Cook the Book: Spicy Tomato Jam

Cook the Book: Spicy Tomato Jam

[Photograph: Caroline Russock]

I recently encountered the kind of dilemma that only occurs in mid-summer. I was packing to go away for the weekend when I noticed the bowl of beautiful, perfectly ripe tomatoes sitting on the counter. The problem? The tomatoes would be way past their prime by the time I returned Sunday night. Sticking them in the fridge would render the tomato interiors mushy and therefore no good at all, and throwing them out would be a terrible waste.

As I sat pondering the fate of my tomatoes, I flipped through the pages of Farm to Fork by Emeril Lagasse and came up with an ideal solution: this quick Spicy Tomato Jam. The jam would only take about a half-hour to put together, and would ensure tomato preservation for at least a few weeks.

The sweet and sour components of this Spicy Tomato Jam were intriguing. I was envisioning a mix of the sourness of preserved Moroccan lemons, sweet tomatoes, and a spicy kick from both the ginger and red pepper flakes. Once all of the ingredients were boiling away, they reduced down to a jam-like consistency in no time at all. The final product was quite sweet at first but the heat and sourness crept up soon after, in the nicest possible way.

This is the kind of spread that would make even the most mundane turkey or grilled cheese sandwich into something special, or perhaps even better served with fried oysters as per Emeril's suggestion.

Win Farm to Fork

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Farm to Fork to give away this week.

  • Yield:1 generous pint, two 8-ounce jars


  • 4 cups peeled, seeded, and chopped ripe tomatoes (2 1/2 to 3 pounds tomatoes)
  • 2 lemons, peel cut entirely away and discarded, seeds removed, flesh finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 pinches salt


  1. 1.

    Combine all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a brisk simmer and continue to cook, stirring periodically skimming off any foam that forms on the surface and stirring frequently, until a thick, jamlike consistency is achieved and most of the liquid has evaporated, 30 to 35 minutes. (Stir more frequently during the last 10 minutes so that the jam doesn't burn on the bottom of the pan.)

  2. 2.

    Transfer the jam to hot sterilized jars, filling the jars to within 1/2 inch from the top, and attach the lids and rings.

  3. 3.

    Once they have cooled, store the jars in the refrigerator for up to 4 months. (Alternatively, place the jam in covered nonreactive containers and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.)