Savory jams. From top, clockwise: tomato
jam, garlic jelly, onion jam and pepper jelly.
Photo by Hannah Kaminsky | THE NIBBLE.
Jam is a preserve of crushed whole fruit, boiled with sugar into a sweet spread. The use of jam to describe a food dates at least from the 1730s, and probably derives from the verb jam, which refers to something tightly pressing between two surfaces (in this case, referring to crushing the fruit).
Over the centuries, there have been jams based on vegetables: garlic, onion, tomato and more recently, bacon jam, often made by adding luscious bacon to an onion base. Caramelized onions or shallots are a chunkier form of onion jam.
Some jams are both sweet and savory. Pepper jelly, for example, adds bell peppers or hot chiles into a sweet base. Savory herbs—basil and rosemary, for example—can be combined with fruits to add a savory dimension.
House-made savory jam is trending at fine restaurants nationwide. It won’t appear on supermarket shelves any time soon, but look for them at specialty food stores, farmers markets and online. If you can’t find what you want, look for recipes and make your own savory jam.
Why pay attention to savory jam? Versatility, and an easy way to add flavor to numerous recipes. Savory jams work as general condiments, dips, glazes, spreads and thickening agents for sauces.
12+ WAYS TO USE SAVORY JAM
You can use savory jams to enliven food at every meal. Sure, you can spread them on toast; but you can also:
Add to the pan when sautéeing. Since the flavors of savory jam are so concentrated, only a teaspoon is needed. Try shrimp sautéed with tomato jam, garlic and a pinch of harissa.
Add to sauces, especially when deglazing a pan.
Serve as a meat condiment, an update of mint jelly.
Use as a burger or sandwich (including grilled cheese!) condiment instead of ketchup, mayonnaise or mustard.
Serve as a fish/seafood condiment (especially onion or garlic jam).
Make a jelly omelet.
Add to a vinaigrette (try pepper jelly).
Serve as a condiment with cheeses (especially saltier cheese) and charcuterie.
Create canapés, with bits of meat or vegetable (try tomato jam with roasted sweet potato rounds).
Make crostini appetizers or snacks.
Serve with grains.
Fold into mac and cheese (especially bacon jam!).
Combine with cream cheese, sour cream or Greek yogurt for a creamy spread or dip.
Dilute with vinegar or soy sauce into a dipping sauce.
Flavor And the Menu, a magazine for chefs, reports chefs using bacon-chile jam in a Brussels sprouts salad, for example, bacon marmalade crostini topped with blue cheese, tomato marmalade on a BLT, tomato-jalapeño jam on flatbread and savory tomato jam as a dip for fries.