Green Tomato Jam

Yield: About three 8 oz. mason jars
Prep Time: 25-30 minutes
Cook Time: 45-50 minutes
Difficulty: Easy to Medium

This was one of the first things I made when moving back to California after a miserable nine months living in Washington, D.C. Seeing the last of the summer’s tomatoes in my parents’ garden, I wanted to make a quintessential California dessert that reminded me of all things “home.”

Growing a luscious tomato in your summer garden can be arguably one of the most satisfying sights to see. However the moment the temperature drops, it’s often difficult for a tomato plant to ripen to perfection in the way that it deserves. This recipe will have you as excited to see green tomatoes as you are when seeing juicy reds.

Not to be confused with tomatillos, green tomatoes are hard and unripened tomatoes that don’t fully reach their peak. With the essence of tomato, they are mildly tart and easily manipulated.

Initially made for thumbprint cookies, I finish them with a dusting of Vietnamese cinnamon, chile quebrado, and a pinch more of kosher salt.

Get creative and try this green tomato jam as a garnish over savory french toast, or reduce cooking time to drizzle over crisp cornmeal pancakes. Much preferred over turning your green tomatoes into compost!


1 ½ pounds green tomatoes, thoroughly cleaned and roughly chopped
1 cup raw cane sugar
Scrapings of 1 vanilla bean pod
2-3 cinnamon sticks
Zest of 1 ripened, medium orange (remove in large pieces without any white pith)
Juice of the orange (about 1/4 cup)
1 teaspoon crushed chili flakes
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Ground cinnamon and extra crushed chili flakes for garnish


    1. Preheat oven to 275F. Sterilize glass jars with mild soap and warm water. Rinse and dry well, then transfer to oven to keep warm.
    2. In a medium sauce pan, combine green tomatoes, sugar, vanilla beans, cinnamon sticks, orange zest and juice.
    3. Stir well and bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce to a simmer on low heat. Occasionally stir mixture so that jam doesn’t burn.
    4. Jam will be ready when it has reduced in volume and thickened considerably, between 45-50 minutes. It should appear slightly amber and no longer bright green.
    5. Remove from heat, and carefully discard cinnamon sticks and orange zest. Add chili flakes and salt, and mix well.
    6. While still hot, ladle jam into warmed jars and cool at room temperature uncovered.
    7. When completely cool, seal with lids and clearly label jars with the date. Use immediately or store in your refrigerator for up to three weeks.


Additional Notes:

  • Any type of homegrown or store-bought tomatoes may be used in place of green, but sugar should be adjusted when using a sweeter batch of fruit.
  • When mixing with a silicon spatula or wooden spoon, jam should stick and not drip loosely when finished.
  • Based on your aesthetic, you may keep or remove cinnamon sticks and orange zest before storing. Orange zest will become candied and edible.
  • Do not add hot jam to cold glass jars to avoid glass breaking.
  • When using organic and/or homegrown fruits, be wary of jams spoiling quicker than store-bought. Always check for mold before consuming. Discard in its entirety when discovering any mold.