Unlikely bedfellow: tomatoes, vanilla and JAM

Decided to do something completely unconventional with my 3 pounds of tomatoes. Like many folks, we are burnt out on fresh tomato sauce, bruschetta, and tomato salads by this time of the year. So I decided to to give this intriguing recipe for Sweet Tomato Jam posted on the NY Times a whirl.

I was skeptical, but it is a good one. Melissa Clark does not disappoint. The refrigerator jam is super sweet and savory simultaneously. Beautiful color, and really easy to prepare once you put some elbow grease into chopping up 3 pounds of tomatoes. I made a few modifications, like using less honey than the recipe called for simply because I ran out, and vanilla extract because I didn’t have any vanilla beans on hand. I also added a few dried red chili peppers to add some heat to balance the sweetness. I’ve included my version below. Of course, I have no idea how we will consume all this scrumptious jam…rather, I fear I will consume it all on my own.


3 pounds firm ripe tomatoes, cored and diced (about 8 cups)
1/2 cup honey
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons vanilla
2-3 dried red chili peppers (optional)
Pinch fine sea salt

Combine all ingredients in large stainless steel pot, or other non-reactive material. Bring to simmer and let cook for 1 hour 30 minutes, or until jammy consistency reached.

Sweet Tomato Jam bubbling on the stove

Taste and add additional salt if needed to balance flavor. Spoon into glass jars and let cool before refrigerating.

Yield: 3 half-pint jars

For canning instructions, see NY Times recipe


  1. OK, Debra. This one is a winner. When I read the post I was skeptical. But having tasted it today I’m convinced. This morning I had it with Teddy peanut butter on an english muffin and it was sublime! I’m thinking of so many ways to use it. This is very sweet like a real jam but has an earthiness and nuttiness to it that fruit and berry jams don’t. I’d like to use it in a spicy dish for sweet earthy balance and perhaps make some on the more savory or spicy side to have a tomato jam for every purpose. Bravo!

  2. Dan Doern says:


    Surprise use for this awesome jam: on top of meatloaf. We made a simple, classic meatloaf last night and were going to do a spicy ketchup glaze on top but used your jam as a base instead. We added a little tomato paste, some hot sauce, cider vinegar, and a dollop of ketchup. WOW!!!!

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