Love and Olive Oil

Tomato Preserves

Tomato Preserves

I’m at it again.

Hey, it’s almost the end of the season and I’ve still got empty jars.

I did a tomato jam last year too: that version had a sweet and spicy combination of peaches and peppers in with the tomatoes. It was more like a fancy ketchup than an honest to goodness jam.

This one, however, is jam through and through.

Tomato Preserves

It treats the tomato like the fruit it really is.

If you closed your eyes and ate a spoonful you almost wouldn’t guess it was tomato. Some oddly savory strawberry or something. So yes, it’s very sweet, which puts it in an odd middle-ground between fruit preserves and tomato sauce. It could really go either way.

Sweet Tomato Jam with Buttermilk Biscuits

Spread it on a biscuit.

Or better yet, spread it on a biscuit, top it with some bacon and arugula, and call it the fanciest BLT you ever did see (and subsequently eat).

Tomato jam makes the ultimate grilled cheese – it’s like having your soup and sandwich in one deliciously toasty package.

And, a burger? How good would these be slathered on a juicy burger?


Sweet Tomato Jam

For what it’s worth, this is a pretty loose jam, too. Much like the peach lavender jam from earlier this summer. Any and all pectin in this comes from the lemons. So maybe I didn’t cook it long enough or maybe I should have thrown in another lemon for good measure, but it is nice not to have to deal with pectin for once. Next year, though, I may play with the texture a bit. This has big chunks of almost jewel-like tomato and tomato skins floating in a sweet jammy syrup. A quick run through a food mill might make it more of a smooth, tomato-jam-butter type spread. But however you prepare it, you won’t be disappointed.

Be sure to click through for the recipe and free printable labels! Yippee!

Tomato Preserves

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1 tablespoon mixed pickling spices*
1 (1/2-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled
4 cups sugar
2 medium lemons, seeded and thinly sliced
3/4 cup water
2 pounds small tomatoes, chopped

*If you don’t have any mixed pickling spices, a combination of cinnamon sticks, peppercorns, whole cloves, bay leaf, mustard seeds, whole allspice, whole coriander, and maybe some whole dill, juniper berries, cardamom, or caraway seeds in a similar quantity will work just fine. Whole spices are preferable because you want to be able to remove them from the syrup before canning.


Tie spices and fresh ginger in a square of cheesecloth, creating a spice bag.

In a large non-reactive saucepan, combine sugar, lemon slices, water, and spice bag and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Reduce heat to medium-high and boil gently for 15 minutes. Add tomatoes and simmer, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes become transparent, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and let stand 12 to 18 hours in a cool place.

Prepare canner and wash/sterilize 6 half-pint mason (or equivalent) jars. Keep jars in hot (not boiling) water until ready to use.

Pour mixture through a fine mesh sieve to separate syrup, or use a slotted spoon to remove solids and set aside. Discard spice bag. Bring syrup to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Boil hard for about 3 minutes, or until thickened. Return tomatoes and lemon to syrup; return to a boil and boil hard for 1 minute. Remove from heat and skim foam (if necessary).

Carefully place one lemon slice in the bottom of each jar. Ladle hot jam on top, leaving 1/4-inch of headspace. Wipe jar rims and threads. Screw on lids and rings. Process in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes. Remove from water and let cool completely, 12 to 24 hours. Check seals. Any unsealed jars should be refrigerated and used within 3 weeks.

Recipe from Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving via Bunkycooks.

All images and text © / Love & Olive Oil

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Printable Tomato Preserves LabelsBonus! I probably don’t need to tell you this jam is gorgeous on its own. But add a label and it makes it look like you bought it in a fancy gourmet food store. Can you say, fabulous gift? I for one love giving homemade jam in lieu of wine or nick-knacks during the holidays.

I’m offering these modern jar labels to you, free for personal use. Simply download the printable file, then print onto full-sheet sticker paper (which can be purchased online at OnlineLabels.comor locally at most office supply stores). Cut out the rectangles and apply directly to the the finished jars. These labels should fit most standard mason jars, although if you can find smooth sided jars (ie ones without raised designs on them) that work the best. Curious about the hexagon jars I’ve used? I ordered them online at SKS Bottle (the 6oz size).

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Disclaimer: Copyright Love & Olive Oil. For personal use only. If you post about or share these labels, please credit appropriately and do not link directly to the downloadable file but rather to this post. Please do not distribute these downloadable files. Thank you much!

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  1. Exact same recipe from Ball Blue Book home canning guide, copyright 1995

  2. This recipe is exact to the Ball Blue Book recipe….copyright 1995

  3. This recipe is pretty far off from the safe standards that the Ball book lines out. It takes more than 2 lbs of tomatoes to make 6 cups that it calls for, and they must be cored and peeled, not just “chopped”. Changing a cooking recipe a little is no big deal, but changing a canning recipe is down right dangerous and irresponsible.

    • Plain canned tomatoes, which have no sugar, need to be more carefully prepped and measured, I agree with you there. But this recipe is basically a jam, the ample sugar and lemon juice make it plenty safe for canning (I have a ph meter to check all my jams). 

      The original calls for peeled small tomatoes, but nowhere does it mention coring. 2lbs = 6cups happened to be my yield: different varieties of tomatoes would likely differ in this regard (and the purchase guide in the back of the book lists 1lb of tomatoes yielding 2.5-3 cups chopped, which backs this up). 

  4. Just finished making these for the second time. Should have followed my instincts on the timing. First batch as directed didn’t set at all. Opened jars after two days and brought it up to 220. Perfect! I grow heirloom tomatoes and several people have asked if I made tomato preserves. Well now I have. Love the taste! Thanks for sharing! 

  5. Those preserves are gorgeous, and I just love the ideas that you’ve shared for using them. I also really like the jars, but I’m curious about using them for actual canning… do you just use the lid like a 2 piece lid (twist til finger tight, process, then it pops)? And then, are the lids reusable or do you lose the good sealing power after using them once? (Sorry if these are obvious questions, I’ve never canned and really want to start!)

    • If you’re just starting out I’d suggest using the standard 2-piece lids to begin with, just until you get the hang of things. But I did treat these jars much in the same way, and like the 2-piece lids the seal can only be used once.

  6. Your jam looks beautiful and I love the labels. :-) Mine was thicker , I am not sure why and my tomatoes were not as chunky. Try is again next year. We absolutely love this jam and the unusual flavors. Definitely awesome on biscuits and now that you mentioned it, I need to to make that BLT!

  7. my mum made tomato jelly one year; the colour was a golden iridescent red; the texture beautifully wobbly; and the taste pure amazing tomato. i need to pester her to make it this summer!

  8. Love the look of this tomato jam ~ and those labels certainly add a unique touch for the holidays!

  9. i’m loving your BLT suggestion!

    • I am making the tomato jelly now. I do not want it to be loose. Im going to add the extra lemon. I also made the roasted garlic jelly but cut back on the pectin because i added more lemon it did not set as firmly as i had hoped. Im going to try to reheat it for a thicker outcome today. I added jalapeno to the roasted garlic. I plan to use the tomato jelly on a juicy butter burger!

  10. Ooh, those jars really are nifty! But I’m happy to get your rejects!

    And did you see the pinterest pin about affixing labels with milk? That’s a-what I’m a-gonna do. That way, I can re-use my jars! Assuming people will give me those jars back…

  11. That looks delicious! I must admit I’ve never tried tomato preserve but considering how much I love tomatoes I think I’d instantly be hooked.

  12. I love the idea of tomato jam!! Too bad I am way too intimidated by canning to try it on my own… and I blame my small kitchen for not being able to contain the necessary equipment, but it’s really just that I’m terrified. Adding this stuff to a grilled cheese is the best idea I’ve heard in a while!!!!

  13. such an interesting concept!

  14. Ooh, I could go for that fancy BLT right now! Yum!

  15. Yum! This will help the flavors of summer stay fresh throughout the year!

  16. I’m looking forward to trying this!

  17. My Mom used to make Tomato Preserves a lot like this but she couldn’t remember how she made them and I was worried I’d never have a chance to try my hand. So big thanks for the recipe and the labels.

  18. love this Lindsay!

  19. Interesting! Sadly another summer has gone by without me learning to can though :\

  20. Love the idea of this on a burger; I’m not going to be able to stop thinking about that!

  21. That looks absolutely amazing!

  22. Hehe-I passed a similar recipe on to my BIL who is a Can-Tastic Urban Gardener. He declared it “the Bomb-diggity!”

    After sampling my jar, I’d have to agree. These are going to be the best Christmas gifts this year :)

  23. Oh – this is so perfect. I just bought tomatoes and not sure what to do with them all. I’m sure your tomato preserves not only good on bread or burger :D

  24. All of your jams and preserves look so delicious and each with its own unique properties. You’re one tallented canner! When I eventually find the time and guts to try new-to-me canning, I will be making the rounds through your recipes :)

  25. Hi- where do you buy these jars from?

  26. Maybe it’s a lack of imagination on my part, but I would never think to use tomatoes this way. This looks and sounds delicious! I am SO with you on the biscuit BLT. Yum.

  27. MMmmmm… I love to bottle up summer in the form of this preserves!

  28. Oh, YUM! I love making jam but I’ve never done anything with tomatoes. I’ll give this a try soon :)

  29. I can only imagine how good this is! I love tomatoes, and more savory jellies, like hot pepper jelly, so this is right up my alley. Great labels, too!

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