Making homemade jam is rewarding for several reasons. The one that comes to mind first is that it’s something rarely done outside of grandma and foodie kitchens; most people tend to buy their jams at the supermarket. The next is that it makes really great gifts, especially around the holidays. It’s really easy to make lots of small jars of delicious, homemade jam for family, friends, and neighbors.
While tomatoes aren’t exactly in season during colder months, we went for it anyway. It turned out really well, but we can’t wait to try this recipe again in summer when tomatoes are at their peak.
This is a recipe that’s best done on a weekend, when you’ll be home for a good part of the day. It takes about four hours to simmer down this pot of tomatoes, and the simmering can’t be rushed; if the heat gets too high, that will kill the brightness of the tomato flavor and make it flat. Make sure to use a heavy bottomed non-reactive pot (not aluminum), like this Lagostina stainless steel stock pot
While at first tomatoes and rosemary seem like savory ingredients, when combined with sugar the balance between sweet and savory is especially delicious, and is more interesting than run-of-the-mill, one-dimensional grape jam with too much sugar.
Simmer the jam down until it becomes thick. As you get closer to this point, reduce your heat further and stir often to avoid scorching. You’ve just spent hours on this jam—it’s a precious commodity! The worst thing that could happen is most likely at this stage.
In order to preserve your jam (that’s like, the whole point, right?), make sure to boil your jars and lids to ensure no bacteria spoil it. We used a T-fal 22-quart Pressure Canner.
Pear lavender jam, while sweeter than tomato, is just as complex and interesting. In both recipes, the key is in the balance between the fruit and the herb which accents the fruit’s natural flavor.
While any ripe pears will do, we recommend Bosc, Comice, Bartlett, or Anjou pears for their sweetness.
Simmer down your pears, sugar, lavender, and lemon juice until it reaches a jammy consistency. This will take much less time than the tomatoes, about 20 minutes.
Remove your jam from heat and pour it into prepared jars. Make sure everything is clean and process in a canner for 10 minutes. If you don’t have a canner, boiling the jars, covered, in a pot will work.
Remove the jars with tongs and let them cool. Test the seals to make sure they’re tight
Sealed jars can be stored in a cool, dark pantry for up to one year. Unsealed jars should be refrigerated and used relatively quickly.
Enjoy some immediately on toast with butter!