Gift and Bacon

Bacon Jam: Maybe the Best Homemade Gift Ever

When the holiday season arrives, the best gifts just might be from your kitchen. And when those gifts are extra decadent, well that just makes them even better.

 

A couple of years ago I got the crazy idea to take my homemade gifts of food beyond cookies, cakes and pure vanilla extract to bacon. Seriously. More specifically Bacon Jam.

Yes! And I have to say that with all the challenges you’ll discover as you read to the end, Bacon Jam is quite possibly the best holiday gift ever. I say that because it’s what local friends and family clamor for.

ingredients for bacon onion jam

Bacon Jam

(Printable recipe card below)

  • 1 1/2 pounds sliced bacon, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces (note 1)
  • 2 large yellow onions, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 3/4 cup strong brewed coffee
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar (note 3)
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar, more or less to taste
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup (the real deal, please)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste

Note 1: I’ve tested substituting bacon crumbles for bacon and wasn’t thrilled with the result. Your results may vary, which means crumbles are certainly an option.

Note 2: May substitute apple cider vinegar for all or part of the balsamic vinegar, which is what I do now after considering my own taste and feedback from my recipients. However, either will give you great results.

Bacon and Gift

The first step is to cut the bacon crosswise into one-inch pieces and cook them in a large skillet, stirring occasionally until the fat is rendered and the bacon is lightly browned about 20 minutes.

A bowl of food sitting on a pan, with Bacon

Carefully transfer bacon to a sieve so the fat can drain off. Reserve one tablespoon of the bacon fat.

A bowl of food on a metal pan on a stove, with Bacon and Gift

Chop two large onions. Add the tablespoon of bacon fat, chopped onions, and garlic to the hot skillet. Allow this to cook until the onions are translucent, about 7 minutes.

A bowl of rice on a plate, with Gift and Brown sugar

Add the strong brewed coffee, balsamic (or apple cider—see note 3) vinegar, brown sugar, sea salt, and maple syrup and bring to a boil; cook stirring and scraping up any browned bits from the skillet, for about 2 minutes.

A bowl of soup sitting on top of a pan on a stove, with Bacon jam

Add the cooled bacon, stir to combine, reduce the heat to a bare simmer and cook uncovered, until the liquid is almost completely evaporated and turns syrupy.

Or, transfer to slow cooker and cook on High for 3 to 4 hours; Low for 6 to 7 hours.

A close up of a glass bowl, with Bacon and Jam

Once this bacon concoction has cooled slightly, hit it with an immersion blender (transferring to a food processor then pulsing until coarsely chopped works as well) and pulse just to smooth it out a bit—relish consistency.

Spoon into sterilized jars.

Bacon jam

I opted for these Bormioli Rocco Quattro Stagioni 8.5 oz jars with lids from Italy because they have a classy flair for a lovely presentation. But any small glass jars with lids will do

As for the yield, I can fill four of these jars with one recipe of Bacon Jam, or about 4 cups.

The recipe doubles well but will take a longer cooking time for it to thicken.

Gift and Bacon jam

I add labels and tie tags to the jars with twine. So cute.

 

Bacon and Gift

 

Bacon and Gift

 

 

Bacon jam and Jar

 

How to Use Bacon Jam

Serve Bacon Jam on crostini …

A close up of food, with Bacon jam

… on eggs, meatloaf, sandwiches, and potatoes. Wow.

A close up of food on a plate, with Bacon jam

Bacon Jam is especially satisfying straight out of the jar, too

Bacon jam

There’s just something about bacon.

Store Bacon Jam in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks, and in the freezer up to 6 months.

Gifts of Bacon Jam

My original plan was to make Bacon Jam well in advance for Christmas gifts. I’d can these jars, using the traditional water bath method. This would allow me to make the Bacon Jam months ahead, and have it ready to be mailed come December. But further research nixed that idea.

Here’s the deal: It is safe to can fruit jams and fruits of all kinds in the traditional way because those items are acidic. Meat, however, is not. Bacon is meat. Traditional water bath canning is not sufficient to keep meat products preserved and safe for human consumption unless it is refrigerated continuously. Even though heat-sealed, it must be refrigerated before and after opening.

Another method, pressure canning, requires a special stovetop pressure cooker and a more sophisticated method of canning and beyond my comfort level. Electric pressure cookers are not sufficient for canning meats because the temperature does not get high enough.

Bottom line

Even if vacuum-sealed in a Mason jar or pressure canned in the traditional water bath method, Bacon Jam must be refrigerated. Period. That precludes sending it through the mail, no matter how well it is packaged.

Bacon Jam is a great gift to be given as soon a possible, to be given locally, and when the label clearly states that it must be refrigerated.

Print Recipe Pin Recipe
5 from 3 votes

Bacon Jam

Could there be any other flavors that go together more perfectly? 
Prep Time45 minutes
Cook Time2 hours
Course: Condiment
Cuisine: American
Servings: 24 servings (or about 3-4 cups)
Calories: 291kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pound sliced bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 medium yellow onions, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 3/4 cup strong brewed coffee
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar OR balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp molasses
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste.

Instructions

  • The first step is to cut the bacon crosswise into one-inch pieces and cook them in a large skillet, stirring occasionally until the fat is rendered and the bacon is lightly browned about 20 minutes.
  • Carefully transfer bacon to a sieve so the fat can drain off. Reserve one tablespoon of the bacon fat.
  • Chop two large onions. Add the tablespoon of bacon fat, chopped onions, and garlic to the hot skillet. Allow this to cook until the onions are translucent, about 7 minutes.
  • Add the strong brewed coffee, balsamic (or apple cider —see note 2) vinegar, brown sugar, sea salt, molasses, and maple syrup and bring to a boil; cook stirring and scraping up any browned bits from the skillet, for about 2 minutes.
  • Add the cooled bacon, stir to combine, reduce the heat to a bare simmer and cook uncovered, until the liquid is almost completely evaporated and turns syrupy, about 2 hours. OR transfer to slow cooker and cook on High for 3 to 4 hours; Low for 6 to 7 hours.
  • Once this bacon concoction has cooled slightly, hit it with an immersion blender (transferring to a food processor then pulsing until coarsely chopped works as well) and pulse just to smooth it out a bit—relish consistency.
  • Spoon into sterilized jars.

Notes

Note 1: I’ve tested substituting bacon crumbles for bacon and wasn’t thrilled with the result. Your results may vary, which means crumbles are certainly an option.
Note 2: May substitute apple cider vinegar for all or part of the balsamic vinegar, which is what I do now after considering my own taste and feedback from my recipients. However, either will give you great results.
Note 3: Tag text for gifting:Put on anything like toast eggs pancakes sandwiches crackers bread potatoes burgers waffles steak meatloaf—anything and everything you can think of or just eat straight out of the jar. Best served warm. Just heat and eat! Keep refrigerated and use within 2 weeks.

Nutrition

Calories: 291kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 28g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 27mg | Sodium: 142mg | Potassium: 60mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 14mg | Iron: 1mg
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32 replies
« Older Comments
  1. Sharon says:

    Thank you for putting the nutrition information on the recipe! I have to track a lot of nutrients and that really helps.
    I never knew what was in bacon jam, so that was very educational too! I bet it would be good poured over a block of cream cheese and served with crackers. Someone gave me a recipe years ago for using spicy jellies that way and it really enhances the ingredients.

    Reply
  2. Rae Holton says:

    I’m allergic to molasses, even opening the bottle in the same room will make me faint. Any suggestion of what I can substitute since this jam sounds amazing@

    Reply
  3. Help bacon jam says:

    I am coming up to the 2 hr mark and my jam is not syrupy or thickening. Any advice. Also on my next try does the slow cooker work better? Would you cover slow cooker?
    Thanks Mary I love your daily emails. You do a great service

    Reply
    • Mary Hunt says:

      I’d take it off the heat and let it cool … it will thicken. I wouldn’t try this in slowcooker unless you leave off the lid. But I’ve not tried it. Let us know if you do, and your result

      Reply
      • Jane says:

        I tried the slow cooker route…and after adding several hours to the cooking time, and it still wasn’t thickening, thought I’d look at comments to see if anyone else had the same issue. I do so wish it was specified in the original recipe to leave the lid off if using this method!!. It makes sense now. I may try this recipe again, but probably not for this Christmas!

  4. Mary Jo Grube says:

    If you wanted to give as a Christmas gift and it only has a two week shelf life you’d almost have to make it and give it on Christmas Eve! Doesn’t see very practical..:

    Reply
    • Mary Hunt says:

      I suppose you are right if you are one to get Christmas done up months in advance. Then there is the rest of us! I’ve tested freezing jars of bacon jam and I was quite impressed with the outcome.

      Reply
  5. Mary says:

    5 stars
    When I told my hubby that I was making bacon jam, he was skeptical. When finished, he and everyone else that tried it loved it!

    Reply
  6. Maria says:

    I’m planning to make this, Mary and was wondering how many jars do I need to prepare to fill?
    Thanks!
    Holiday blessing to you and yours.
    love,
    Maria

    Reply
    • Mary Hunt says:

      Hi Maria … The recipe makes about 3 cups give or take (depending on how long you cook it down). So it depends on the size jars you wish to fill.

      Reply
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