Tomato & Bacon Jam

It’s become a yearly tradition in our house that when we have ripe tomatoes in our garden, my husband makes a big batch of tomato and bacon jam. He gives jars as gifts to friends and co-workers and we keep a bunch of jars for ourselves to enjoy throughout the winter… if it lasts that long.

This year he made a bigger-than-normal batch from a box of tomatoes we picked up at our local farmer’s market. They had boxes of “seconds” tomatoes that weren’t pretty enough to sell at full price. Many had little splits and blemishes, but they were still delicious and perfect for this application. So for $10, we got about 20lbs of tomatoes.

He can’t remember where he found the first recipe he made a few years ago. He’s since made changes to whatever that recipe was to suit our tastes and the recipe below is what we make now. This year, he doubled the recipe below and we ended up with about six quarts of jam. I created circle labels to identify which ones were spicy and which ones weren’t. Also, the labels were helpful since this jam looks very similar to the marinara sauce I made and canned a couple of weeks ago.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 lbs (at least) chopped, thick-cut bacon (ends and trimmings are fine)
  • 2-3 medium onions (sliced or diced)
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, crushed and rough chopped
  • 12 large or 18-24 medium tomatoes (~8 cups rough large dice)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar (to taste)
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/8 cup fresh ground black pepper (more if you like the peppery taste)
  • 3-4 seeded and diced jalapeños (optional)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup (or more to taste)
  • Kosher or Sea Salt

Bacon note: Don’t skimp on the bacon and get the cheap stuff! If you can get the thick cut stuff from the meat counter, that is best. I’ve found that they sell the ends and trimmings cheaper and it works ideally for this. Chop bacon to chunks to speed up cooking. There is no need to worry about size or exact consistency as you will be blending the end product.

Directions:

In a large dutch oven or heavy pot, cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp (but not dry) and the smell attracts every carnivore for three blocks.

While the bacon is cooking, prep the onions, garlic and jalapeños if you are using them. Again, consistency of slicing or dicing is not vital. Once bacon is finished rendering the fat, remove the bacon and drain off most of the fat (save it for cooking eggs for breakfast). Add the onions and garlic (and optional jalapeños) directly to the pot and lightly salt. Cook over medium-low heat until caramelized, stirring often to prevent scorching. By this time, vegetarians may have started gathering. Have no fear as they are easily scared away by the sight of bacon.

While the onions are caramelizing (and this should take at least 20-30 minutes if you’re doing it right), prep the tomatoes by removing stems and seeds and roughly chopping them.

Once the onions are ready, add the tomatoes to the pot and stir well. After 5 minutes, the tomatoes should have released enough moisture for you to turn the heat up to medium. Add the brown sugar, vinegar, black pepper and additional salt to taste at this time. Remember that this will continue to reduce, so don’t over salt at this point.

Once it comes up to a simmer, add the bacon back to the pot, stir well, and reduce heat to medium-low again and leave uncovered to reduce. At this point, if there are any vegetarians left in your kitchen, make them start cleanup for you.

Allow to simmer while stirring occasionally for at least an hour. It is important to continue to lower the heat as it reduces to prevent scorching. You’ll know you’re ready when the majority of the liquid has evaporated and you’re left with a bubbling cauldron of bacon-y, tomato-y goodness. Taste and add salt at this point if necessary. Turn off the heat and mix in the maple syrup and taste again (cuz you know you want to).

This last time, we tried transferring the mixture to our slow cooker to simmer, setting it on High. This worked alright without the worry of scorching the bottom or having to lower the heat as it reduced. Not entirely necessary and it made yet another pot dirty, but it was kind of convenient to be able to leave it to simmer, uncovered, without having to mess with it.

If you have an immersion blender, carefully blend the mixture until it reaches a nice consistency and begins to looks slightly creamy. It can be a little chunky, but I prefer uniformity. If you need to use a blender, carefully ladle the molten goodness and blend. Taste again (on a piece of good bread that has been toasted) for quality control purposes.

If you have mason jars, you can put the hot jam directly in and once capped and cool, they will store in the fridge for two weeks (or so I’m told, as it never lasts that long). They can also be frozen for at least three months so you can remember what summer tasted like when there is three feet of snow outside.

This recipe will make enough to give away a few jars, but be warned that once you do, you will be harassed annually to produce more.

Serving suggestions? It is great on toast, eggs, burgers, grilled cheese, as a pizza sauce and served with crackers as an appetizer. Get a couple slices of good bread, spread the jam on liberally and fry up an egg with a bit of cheese for a great breakfast sandwich.

Enjoy!!

One Response to Tomato & Bacon Jam

  1. I don’t know why, but the term “jam” totally throws me off when it comes to savory sauces! But reading through the recipe, this DOES sound like it would make an amazing pizza sauce…because I mean, hello, bacon!!!!

    I also had no idea you could cook bacon in the crockpot!!

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