Are you interested in canning, but worried you don’t have enough experience to do it right? Did you read our post about Virginia’s prized Hanover tomatoes and decide you want to learn how to make our famous tomato jam?
No matter what level canner you are, we can help you get great results the first time with this easy-to-follow recipe for Hanover tomato jam. It’s delicious served on toast with goat cheese and cured meats or alongside grilled salmon or chicken. If you've never canned before, start here with the National Center for Home Food Preservation to ensure food safety.
Tomatoes can be a bit time intensive to process when you have to skin and core them. With tomato jam, you leave the skins on, which makes the recipe easier for beginners. In fact, the skins enhance the flavor of the jam.
A Note About Tomatoes, Acidity and Canning Safety
Tomatoes are not acidic enough (do not have a low enough pH level) to be canned safely on their own. If you plan to preserve your jam using the waterbath canning method, use bottled lemon or lime juice as bottled citrus juices have consistent pH levels. Unfortunately, the pH levels of fresh citrus juices may vary, so you can’t be certain your tomato-based jam will be safe. For this reason, it is important to avoid fresh citrus juice in tomato-based waterbath canning recipes. And remember, especially if you’re a beginner, it’s always best to follow trusted, tested recipes and USDA canning guidelines.
First, core your Hanover tomatoes. If you don’t have access to Hanover tomatoes, you can use any vine-ripened tomatoes available in your area.
Combine all of your ingredients into a 5 to 6-quart pot and bring the mixture to a boil. It will look like a big batch of tomato soup in the beginning.
Once it comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and let it simmer for a few hours until it reaches a jam-like consistency and reduces by at least half, as pictured below. As the tomatoes cook down with the ginger, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg, your home will be filled with the aroma of what everyone will recognize as holiday spices - yes, even in the summer.
When your jam has reached this jelly-like thickness, the canning process is ready to begin. Ladle the hot jam into sterilized jars and can. Alternatively, you can let the jam cool to room temperature and ladle into jars to keep in the refrigerator.
Either way, this savory-sweet jam is perfect on toast, alongside cheese and cured meats, on top of a burger or as a topping on grilled proteins. It would make an excellent hostess or holiday gift if wrapped with a ribbon or baker’s twine and a decorative gift tag. Imagine one’s delight at receiving the gift of summer in the middle of a cold winter.
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