Let’s Cook Hot & Spicy Tomato Jam a.k.a. Knock-Out Tomato Chutney

I love ripe, juicy tomatoes and eagerly look forward to the early summer months when tomatoes ripen in Louisiana. Today I am making a new recipe — at least for me — with some of these ripe tomatoes. It is “Hot & Spicy Tomato Jam.” What? I had never heard of “Tomato Jam” until this year and apparently no one else has either. I took a chance and concocted my own recipe from several sources. The jam turned out to be delicious. I am so pleased. We ate the entire batch in two days. Just a warning — my recipe has a hot kick; hence the subtitle, “Knock-Out Tomato Chutney.”

What is Hot & Spicy Tomato Jam?

Tomato Jam is a new recipe and experience for me. Over the fall and winter months, I “discovered” and collected a number of recipes, primarily in magazines, for this condiment. “Tomato Jam” is very similar to an Indian chutney. It is sweet, pungent and is full of aromatic spices. It differs from tomato sauce or ketchup primarily in the amount of sweetness and consistency. I discovered that there is a wide range in spices and proportions of sugar and vinegar in the recipes. For my version, I selected and combined ingredients from the recipes which I had collected — sort of a mix and match approach — trying to keep to common household ingredients.

Some recipes used a complex mixture of spices such as some of the Indian Tomato Chutney recipes. I found these spices included in various tomato jam and chutney recipes: ginger, curry, fenugreek seeds, dried lentils, cloves, cinnamon, dried red chili, smoked paprika, turmeric, cumin, mustard seed, garlic and onion. At the other end of the spectrum, I found a very simple recipe using basically only creole tomatoes, vinegar and sugar. I took elements from these recipes which I liked and came up with my own absolutely delicious “Hot & Spicy tomato Jam.”

My recipe includes fairly common household ingredients — and the spices in this recipe give a nice, hot “kick” to the condiment. I omitted cinnamon, cumin and cloves since any of these spices can quickly overpower the other ingredients. Instead, I used allspice to give a subtle pungent flavor. I also included celery seed, smoked paprika and mustard seed (or mustard powder) to complement the tomatoes. Mustard seed imparts a grainy and chewy texture to the condiment. If desired, you can substitute dried mustard powder for a smoother texture.

The “surprise” ingredient in my recipe is Sriracha Sauce, a.k.a. “Rooster Sauce.” This sauce dials up the “hot” in my Tomato Jam. Why not use red pepper flakes or Tabasco sauce? It is difficult to measure red pepper flakes to accurately get a consistent hotness. Tabasco sauce gives an entirely different “hot” to a recipe. The Sriracha Sauce was just right.

Here are the ingredients for my recipe. In addition to the spices mentioned above, I included white wine vinegar, sugar, onion (sautéed in oil) and a small amount of salt. And my recipe includes much less sugar and vinegar that other recipes. Why overpower the tomatoes?

Making the Recipe

To make the recipe, core the tomatoes, removing some of the peel around the core. Blanch the tomatoes in boiling water and chill in ice water so that you can easily slip off the skins. Quarter the tomatoes, removing most of the seeds, then coarsely chop. Try to get out most of the seeds; trust me, there will be plenty left in the jam.

You should have about six cups of coarsely chopped tomatoes. Sauté the finely chopped onions in a large, heavy Dutch oven or pot. Then add the chopped tomatoes.

Add the rest of the ingredients. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to just boiling and cook for about 1-1/2 to 2 hours. Stir frequently and mash the tomato chunks against the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon until the tomatoes are more like a pulp.

The tomatoes will reduce down to about half their volume, losing most of the juice. Remove off the stove and transfer to a refrigerator-proof storage container to chill. If you wish, you can process the tomatoes using a canner, water bath and sterilized jars to preserve them and store at room temperature. (In this case, don’t chill the jam but process it immediately.) Otherwise, store the jam jars in the refrigerator and use up within a week or so.

How do you serve “Hot & Spicy Tomato Jam”? My first idea was to spread the jam on a grilled cheese sandwich. Hum, I didn’t like the sweetness. We spread the jam on a biscuit and liked this combination. My husband and I decided that the tomato jam goes best with cheese and crackers and would be great at a party/reception. We also used the jam as a compliment for chicken or fish entrées and smeared it on slices of toast. I liked the side dish approach.

Making “Tomato Jam” was a new experience for me. I was so pleased that I got a well-balanced and aromatic combination of spices on the first try. One teaspoon of Sriracha Sauce doesn’t seem like alot of sauce, but it sure made a “hot” spicy concoction. This “Knock-Out Chutney” is delicious. Enjoy!

Hot and Spicy Tomato Jam a.k.a. Knock-Out Tomato Chutney

  • Servings: 3 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 3 lb ripe tomatoes (about 5 medium tomatoes)
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup chopped)
  • 1/3 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp Sriracha Sauce (a.k.a. Rooster Sauce)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp celery seed
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seed or 1/4 tsp dried mustard powder*
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice

Method and Steps:

  1. Fill medium-sized, heavy saucepan 1/2 full with water and bring to boil.
  2. Fill a large bowl with ice water and set aside.
  3. To remove skins from tomatoes: core tomatoes, cutting off some of peel around the core. Dip tomatoes, several at a time into boiling water for about one minute. Then using tongs, transfer tomatoes to the bowl filled with ice water. When cool enough to handle, slip skins off tomatoes. Repeat until all tomatoes have skins removed.
  4. Quarter peeled tomatoes removing as many seeds as possible. Then cut into large chunks. Set aside.
  5. Empty water from heavy saucepan and wipe dry. Add oil to saucepan and heat to medium heat. Add chopped onions. Cook, stirring frequently, until onions are translucent and soft, about five minutes.
  6. Add peeled and chopped tomatoes to onions in saucepan. Stir to combine.
  7. Add remainder of ingredients to tomatoes in saucepan and stir. Bring to boiling, stirring frequently.
  8. Turn heat to low, until tomato mixture is just simmering. Cook, uncovered, over low heat for about 1-1/2 tp 2 hours. Stir occasionally and smash tomatoes, breaking up large chunks. Cook until the tomato mixture has thickened and the liquid has evaporated.
  9. Remove from stove and cool to room temperature. Transfer to refrigerator-proof container and chill in refrigerator.
  10. May store in refrigerator for two weeks.

NOTE: *The mustard seeds impart a grainy and chewy texture to the jam; if desired, substitute mustard powder for a smoother texture.

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