No-Peel Tomato Jam (for canning!)

By Amanda Paa – Updated September 4, 2023
5 from 6 votes
A sweet and savory homemade tomato jam with robust flavor from spices like ginger, smoked paprika, and cinnamon. Easy to make; no peeling of the tomatoes or pectin necessary! The simmering time concentrates the essence of late-summer tomatoes and results in a thick, spreadable, delicious preserve. Uses the water bath canning method.
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tomato jam in a clear jar with gold spoon
tomato jam in a clear jam with a gold spoon in it

At the very end of last Fall, I had one last bundle of tomatoes that needed to be preserved. I had already canned two batches of Fire-Roasted Salsa and Slow-Roasted Cherry Tomatoes Preserved in Olive Oil, plus a batch of sauce. With all the sourdough bread I make, tomato jam seemed like a good idea.

I used Ball Canning and a few different recipes as a starting point; from Food in Jars and Serious Eats. The jam turned out amazing, with the most robust sweet and savory tomato flavor, warmth from a handful of spices, and lemon juice that balanced it all. The simmering time concentrates the essence of late-summer tomatoes and results in a thick, spreadable, delicious preserve.

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Why You Should Make This Tomato Jam:

This tomato jam completely transforms an egg sandwich, grilled cheese, or BLT. I love it as a dipping sauce for meatballs or chicken. And I eat it on toast with whipped ricotta like it’s going out of style. It has easily become my favorite condiment. And the best part is, it’s easy to make with any hodge podge of tomatoes you have, no peeling (or pectin!) necessary.

piece of toast with whipped ricotta and tomato jam

Ingredients for Homemade Tomato Jam:

  • any mix of fresh tomatoes; heirloom, roma, cherry, paste, slicers
  • apple cider vinegar
  • lemon juice
  • sugar
  • spices: smoked paprika, cinnamon, black pepper, ginger

The Important Role of Sugar in Jam Making

Sugar isn’t used just to add sweetness to jam or jelly. It always seems like a lot of sugar to add, but the truth is that the ratio of sugar is crucial to the pectin set, shelf-stability, color, and flavor of the finished jam. 

It is a very important ingredient to ensure the preservation of the jam, preventing it from oxidation and creating a web of chemical bonds that prevent air and water from entering. Fascinating!

heirloom tomatoes on a white surface

How to Water-Bath Can Tomato Jam:

  • Combine all ingredients in a large, heavy- bottomed pot. Bring to a rapid boil for 3 minutes, then reduce temperature to a simmer.
  • Stir regularly and watch the jam progress, keeping it a simmer. Cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, the jam is thick and sticky, and when you drag a spatula through the bottom of the pot, the jam will just lightly move back into the space.
  • When the jam has cooked down sufficiently, remove from heat and fill your hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch of head space. Wipe rims, apply lids and twist on rings until finger tight. Process in a boiling water canner for 20 minutes.
  • Remove and let cool on a flat towel for 24 hours. Then check and make sure the jars sealed.

Ways to Eat Tomato Jam:

  • I absolutely love it with whipped ricotta on toast.
  • It completely transforms an egg sandwich, grilled cheese, or BLT.
  • As a topping for burgers or hot dogs in place of ketchup.
  • As a dipping sauce or glaze for meatballs.
  • It pairs well with cheese and charcuterie platters, providing a complementary flavor.
tomato jam ingredients in a large pot
tomato jam simmering on the stove in a purple handled pot

Do you need to use packaged pectin to make this jam set?

No, you do not need to add pectin to this tomato jam recipe!

Pectin is a type of naturally present starch, called a heteropolysaccharide, that occurs in the cell walls of fruits and vegetables giving them structure. The amount of natural pectin in fruits and vegetables differs, so sometimes you have to add a commercially made powdered pectin to make jam set.

When combined with sugar and acid over heat, the pectin will will be drawn out of the tomatoes by the acid. While simmering, moisture evaporates and concentrates the pectin, giving you a spreadable jam when it’s finished.

tomato jam in a pot with gold spoon
tomato jam in clear jams stacked on top of each other
tomato jam in a jar with spoon out of it

How do I know if my canning jars sealed?

When you inspect lids for seals after the 24 hours, there should be no flex when the center is pressed. Remove the bands and attempt to lift lids off gently with your fingertips. Properly sealed lids will remain attached. If a lid fails to seal within 24 hours, immediately refrigerate the product and store it there. You can continue to eat it as normal.

More Tomato Canning Recipes:

tomato jam in a jar with gold spoon

No-Peel Tomato Jam (for canning!)

A sweet and savory homemade tomato jam with robust flavor from spices like ginger, smoked paprika, and cinnamon and a thick, spreadable texture. No peeling of the tomatoes and no pectin necessary! Uses the water bath canning method to preserve the jam.
5 from 6 votes
Prep Time :15 minutes
Cook Time :1 hour 15 minutes
Yield: 3 half pints
Author: Amanda Paa

SCALE:

Ingredients

  • 5 pounds tomatoes (Can be any combination of heirloom, slicers, romas, cherry tomatoes. Romas or paste tomatoes will give you a larger yield because they are meatier.)
  • 1 1/4 cups (250 grams) granulated sugar*
  • 1 cup (150 grams) lightly packed brown sugar*
  • 4 tablespoons bottled lemon juice
  • 4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons fine salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika

Instructions 

  • Slice tops off tops/stems of larger tomatoes, like heirlooms, then slice all tomatoes in half. I like to hold each halve over the sink and use my fingers to get some of the seeds and juices out (not all, just a quick run through. we are not removing all the seeds). Place a colander in the sink. Chop all of the tomatoes into small cubes and add to the colander as you are going. When finished, toss the tomatoes with your hands to get some more of the liquid out; again, just a quick run through (we are not removing all the seeds).
  • Combine tomatoes and all ingredients in a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Bring to a rapid boil for 3 minutes, then reduce temperature to a simmer.
  • Stir regularly and watch the jam progress, keeping it at a simmer. Cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, the jam is thick and sticky, and when you drag a spatula through the bottom of the pot, the jam will just lightly move back into the space. This will take between 1 and 1 1/2 hours, depending on how high you keep your heat and the moisture in your tomatoes. (Video will show you the complete progression of what the jam will look like.)
  • While this is simmering, prepare jars and lids: place 3 half-pint jars on a rack in a large pot. Add enough water to cover jars, and bring to boil over high heat. Boil for 10 minutes, then turn off heat and allow jars to rest in hot water. 
  • When the jam has cooked down sufficiently, remove from heat and fill your hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch of head space. Wipe rims, apply lids and twist on rings until finger tight.
  • Process in a boiling water canner for 20 minutes. Remove and let cool on a flat towel for 24 hours. Then check and make sure the jars sealed. Stores well for up to 1 year.

Notes

Recipe adapted from Food in Jars.
*Do not reduce the amount of sugar or this will not set. It is not too sweet.

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September 4, 2023

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17 comments

  1. Megan

    5 stars
    I searched high and low for a safe recipe to can and I have to say this is an amazing recipe. I did leave out the ginger, cinnamon and the smoked paprika. I added three serrano peppers to make it extra spicy.

    • Amanda Paa

      so glad to hear you enjoyed it!

  2. Bailey

    I know you said fresh but I have frozen my tomatoes for the season. Is there a good way to thaw so I can use this recipe?

    • Amanda Paa

      You can just thaw them on the counter!

  3. Lois K.

    5 stars
    This looks amazing! Can I use the juice from fresh lemons, instead of the bottled lemon juice?

    • Amanda Paa

      Hello! You can use fresh lemon juice at your own risk; bottled lemon juice has been uniformly acidified so that it has a consistent and dependable acid level so that the recipe is consistently safe.

  4. barb l robarge

    can you use dried ginger

    • Amanda Paa

      yes! i prefer fresh because it has a little more flavor and depth, but you can certainly used dried ground ginger. use 1 teaspoon.

  5. Andra

    5 stars
    This jam is AMAZING. The video was super helpful. Thank you!

    • Amanda Paa

      yay, so glad to hear that! thanks for making the recipe!

  6. Jill

    5 stars
    I made this recipe and it turned out fabulous. I can’t wait to use in all the suggestions Amanda gave with the recipe. We tried it onto a dish of vanilla ice cream. It was so yummy! You won’t regret making it. I can’t wait to make again!

    • Amanda Paa

      So glad you enjoyed the jam, thanks for making the recipe!

  7. Julie

    Can this be frozen rather than canned? My stovetop doesn’t allow that much weight on it for hot water canning. If it can be frozen, how long would it last in the freezer?

    • Amanda Paa

      yes, can be frozen! should be great for up to 10 months.

      • Julie Provenson

        Awesome. Thank you!

  8. EM

    Can I substitute any other sugars here? Coconut sugar? Brown sugar? Any sugar substitutes like monk fruit or stevia? I am afraid to mess with tomato canning… and also wanting to find some cancer friendly recipes for a friend…

    • Amanda Paa

      Hello! It would work with all brown sugar, may be darker in color and slightly sweeter from the molasses in brown sugar. I have not tested it with coconut sugar or sugar substitutes.