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Jul 9, 2013 12:59 PM

Can I rescue this tomato jam?

I don't do canning-type jams (sterilizing jars, water bath, etc), but have had success with quick jams that will keep a few weeks in the fridge.

Made this tomato jam yesterday, and while the flavor is okay (overly sweet, but I could fix that next time), it didn't gel properly--it's a little thick, but still soupy. Any way I can reprocess it somehow? Here's the recipe:

2 1/4 lb tomatoes
1 box SureJell
4 1/2 c sugar
1 tsp lemon rind
3 Tbl lemon juice
1/2 tsp each: cloves, allspice, cinnamon

Scald tomatoes, remove skins, chop. Simmer 10 min., measure out 3 cups.
Mix SureJell w/ tomatoes in saucepan.
Add lemon juice and spices.
Bring to rolling boil, stirring constantly, boil 1 minute
Add sugar, bring back to boil for 1 more minute
Makes 2 pints.

I was skeptical about such brief cooking--is that the problem with the finished consistency?

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  1. Did you bring it to a full rolling boil and then set the timer for 1 minute? This is the classic SureJell technique, so maybe if it didn't gel it has something to do with the tomatoes. Were they really super ripe? Less ripe fruit usually gels better than over ripe fruit.

    There is a technique to re-cook jams or jellies that don't gel. I tried it once with Certo liquid pectin, I think the method was on the bottle.

    7 Replies
    1. re: dkenworthy

      Thanks--fished out the directions from the trash for the SureJell and there are instructions for SureDidn'tJell. Will try the re-process this morning (and yes, rolling boil for exactly 1 min.) Yes, the tomatoes were ripe, but not over-ripe. Just picked another 8 lbs. of tomatoes this morning, so I want to get this jammin' thing right! BTW, what do you think of reducing the sugar--couldn't find that Less Sugar SureJell that I read about, so unsure of the ratio problems, if any.

      Also have about 8 lbs. of home-grown peaches in the freezer that I want to quick-jam, too.

      1. re: pine time

        Well, gelling is a complex reaction between sugar, acid, and pectin. If you want to reduce the sugar, it is much more likely to succeed if you buy some low-sugar recipe pectin.

        I wonder if the culprit was low acid tomatoes if they weren't over ripe? Good luck!

        1. re: dkenworthy

          The acidity of the tomatoes can vary greatly from variety to variety, I'd suspect a lack of enough acid. You've got a lot of sugar there, but I suspect you may need more acid to make the conditions more enable for the pectin strands to tangle up and form a gel.

          1. re: ePressureCooker

            What do you think of adding a bit more lemon juice? The jam is sweeter than I'd like, so the extra lemon could cut that and add more acidity, too.

            1. re: pine time

              I would probably add some lemon segments, chopped up really finely, to add both acidity and pectin (just in case lack of pectin is a problem). I've never done tomato jam, but with regular jams, its my understanding that reheating will reduce both some of the sugar and some of the pectin, and there is more pectin in the membranes of the lemon than there is in the juice, so you probably want to get the membranes in there too, to help compensate for pectin loss.

              1. re: ePressureCooker

                how would reheating reduce the sugar? i don't know about the diminishing power of pectin, but that seems logical.

                1. re: alkapal

                  Reducing probably isn't the right word. I read that it breaks down the sugar more, which means it would break down into constituent parts, presumably fructose and glucose. I wish I remembered where I read that now, but at the moment its escaping me. Perhaps it'll hit me later...

    2. the indians make some lovely tomato-onion chutney you could transform this into….

      question for the expert jelly makers here: can an additional box or half of sure-jell be used?

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