We’re eating tomatoes with every meal and still the windowsills in our home are filled with the beautiful red bounty of summer. The tomato is one of the most versatile of vegetables because it’s fantastic raw, but it’s also a wonder for turning into a myriad of sauces and dishes.
As the counters and windowsills filled with tomatoes, I knew it was time to pull out the canner and begin making sauce. I’m not going to sugarcoat this process – it’s time-consuming and requires two people if you’re doing any amount at all of sauce. My husband and I love growing the vegetables and as hard as it is to do, we love preserving it as well. When I served a sampling of the sauce we’d created the other night, we both sighed in contentment at the flavors all provided by food we grew right outside our den door. Besides, if we weren’t making our own food, we’d probably just be sitting in front of the television. There’s plenty of time for that when the weather turns cold.
Here’s my recipe for pasta sauce. We made 12 quarts with the ingredients below:
2 1/2 bulbs of garlic, cloves peeled and crushed
5 large onions, chopped
6-8 sweet peppers (I used yellow and red because that’s all we had for this batch), chopped
10 hot peppers (jalapenos/cayenne) – we like some heat so this is a personal choice
2 cups fresh basil leaves (add any other Italian herb you have), chopped
1 cup of dried Italian herbs
1 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
35-45 tomatoes (the photo shows all that I used), skinned, squeezed and chopped)
We prepared all the ingredients except the tomatoes first. I put them in the pot and sauteed to meld flavors while we prepared the tomatoes.
We like heat in our sauce so we put in approximately ten hot peppers, mostly seeded. We started doing this a few years back when we had too many jalapenos and found that we love it this way.
Now the real work begins. To peel the skins easily, drop 4-5 tomatoes in a pot of boiling water for 30-45 seconds; then remove to ice water for the same amount of time. My husband then starts peeling and cutting out any bad spots on the tomatoes. He cuts each tomato into quarters and puts in a big bowl. I then begin a process that will help take out some liquid from the tomatoes. I’ve learned this is just the best way to do it. I pick up a handful of the quarters and squeeze out juice and seeds. Then I cut into smaller pieces and put in a sieve and press down, getting out more liquid. Then I throw the meat left into the pot. The sauce then simmers (with frequent stirs) for several hours.
I put the hot sauce in sterilized, hot canning jars (9 quarts and 1 pint) with a tablespoon of lemon juice in the bottom of each quart (about a tsp. for a pint). I still had sauce left, so I froze a container and kept back enough for us to sample. I processed in the rolling water bath for 50 minutes.
Next batch will be salsa!