Tomato Chili Jam

Die Tomatoes, Die!!
A photo of bottled Tomato Chili Jam.

As you may remember, I mentioned in my “Asparagus time” post what a good gardener Joerg is. Our tomato production is no exception to this rule and is something that has to be seen to be believed. Currently there are only little green bullets on the bushes, but soon I’ll be up to my eyeballs in tomatoes so I thought I’d start giving you some tomato recipes so that you to will be ready when the season really gets going. Last year was the weather year from hell as it rained almost non-stop and always at the wrong times and this was disastrous for the tomatoes. With tomato blight ravaging the country, there was not a single person in our state/department with tomatoes. We had hundreds.

Joerg was out there at the first sign of leaf curl or black spots. He stood them all to attention and gave them a good talking to. Not one of them ventured so much as a rustle. I was stood (to attention) right beside him, shearer in hand, and if even one of leaves was merely lowering its eyes for a nap in the midday sun, off came its head and it was burned at the stake. No Mercy was our policy.

Sometimes we would get in the car during siesta time and drive around sneaking looks at other people’s gardens, sympathizing at the sight of their mangy rotten tomatoes. Then we’d rush home and polish our forest of bright red beauties. But all this overabundance comes with a rabbits foot* in that it all needs to be processed and I just CAN’T let anything go to waste. I have hundreds of jars of tomato coulis, ratatouille, tomato chutney, tomato chilli jam, dried tomatoes… goes on and on. If it can be done to a tomato, I’ve probably done it. I think the only thing I have more recipes for than tomatoes, is zucchini (summer squash), but that’s for another post. (*In German, this means that the good fortune comes with a catch)

I swear our garden would be producing tomatoes in the dead of winter through 7 foot of snow if Joerg had his way. I’m out there going “Die you buggers, die!” and Joerg is behind me going, “She doesn’t mean it. Everything will be just fine.” He would knit them little jerseys and blow them hot kisses if I didn’t rip the bastards out at the end of autumn. As much as I love tomatoes, enough is enough. And Joerg doesn’t even love to eat them – he just loves to watch them grow! Men, is all I can say to that – can’t live with them, can’t eat them.

Last year I sowed lots of tomato seeds as did my mate Marieke and we ended up with a mere 115 tomato plants – just enough for a family of two…… So this year I have decided to be sensible and just because every seed one sows produces (at least) a plant, this does not mean you have to plant them all. Just put them on the compost. Crystal, I’m warning you, put down that seedling and step away from the garden!

Today we are starting off with a Tomato chilli jam recipe which is absolutely superb. I often take a jar to friends when we are invited over and everybody loves it. You can eat it with braaied (barbecued) meat or on veggies or baked potatoes. It’s a great condiment with just about anything! Another friend of ours, Nynke, makes a Tomato Chutney which is also divine and she served it with tortilla chips when we were over there last – a great variation instead of salsa. That recipe and other chutney recipes will follow along with more Nynke stories.


I don’t de-seed my chillies unless they are really too hot, but it’s entirely up to you as to how hot you want your final product to be. I have used other vinegar and I prefer to use the low end of the sugar quantity.

750g tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 chillies, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
Thumb size piece of ginger, grated or finely chopped
100ml red wine vinegar
200-300g sugar

1. Mix all the ingredients, bring to a boil and then simmer for 1 hour or until set. Pour into sterilized jars and close the lid securely. This will keep for months, but it does tend to get eaten quickly as it is so good!

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