Thursday, February 23, 2012


Recently, I stumbled upon a recipe at theKitchn for Oven-Roasted Tomato Jam.  I was excited to try this, since I like savory jams, it had a neat twist with the addition of cinnamon, and it looked very simple.  Unfortunately, the results were less than spectacular.  The garlic burned, much was left stuck to the foil lining the pan, and the texture was dominated by tomato skins. So I tinkered with it a bit, and the results were much improved.

The original recipe calls for either fresh or canned tomatoes, with the fresh being preferred.  The problem with using fresh tomatoes is that you end up with a bunch of tough papery tomato skins, which really throws off the texture.  You could blanch the tomatoes and skin them, but I found that for this recipe, canned works just as well.  The flavors are intensified by the roasting, so I couldn't tell much difference in between fresh and canned in the final product.  It is 1-2 hours quicker to use canned as well.  I used the entire can of whole plum tomatoes, including all of the juice, which reduced down to a nice consistency.   This yielded about a half cup of jam, so next time I may try doing two cans at once in a single baking dish.

The original calls for using a metal pan lined with aluminum foil.  The jam tended to burn in places, and stuck to the foil, even using generous amounts of olive oil.  When stirring, the foil tended to tear as well, making a mess, and worried me that I could accidentally incorporate scraps of foil into the jam.  Acidic tomatoes, aluminum, and time are not a good mix in any case, so for the second batch I switched to a 9"x13" glass baking dish.  This not only cut down on the burning, it also allows you to scrape up the tomatoes with a sturdy spatula in order to stir them. 

Speaking of burning, most of the garlic ended up burnt and blackened in the first batch.  While using canned tomatoes cut down on the cooking time, I decided to play it safe and roast the garlic separately and incorporate it back in at the end.  This gave me more control.  For this particular batch, I didn't have enough garlic, so I roasted some shallots with the garlic cloves.  This was serendipitous, as the texture and flavor of the shallots were a nice addition.

Oven-Roasted Tomato Jam

1 28 oz can peeled whole tomatoes
3-4 cloves garlic
3-4 shallots
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly-ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Empty an entire can of peeled whole tomatoes, including all the juice into a 9x13 glass baking dish. Break up the tomatoes a bit with a sturdy metal spatula. Drizzle tomatoes generously with olive oil.  Sprinkle with a couple pinches of salt, a few grinds of pepper, and sprinkle with the cinnamon.

Bake at 325°F for 1-2 hours, until juice has thickened to a paste and tomatoes are soft.

Meanwhile, put the garlic and shallots in an oven-safe roaster or coffee mug,  and bake alongside the tomatoes until soft and mellow, about an hour.  Remove, peel, mince, and set aside.

Scrape tomatoes up with your metal spatula, turning and mixing, and breaking up any large hunks.  Increase heat to 450°F and roast tomatoes for another hour, turning and stirring every 15 minutes or so to mix the dark parts back in.

Mix in garlic and shallots, and mash together to a jam-like consistency.  Place in a jar or other container and refrigerate.

Serve with bread or crackers and soft cheese.