Spiced cherry tomato jam.

Thanks to the onslaught of cherry tomatoes in my backyard garden this summer, which is just now coming into full production, I’ve made this homemade spiced cherry tomato jam twice now. You’re thinking, “tomato jam?” Yes, tomato jam!

It’s fantastic with sharp cheddar on crackers, with goat cheese on crostini or on an over-the-top grilled cheese sandwich.

This tomato jam recipe was inspired by one of my favorite summer pasta sauces, made with golden cherry tomatoes, star anise, clove and fresh herbs. The tomato-anise flavor combination turns out to be a real winner, the warmth of the spice pairing beautifully with the tart-sweet tomato taste. (I also love it in this Roasted Tomato-Fennel Soup recipe.) I scouted tomato jam recipes online and added the herb-spice flavoring to a pretty basic technique to come up with this recipe.

This is a small-batch homemade jam that’s easy to make in about 45 minutes; it doesn’t call for pectin, but rather sugar and heat create the lovely texture. Spoon the jam into small jars and freeze them, or use a water-bath canning process to preserve them for shelf storage. Spiced Tomato Jam makes a lovely hostess or summer birthday gift!

Spiced Cherry Tomato Jam recipe

makes 1 1/2 cups

2 pounds yellow or orange cherry tomatoes, halved
2 cups sugar
4 sprigs basil
2 sprigs thyme
2 sprigs tarragon
2 star anise
4 whole cloves
4 teaspoons red wine vinegar

Combine tomatoes and sugar in a large glass bowl; let sit about 4 hours (or refrigerate overnight). Transfer to a large, wide saucepan add herbs, spices and vinegar. Slowly bring the mixture to a boil, then boil rapidly, occasionally stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan to prevent scorching, until it becomes thick, dark and syrupy, about 35 minutes. (Keep up your stirring at the very end of the process; the jam tends to scorch just as it comes to the proper temperature.) Use a candy or digital thermometer to check temperature; it should reach 220° for soft/jelly set. Alternately, spoon a bit of jam onto a small plate and put it in the freezer for a minute or two; it should resemble a soft-set jam. Use tongs to carefully remove spices and herbs.

Jam keeps, refrigerated, for up to 6 months; can be processed in jars in a water-bath canner per manufacturer’s directions (see FreshPreserving.com for the how-tos on canning). Or transfer to small jars and freeze up to 1 year; thaw completely before using.

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