Appalachia Preserving/Canning

Yellow Tomato Preserves

Yellow tomato preserves

I’ve heard of tomato preserves for years-but to be honest with you I couldn’t imagine wasting my straight from the garden ripe tomatoes on something we might not like. But this year-we’ve had the best crop of tomatoes we’ve ever had-in other words I’ve had so many I don’t know what to do with them all. (I believe the excellent seeds we used from Sow True Seeds had something to do with our stellar production)

I’ve canned tomatoes-made salsa and made soup. One day when I was wishing I had something different to try with the tomatoes sitting on my counter I remembered the recipes I’d seen for tomato preserves.

I thought well-if I can find a recipe in one of my Appalachian cookbooks then I’ll give it a try. My favorite cookbook-More Than Moonshine written by Sidney Saylor Farr-had a yellow tomato preserves recipe in it-which was perfect for the Cream and Sausage tomatoes sitting on my counter.

As I read Mrs. Farr’s recipe I realized I didn’t have 3 hours to let the preserves simmer-so I sorta came up with my own version of  her yellow tomato preserves.

Yellow tomato preserves from appalachia

You will need:

  • 8 cups of quartered yellow tomatoes (if the seeds bother you-you can take them out)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 lemon-slivered (try to add any juice from the lemon too-and of course remove the seeds)
  • 1/4 cup finely cut candied ginger
  • 4 cups sugar
  • jars-rings-taps

Recipe for tomato preserves

First put tomatoes, water, lemon, and ginger in a large pot and simmer for 25 minutes. Stir in a package of pectin (sure jel) and bring the mixture to a full rolling boil-boil for 1 minute.

Stir in sugar and bring mixture to a full rolling boil again-boil for one minute. Ladle preserves into sterilized jars and seal.

So were the tomato preserves good? Yes they were surprisingly good! They’re not overly sweet-and the lemon ginger combo gives them a unique flavor. Our favorite way to eat them so far-is with a smear of cream cheese on a cracker-but they’re not half bad on a piece of cornbread either.

Ever had tomato preserves?



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  • Reply
    Era Servis
    February 24, 2021 at 12:27 pm

    It’s a Chutney

  • Reply
    September 8, 2012 at 9:52 am

    Can’t wait to try this!
    My tomatoes haven’t done well this year. But I’ll be ready for next year!

  • Reply
    August 19, 2012 at 2:59 am

    Tomato preserves were my mom’s favorite! I’d try making some this year, but we only have 3 tomatoes on so far that are even getting ripe….still blooming and a few green ones…the weather has been so very very odd this year…I don’t even have any squash started and the eggplant has one baby one started and 7 other blossoms and 6 leaves…. only have about 6 carrots coming up out of a 1/2 package of seeds. Enough beets for two messes this year…sigh…and some herbs drying. Perhaps next year.

  • Reply
    August 14, 2012 at 9:18 am

    That sounds delicious! Yellow tomatoes are going on my list for next year.
    The only tomato preserve-type thing I’ve ever put up is green tomato chutney. Tried it one autumn when I was overrun with green tomatoes – already had loads of plants hanging upside down in the barn AND a box full of green tomatoes wrapped in newspaper in the pantry. Made a batch of green tomato chutney and at first the results didn’t seem worth the trouble, but discovered that after 6 months of aging, it was the best thing that ever happened to ham!

  • Reply
    Melissa P (Misplaced Southerner)
    August 14, 2012 at 7:18 am

    Oh boy! I am so looking forward to trying this. Although we did get some awful pretty plants this year, our relative lack of sun hours has made it so that we haven’t got a whole lot of ripe tomatoes yet. (We got a bumper crop of green ones though.) I’m gonna head to the farmers’ market so I can make this recipe. Absolutely adore yellow tomatoes. Really think they are less acid and I can eat more!

  • Reply
    August 14, 2012 at 6:10 am

    Jim-yes your description sounds exactly right! They are a sweeter tomato-and produce like crazy!
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia

  • Reply
    Leo at Cottage at the Crossroads
    August 14, 2012 at 5:20 am

    I’ve never heard of tomato preserves, but like you, we had a bumper crop of delicious tomatoes. We’re going to give this recipe a try and let you know. It kills me to see good tomatoes go to waste, but I’ve got a really rich compost pile this year. By the way, I put a fish under each tomato plant this year. If it was good enough for the American Indians, it’s good enough for us and it really works.

  • Reply
    August 13, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    B-I’m sure the acid from the lemon does help with preservation–plus the rind gives it a nice flavor too : )
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    August 13, 2012 at 6:35 pm

    Tipper–Like you, I’ve had a banner mater year. Of course the fact that I set out 144 plants might have had something to do with that. We’ve put them up a bunch of ways, but my favorite is homemade marinara sauce. Talk about giving pasta a college education, that sauce does it!
    Your cream and sausage tomatoes look a lot like some I got several years ago without knowing their name. They are very productive and shaped like Romas. Does that sound right?
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Patti Tappel
    August 13, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    Tomatoes are about the only crop that produced this year due to the drought. So I’ve made, salsa, juice, whole, diced, rotel, chili sauce, spagetti sauce and now I need to make soup!

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    August 13, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    Do you ever sterilize your jars in the microwave? I used 1/2 pints jars to can some okra. I put the jars in the microwave about 1/3 full of water and nuked them ’til the water boiled. Then I used the boiling water to scald the rings and caps. I’ll let you know if they come unsealed.

  • Reply
    August 13, 2012 at 11:59 am

    I’m glad you found something to do
    with those Cream and Sausage
    tomatoes. I’ve got to agree with
    you, they’re the producingest (?)
    things I ever saw. When you and
    the Deer Hunter gave me all them
    plants, I never thought I’d get
    foundered on so many, and big ones. Thank you so much!…Ken

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    August 13, 2012 at 11:47 am

    Tipper, thanks again for bringing the memories flooding back. My mother made a similar treat but we called it Tomato Butter as it was similar to Apple Butter but made with tomatoes instead of apples and required hours of simmering to blend the spices. The final product was great on a hot biscuit with fresh butter which may help explain my four heart attacks since I consumed more than my share. Sadly my Mother was like so many of the great cooks in our hills, her recipes were in her head and with her passing we lost not only her but a treasure trove of wonderful recipes. Thanks again for reviving the memories.

  • Reply
    August 13, 2012 at 10:44 am

    My mother always made tomato preserves (jelly) every summer. I loved it then and also now although I haven’t made or had any for a few years. We always used red tomatoes as we didn’t have yellow. When I have told others of this great jelly they can’t believe it so I usually gave them some I had made. Some people like and some hate it.

  • Reply
    B. ruth
    August 13, 2012 at 10:05 am

    I’ve never made tomato you I couldn’t bare parting with my tomatoes.
    For a different reason though, we just love tomatoes just as they are…for breakfast, dinner and supper..I love ginger so I think these preserves would be just the kick with cheese and crackers…
    Do you think the lemon was added to add more acid to the tomato for preservation?
    Thanks Tipper, great post..I do believe that jar of tomatoe preserves could win a prize at the county fair….yummmm!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    August 13, 2012 at 9:52 am

    I’ve never made tomato jam. I must say though that it sounds like a good idea and what’s not to like about ginger and lemon. I bet it would work really good to brush it on some chicken just before you bake it.
    Isn’t it fun to try new recipes like this…..old ideas made new.

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    August 13, 2012 at 9:36 am

    This is a new one for me, Tipper!
    I’ve never made nor tasted tomato preserves. But I plan to send the recipe to my “little” (younger) sister Janice who is always trying (successfully) new canning recipes. I’m sure she has some yellow tomatoes from her garden and will give this a try!
    Thank you!
    And I like the way you “alter” recipes! That’s typical of the mountain cooks who taught me how to cook! “A pinch of this, and a tea-cup-ful of that” was Aunt Northa’s favorite way of telling us how to do something she didn’t have a written recipe for; she cooked by looks, taste–and I think pure instinct! And what she cooked and canned always turned out well (Same with Aunt Ethel and Aunt Avery). They were all my surrogate mothers after my mother passed away, teaching me to cook, can, preserve, “put up” in general!

  • Reply
    Ron Perry
    August 13, 2012 at 9:33 am

    My wife’s mother couldn’t eat red tomatoes because the acid in the tomato would make her mouth break out. The yellow tomatoes didn’t do that so when she was alive we grew yellow tomatoes just for her. Personally, I prefer the nice red ones and this is a good year for tomatoes here in Maryand.

  • Reply
    Uncle Al
    August 13, 2012 at 9:30 am

    That is an interesting item for sure, but I still think I like my maters sliced. 🙂

  • Reply
    dolores barton
    August 13, 2012 at 9:06 am

    This sure looks good; I can’t remember the last time I ate a yellow tomato. I have shared it with an avid canner friend. He will have to let me know if he or his mom tries it. It sounds like it would be a great appetizer to share with friends. Thanks!

  • Reply
    August 13, 2012 at 8:38 am

    I have an abundance of yellow tomatoes also and was wondering what to do with them. I may just try this, it sounds pretty good!

  • Reply
    Bill Dotson
    August 13, 2012 at 7:23 am

    I really like tomato preserves but haven’t come up with a recipe in sugar free form. This has not been a good tomato for us but I have made some hot ketchup but not enough tomatoes for much else, we always had preserves Mom would make them out of any kind of tomato, don’t believe we even heard of these pear and cherry tomatoes then.

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