Tomato Jam With Rosemary and Saffron – Recipe

Tomato Jam With Rosemary and Saffron (on a Grilled Cheese Sandwich)

Tomato jam. Sounds kind of funny, right? But then when you think about it, a tomato is a fruit after all. Cook them down with sugar and seasonings and you get a piquant jam, though you might think of it more as a chutney.

Whatever you call it, this tomato jam is amazing on a grilled cheese with seriously sharp cheddar, or with the chickpea fritters I’ll tell you about next week.

For flavorings, I opted for rosemary, saffron and chili flakes. It could be equally delicious with garlic and lemon zest, or with coriander, turmeric and black pepper.

It is important to peel the tomatoes before making the jam, otherwise you will have unpleasant stringy bits in it. To peel them, you simply make an X in the skin at the end away from the stem, dunk ’em in boiling water for 10 seconds, let ’em cool, and you can zip the skin right off. Doing this for half a dozen tomatoes just takes a few minutes. When I was stageing at Canlis, I cored, peeled and seeded two cases of Roma’s. That takes more than a few minutes.

Since you don’t need picture perfect tomatoes for this jam, you might ask at your farmer’s market to see if you can buy seconds that are a little bruised or otherwise unloved. At my market, they are about half the price of the number ones.

This recipe will make about a cup of jam, which will keep in your fridge for a few days. I’m not a canner (yet), so I don’t know whether it is suitable for processing and longer-term storage.

Tomato Jam With Rosemary and Saffron
Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free
Makes about a cup

  • 24 ounces (by weight) tomatoes, cored and peeled (see above), roughly diced
  • 1/2 cup white onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon rosemary leaves, very finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup sugar (you could also try a little less)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • pinch of chili flakes
  • pinch of saffron, crumbled
  • a few grind of black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  1. How about this for easy? Bring all ingredients to a simmer (the liquid will all come out of the tomatoes, you don’t need to add any). Cook for about an hour, until thick and syrupy. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Print Friendly and PDF
Posted by Michael Natkin on Monday, July 19th, 2010 in Gluten-Free or modifiable, Recipes, Sauces and Condiments, Vegan or Modifiable.

23 Responses to “Tomato Jam With Rosemary and Saffron – Recipe”

  1. Reply
    July 19, 2010 at 8:00 am #

    What would you think about roasting the tomatoes first with a little salt, a handful of brown sugar, and a little olive oil? I have been reading all sorts of posts that say roasting the tomatoes first before putting into all kinds of dishes really deepens the flavor.

  2. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    July 19, 2010 at 8:06 am #

    Hey Julie – I don't think that would hurt anything, but I'm not completely sure it is necessary in this case. The long slow cooking on the stove top seems to develop a lot of caramelized flavor, especially if you are careful to let it cook until it is quite thick at the end. In general I'm a big fan of oven roasted tomatoes though. Here's a nice dish to try if you do roast some tomatoes: link to .

  3. Reply
    July 19, 2010 at 8:56 am #

    Interesting idea! My hubbs made some once, but as something sweet to have on toast – yuk! [sorry!] But I like your notion as kind of a chutney. What would you think of honey instead of sugar? I can’t do sugar or dairy so always substitute. Nowadays it’s hard to get agave that hasn’t been processed till it’s over the hill, so raw honey might be the best??? [Would it have to be thickened a bit with arrowroot?] Love your recipes – keep ’em coming!

  4. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    July 19, 2010 at 9:01 am #

    I agree, I wouldn't want to eat it on toast, at least not like the way I would eat a blackberry jam. On toast with sharp cheese, then you have something. Honey could be good but I'd use the lightest, mildest one I could find for this recipe, because you don't want the honey flavor to overwhelm the other components.

  5. Reply
    July 19, 2010 at 9:15 am #

    I agree with Michael that the honey would overwhelm the delicate flavor of the tomato. How about a bit of stevia instead? Available at most health food markets. And, Michael, this fabulous-sounding recipe would absolutely work to “put up” in jars. I have 14 heirloom tomato plants, so I will very soon be overwhelmed with fruit… I might just have to put up a few jars of this yumminess and save it for Christmas presents! It would be beautiful in fancy little jars!

  6. Reply
    July 19, 2010 at 9:22 am #

    Home canning is not only fun, it is NOT hard or complicated. Tons of great books out there with excellent tips and recipes, and cute little jars are available at grocery stores as well as upscale boutique kinds of stores. I could go on for a long time about how great canning is, but I will exercise a little restraint here! 🙂 I will be anxious to hear about your experience when you finally do start canning.

  7. Reply
    July 19, 2010 at 9:40 am #

    Sounds delicious… I would love to have this recipe canned… Is it possible and what would need to be added/changed to make it “cannable”?

  8. Reply
    July 19, 2010 at 9:42 am #

    @Lea, @N – I don’t know anything about canning safety, but if someone does, I’d love to hear how it would apply to this recipe. Is there a minimum sugar level required to make it safe?

  9. Reply
    July 19, 2010 at 9:44 am #

    i LOVE canning, and i bet this can be done easily but it might need a bit more lemon juice, or some vinegar to increase the acidity so that it could be canned in a boiling water canner. i dont know much about canning in a pressure cooker, but maybe theres another food preservation person out there that would know more? canning fresh homegrown tomatoes is the most rewarding thing. opening a jar in the dark wetness of february is like opening a jar of sunshine!

  10. Reply
    July 19, 2010 at 12:09 pm #

    The jam sounds great with the saffron and chile flakes, and on a grilled cheese, wow! Can’t wait to see the fritters.

  11. Reply
    July 19, 2010 at 2:23 pm #

    Many years ago (say, 40-45) my mother made (and canned – I think she got the proportions from the Agricultural Extension) a tomato jam that we ate on breakfast toast – I remember it as wonderful, but that could be because there was never very much of it, so it was a treat. I may need to try this . . . altho without the chili and pepper; my husband’s allergic to them. Maybe a few cumin seeds instead.

  12. Reply
    July 19, 2010 at 11:42 pm #

    Michael, I think the recipe looks cannable the way it is since you have the 2 T lemon juice to bring up the acidity of the tomatoes. Acidity is a concern when using the “hot bath” canning method, but not if using a pressure canner. I checked several of my canning books, and all add at least 2 T lemon juice to about 1 quart of tomatoes. Most of the recipes for tomato jam (or marmalade or butter) called for tons of sugar – some as much as equal parts tomato and sugar! In my experience, sugar is often a matter of taste – some like more, some like less. But in canning, the crucial issue usually is acidity. It looks like you have more than enough to address that issue. That being said, I would highly recommend checking out a couple of resources just to be on the safe side. Ball has a nice, all-purpose guide to start with. Canning is great fun and very rewarding, but not without some risks if you are not careful. (that’s my “fine print disclaimer” part) I can tell you that I will definitely be trying this recipe out, and I will definitely can some using the hot bath method. I will let you know how it turns out.

  13. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    July 20, 2010 at 11:19 am #

    Lea  – thank you so much for the detailed and thoughtful analysis!

  14. Reply
    July 21, 2010 at 5:17 am #

    Michael, I too have been canning my garden bounty, and with both fresh tomatoes and rosemary in the garden this looks like a perfect candidate recipe with putting up in jars for preserving.

    One question, is the 24 ounces quantity for the tomatoes a weight or volume measure?

    Bon appetit!

  15. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    July 21, 2010 at 8:07 am #

    Thanks Chef! The 24 oz. is by weight, I'll correct the recipe to specify that.

  16. Reply
    July 21, 2010 at 7:53 pm #

    This sounds great! I have a little jar of saffron burning a hole in my kitchen apron …

  17. Reply
    July 23, 2010 at 9:50 am #

    I have been wanting to make tomato jam for a long time. This looks so delicious!

  18. Reply
    July 24, 2010 at 4:52 pm #

    FWIW, I think the canning experts (I am not one) would nix this as a cannable recipe; although the acidity is brought up by the lemon juice, there is also a significant amount of very low-acid onions in there. The experts usually say don’t guess, and only use canning recipes from reputable sources, such as your local extension service or the Ball Blue Book. Cannable or not, I’ll be trying it when tomatoes are at their peak here!

  19. Reply
    July 25, 2010 at 10:25 pm #

    I agree with the other “canners” here. I don’t see a problem art all with canning it. Of course, I’d want to quadruple the recipe just to make it worth the time of sterilizing the bottles and such. 🙂

    I’m not convinced it wouldn’t be good on toast. Peanut butter and tomato sandwiches are classic Southern fare.

  20. Reply
    July 28, 2010 at 12:13 am #

    Hi Michael, here’s a little update on the canning of this tomato jam recipe… I used tomatoes from my garden (all heirlooms, some yellow, mostly red) and doubled the quantity – if you’re gonna put food up, you might as well make it worth the effort! I tripled the lemon juice, though, since many of my tomatoes are on the sweet side and seem a bit low on acid. I didn’t quite double everything else, though, so as not to over sweeten or overwhelm the tomatoes. It turned out delicious! And… I now have half a dozen jars. I am going to let them sit in the pantry for a while to see what happens. My hunch is that everything will be just fine. There is plenty of acid in there to take care of the onion issue that Lisa was concerned about. As I was tasting it, I couldn’t help thinking how delicious it would be with some fresh goat cheese. That is on my list to make this week… I’ll let you know. And I’ll keep you posted on the jars.

  21. Reply
    August 2, 2010 at 4:02 am #

    I did some tomato jam last year. After bringing it to some parties for people to smear on crackers- it is a very sought after jam. Everyone is always surprised. I like your recipe here and I will give it a go this canning season. I did can mind btw and wow what a treat it was.

  22. Reply
    August 10, 2010 at 3:14 pm #

    My girlfriend makes a gorgeous warm tomato jam that goes brilliantly with pork chops. She claims it also tastes amazing in a salad with feta cheese and rocket, but I’ve never tried it, I’m more a sandwich lunch kinda guy…

  23. Reply
    August 13, 2012 at 5:39 am #

    Refer to Ball canning book for water bath canning tomatoes safely. There is a guide to the amount of lemon juice per pint/quart, etc. I’m going to can my Tomato Jam for winter consumption. Yum.

Leave a Reply