Leena Cooks n Cans: The Perfect BBQ Appetizer- Tomato Basil Jam

By on Aug 16, 2010 in Appetizers, BBQ, Canning, Condiments, Jam, Leena Cooks, Savory | 13 comments

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The makings of a great tomato basil jam. Makes a killer summer bbq appetizer!

Click for tigress can jam food blog challenge Welcome to the August Tigress Can Jam, topic: TOMATOES!!

By now, most of you know that I am participating in a year-long canning group hosted by Tigress over at Tigress in a Jam. The rules are simple. Each month, someone picks an ingredient, and everyone has a few weeks to create something with that ingredient, can it using a water bath canner, and post it on their blogs. Here’s the run down of the past seven months:

January: Citrus- I made blood orange port marmalade

February: Carrots- I made a gajar ki chutney with caramelized shallots

March: Alliums- I made an onion, apple ale relish

April: Herbs- I made a strawberry rhubarb rosemary jam

May: Rhubarb- I made a spiced rhubarb jam June:

Berries- I made my famous Chinese 5 spice pickled cherries

July: Cucurbits- I made 5 different pickles and relishes: spicy garlic dill cucumber slices, bread and butta cucumber slices, bbq zucchini relish, spicy garlic dill cucumber relish, and Indian cucumber relish

And here we are in August. I have been dying to make this since the herb challenge, but tomatoes weren’t in season back then. Now they are, and here it is: my tomato basil jam. Not only is it delicious on its own, but it makes the perfect easy bbq appetizer- just top a cracker with your favorite cheese (I used goat cheese and marinated mozzarella) and finish with the tomato basil jam. The combination of salty and sweet is ridiculously addictive and perfect to awaken the taste buds for the rest of a kick-ass bbq.

More food porn and the recipe after the jump.

Organic heirloom tomatoes grown in Watsonville, CA. I purchased them for $3 a pound for this recipe.

The most annoying part of the recipe--dropping tomatoes into boiling water, then ice water, then peeling their skin off. All that work for such little results, I think, but I'm sure tomato skins in jam are not a good thing.

The first step is to cook the chopped, peeled tomatoes down to a concentrated liquid, from 4 cups down 2-3 cups.

The tomato jam almost finished. By this point, the lemon juice and sugar have already been added, and I just added the basil. I canned the jam instantly after adding the basil, in order to help retain it's color.

My canned tomato basil jam. Like I how I posed them next the tree, looking all woodsy a la a bad 80s family photo? It was the only spot with light in my entire yard. Plus, it's just cool.

The perfect summer bbq appetizer, whether you can it or not--crackers topped with cheese (I used goat cheese on one and a marinated mozzarella on another) topped with a bit of tomato basil jam.

Recipe: Leena’s Tomato Basil Jam

Summary: Inspired by a recipe from the book Gourmet Preserves Chez Madeleine by Madeleine Bullwinkel


  • 3 pounds of ripe, locally grown organic heirloom tomatoes
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • Zest and juice from two lemons
  • 1 bunch of basil leaves, separated from the stems
  • Balsamic vinegar to taste (I used 3 tablespoons)


  1. Place a clean, small plate in the freezer for future use.
  2. Peel the tomatoes. To do this, I dipped them in a pot of boiling water for 30 seconds, then into a bowl of ice water to cool it down. Then I used a small paring knife to easily remove the skin, which was loosened by this process.
  3. Seed the tomatoes over a sieve to save the juices, and coarse chop the tomatoes. The tomato chunks and juices should equal roughly 4 abundant cups.
  4. Put the tomato and juices into a large nonreactive pot with lid and bring to a boil. Remove the lid and simmer the liquid for 30 minutes or until it is reduced to 2 1/2-3 cups and no longer has excess moisture.
  5. While the tomatoes are cooking, puree half of the basil leaves with half of the lemon juice.
  6. Add the lemon zest and non-basil lemon juice to the tomato mixture, and then begin adding sugar 1/2 cup at a time, letting it come to a boil before adding the next installment. Cook, stirring frequently, for ten minutes, until the jam thickens. The temperature should be around 210 degrees F.
  7. Remove from heat and add the lemon-basil juice. Take the plate from the freezer and place a spoonful of jam on it. Put back in freezer for 2 minutes, then taste test cooled jam for sweet and sour balance. Add more lemon juice or some balsamic vinegar to help balance the sweetness, and test again. When the jam is seasoned properly, cut the remaining basil into a chiffonade (thin strips), then fold into jam.
  8. Fill jam into hot, clean, sterilized jars leaving 1/4 inch of headspace. Top with lids and rings, and process in a hot water bath canner for 10 minutes for half pint and 4 oz jelly jars. Let cool completely before storing in a cool dark place for up to one year. Or, if you don’t want to can this recipe, simply store in an airtight container in the fridge for three months.

Microformatting by hRecipe.

A close-up of my sexy tomato basil jam.


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  1. Leena

    17 Aug ’10

    Post a Reply

    Thanks, Mark! Let me know how it turns out and how you use it–I'm always looking for more ideas.You know. Other than cheese.

  2. Adrienne

    18 Aug ’10

    Post a Reply

    This looks great! Did you get the 2- 8 oz jars and 1- 4 oz. jar from the recipe or was there more? I'm so bad at guessing how many jars I need ahead of time and generally end up short.

    I can't wait to give this recipe a try!

  3. Elle Ross

    21 Aug ’10

    Post a Reply

    Wow Yum! I think it would be great smeared on polenta and tilapia with caper-butter, as a meal, or as a dip with steamed artichokes, for an appetizer.

  4. Leena

    23 Aug ’10

    Post a Reply

    Hi Adrienne~ This recipe yields 2 1/2 -3 cups of jam, and I got a solid 3 cups, but chose to reserve 1/2 cup for a party, leaving me 2 1/2 cups to can. That is why you see only two half pint jars and one 4 oz jar.Let me know how it turns out!

  5. ElleRoss

    25 Aug ’10

    Post a Reply

    I thought of another one- on fried green tomatoes, which I'm having for dinner tonight and really with a had a bit of this jam!

  6. Growandresist

    26 Aug ’10

    Post a Reply

    Looks delicious! I am a sucker for anything to top cheese and crackers…they are my favorite thing to can. YUM. Nice job!

  7. Janet

    3 Sep ’10

    Post a Reply

    I made this one last weekend, and it's knock your socks off amazing. Rich, sweet, tomato, yet not tomato, and a gentle bite. And it looks so pretty too, with green flecks in a deep brick-red jam.Shame that it all boils down to just two (250ml) jars.

    Thanks for the recipe


  1. Red shirt day « Jams, chutneys and other misadventures - [...] then, thanks to the Internet, there was a glorious green-flecked, rust-red tomato-basil jam, where three pounds of ripe tomatoes…

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