's awesome on sandwiches, with grilled meat, or on a cheese plate. You should also check out the Golden Cherry Tomato and Ginger Jam on our site. It's different but equally delicious!

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Place in a saucepan just large enough to hold them snugly:
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Cover the eggs by one inch with cold water. Put the pan over high...