Cooking, Canning, Gardening
I was thinking about what to write about the other day and decided on a day spent with my husband fixing fence. Well, he would have none of that and it's probably for the best. One of us would have probably been in jail. Anyone that lives on a farm or ranch and tries to work with their spouse knows what I am talking about. So, we will leave that topic alone and go on to something much more exciting; tomato sauce! Not just tomato sauce but fresh tomato sauce. Nearly everything from my garden. The only thing I did not grow was the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and sugar. Every other ingredient came from my back yard and nothing could be better. So here we go. First you start with about 20 lbs of fresh tomatoes. Some people say you need to use the plum tomatoes and they may be true, but I like to mix them up and use a variety of types. Basically, if I grow it, it goes into my sauce.
The first thing you need to do is peel these babies. That is done by dipping them in boiling water for a minute or so and then putting them in ice cold water. I core them and the skins just slide off. While doing this check for any bad spots and remove them also. You want only the best quality for your sauce.
You can see in this picture the skins starting to crack and pull away from the tomato. This means it is ready to go to the cold water.
The tomato peeled and cored is now ready to go into the food processor to be chopped up. Save the skin and core for dehydrating and making a powder for flavoring other foods.
How chunky you want your sauce depends on how long you let it process. Simply a personal preference. I like mine pretty smooth.
Next come the fresh herbs. I use sweet basil and oregano. These also go to the food processor for chopping.
While you are getting everything ready, it is a good idea to also be getting your jars ready. I put mine in the dishwasher on the sanitize cycle and let them wash while I am cooking the sauce. You want your jars to be hot when you are filling them or they will crack.
The lids also have to be sterile. I usually boil them for 10 - 15 minutes right before I need them. Again, they need to be hot when you put them on the jars. The rims don't need to be sterile, but do need to be free from rust and dings.
Here is the completed sauce cooking down. To the tomatoes, peppers, onions and herbs I added sugar, salt, lemon juice and olive oil. The complete recipe will follow at the end.
While the sauce is cooking, I also get the pressure cooker ready. I have a All American and I cannot say enough about it. Make sure that you put the tray in the bottom and fill with about 3" of water. This tray keeps your jars off of the bottom of the cooker and allows water to circulate under the jars.
The rest of your prep includes having a clean area to fill the jars with a funnel to reduce the spills. I like to put everything on a clean towel and my hot pan close by on a cutting board. It is very hot!
Fill the jars leaving about and inch of head space. Wipe the rims with the clean towel and place a lid on them. Hand tighten the metal band on and you are ready to place in the pressure canner.
The finished product after processing for 25 minutes at 15 lbs. The poundage depends on the altitude where you live. Consult your product manual for the correct time and pressure to process. This sauce is great as a base for soup, stews and also to use on pasta. You can thicken to your liking by adding tomato paste. I prefer to use as it is, as I find it thick enough for what I need. We love it as the base sauce for lasagna.
Fresh Tomato Sauce
20 pounds of fresh tomatoes
8 green peppers
4 jalapeno peppers (optional)
4 lg onions
8 cloves garlic
2 Tbls salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup lemon juice
Large bunch of basil (1 cup ground up)
Fresh oregano (1/2 cup ground up)
1/2 cup olive oil
Grind up everything in the food processor after peeling tomatoes and cleaning seeds from the peppers, and skins from the onions and garlic.
Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Stir frequently. Let boil for 1 - 2 hours depending on how thick you want it. Add to clean hot canning jars and process according to your products recommendations. Makes 9 -10 quarts. Can be divided down to make less but I prefer to get as much as I can as it is a job getting everything ready.
Don't forget to dry the peelings and cores if you have a dehydrator. Makes a great powder for flavoring.