Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Heritage Tomatoes from Paley's Farm Market in Sharon, Connecticut.

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Summer is winding down and loads of vegetables are coming out of local gardens. Here in the northeast it is officially tomato time, and there are so many ways to preserve tomatoes! Probably because when they are in season there are so many it is hard to know what to do with them, kind of like zucchini.

This conserve is based on a vintage recipe from an older Ball Blue Book with the cinnamon and cloves thrown in as a nod to Indian jams and chutneys and for the warmth these spices bring to the citrus tone, but they are optional and this conserve is good with or without them. 

Many similar recipes can be found categorized as tomato jam or tomato butter, but they all boil down to a thick, sweet tomato spread. The lemon juice and peel add acidity needed to make the tomatoes safe for preserving in the hot water bath, as well as pectin for help with the jelling process. If you are going to proccess this recipe in a Hot Water Bath you may add one tablespoon bottled lemon juice to each pint jar before adding your tomatoes.

It is very helpful if you have a candy thermometer, and make sure you have read through the recipe and have everything prepped, sterilized, and ready to go.  Once you have made the syrup, the canning process should progress rather quickly. 

Spread this conserve on warm rolls, serve as a side with a cheese plate, or as a spread for sandwiches.



5 pounds firm just ripe Tomatoes

2 pounds Sugar

1 lemon, thinly sliced

1 stick Cinnamon

2 Cloves


Blanch the tomatoes in hot water and remove the skins. Cut into quarters, cover with sugar and allow to stand overnight. 

Drain off syrup; heat to the boiling point.

Once the syrup is boiling tie cinnamon and cloves (optional) into square of muslin, cheese cloth or jelly bag, suspend in mixture, also add lemon slices, continue cooking until syrup will spin a long thread  (230 - 235 degrees on candy thermometer). 

Remove bag of spices. 

Pack tomatoes into sterilized hot canning jars and carefully add hot syrup to 1/4 inch from rim.

Seal and process in Hot Water Bath for 15 minutes, or cool and store in refrigerator.

Cool and store processed jars in dark pantry for a year.

I made 5 half pint jars with this recipe.


  1. Ooh, very interesting! What would you do with a conserve like this? I suppose using it like a chutney or meat glaze would be my first move...

    1. Absolutely Eileen, I think both of those could work. I have to tell you, though, my other half as been eating it straight from the jar by the spoonful. I'm getting ready to try another small batch without the spices, to make the taste a bit less complicated, but I feel that either way it is a deliciously different kind of sandwich spread, although a soft cheese and cracker has been quite satisfying with a dollop of this conserve on top. ( Rice crackers and a soft gruyere are my current favorite. )

    2. I have been searching for this recipe 10yrs my grama made it specially for me...we had it on fresh homemade vread, toast and baked with chicken

  2. We used to make this without the spices but added a small package of Strawberry jello to it, no one could tell it wasn't complete strawberry jam....

  3. This is fabulous, easy and delicious - going to make this today!
    my blog

  4. How many tomatoes would this be, with avg., size tomatoes

  5. Barbara,
    Size of tomatoes is so variable it is best to stick with the weight (5 lbs per batch) with this recipe. So glad you found this.

    As you can tell many of my recipes are 'old' that one can go back to time and time again.