We are switching things up a bit from our latest pickling posts. Last week, we made our first batch of tomato sauce.
There is something about homemade tomato sauce, so pure and simple. It makes the kitchen feel old school and homey. Putting food away has become the latest way Ryan and I spend time together and chat or put on the next episode of whatever show we are currently binge watching. All the while, we are dreaming and squirreling food away for a rainy day.
As if the ordeal wasn’t sweet enough, when you can your own goods (tomatoes particularly) you eliminate BPA store bought canned tomatoes contain (it’s not just the plastics you have to look out for). Oh the joys of knowing the life of your food and avoiding harmful chemicals.
Before getting started, the one thing I would say about the process of making tomato sauce versus pickling; tomato sauce takes a bit longer…. and it’s a bit more of a mess. (I guess I have more than one thing to say.)
Classic tomato sauce for canning
(Please excuse the leaf on the middle bottom tomato. It is driving me crazy.)
15 pounds ripe tomatoes
¼ or ½ cup lemon juice
2 tsp salt (this is optional)
Just before diving into tomato madness, we got a large sauce pan of water boiling (6 ½ quart) and filled a decent sized bowl with ice water (set next to the stove). Now things are about to get messy.
Ryan cored out the stems and sliced a “X” on the bottom of the tomatoes. In rounds of about 5-6, drop tomatoes into the boiling water. Cook for 45 – 60 seconds, or until the tomato skin starts to wrinkle and split.
Quickly, the fruit was removed using a slotted spoon and gently dropped into the ice water. We left them in the ice water until cool to the touch before they were moved to another bowl to finish cooling. When all the tomatoes were processed it was time to skin ’em. Use your hands or a small knife to strip the skin from the tomatoes and discard (compost).
We peeled tomatoes in a separate bowl and slightly mashed them with a wooden spoon. For a thinner smoother sauce, use a mixer or food processor to puree until it is very smooth. Once the tomatoes were at the consistency we desired, the tomatoes were poured into a sauce pan to cook. The sauce was brought to a simmer over medium heat. Cook for 30 – 90 minutes, stirring occasionally and using a spoon to break up the larger chunks. When the sauce reaches thickness you prefer, it’s ready.
After the sauce finished cooking, lemon juice was added. We juiced two smaller lemons and got about 1/3 cup of lemon juice. This was a better way for us to save money and avoid chemicals in some lemon juices at the store.
Stir the lemon juice in and you are all done. With the sauce ready, we were ready to can.
We prepared our mason jars and lids for canning by sterilizing in a water bath. Then, we funneled the sauce into the jars and wiped the rims clean. After placing the lids on and tightening finger tight, we placed the jars in a medium pot filled with water. After bringing the water to a boil, let them process for 30 minutes. When time was up, we pulled them out of the water with our jar lifter. We set them out to cool and ,of course, awaited the ‘pop’ of the seal. When we are ready to use this simple and versatile sauce, we will be able to add whatever spices are needed for that specific dish.
Have I mentioned the pure joy that washes over me when opening my own homemade goods? And as usual, I’m all eager to dive in.