The interwebtubes is clogged with how to make tomato sauce recipes. I intend to clog it up some more.
In spite of a very weird growing season this year we ended up with boxes and boxes of tomatoes. I had to rush out and pick every single tomato in the green houses before night fall and get them into the house on account of an early hard freeze (15 degrees F). We had tomatoes piled up in the kitchen like stacks of green beans at the discount warehouse. Well, we had big plans for all these tomatoes, salsa, ketchup, BBQ sauce, you name it. After a quick inventory of our stash it was clear we needed more sauce than the rest of that stuff. Sauce it was, and is.
Now, everyone has their own way of doing this sauce business. Some like to skin and seed the tomatoes before cooking. I find that process tedious and time consuming. I’ve even seen the use of a Chinese strainer, I can’t spell its name but it sounds like shinwas. It’s a cone shaped strainer and you force the tomato goo through it with a pestle or wooden spoon or whatever you can get to work. I prefer the food mill to the rest simply because it’s easiest, and I’m all about easy.
Here’s how to do it. Quarter your tomatoes, skin and all, and throw them into a large pot. Mash them down with a potato masher and bring on the heat. You don’t want a hard boil, just a gentle burbling. Cook for two to three hours until the skins and innards are soft. Get one of these things, load it up over another pot and start turning until you have a paste. It has handy dandy “claws” to cling to the side of your pot so it doesn’t fall in, ruining your day. Discard the paste (compost?) and repeat.
Once you have milled your tomato glop you should have a skinless, seedless batch of watery tomato sauce. Now it’s time to reduce, reduce, reduce. Cook on low heat until you reach what you consider to be a proper tomato sauce. This can take anywhere from 3 to 6 hours depending on preference, stirring occasionally. Hey, you’ve got other chores you can do while it’s reducing, right? Lately, we have been reducing the sauce until it is goopy. Almost too thick. I find this concentrates the sugars and makes for a sweeter sauce. You can always add water when cooking if it is too thick. Now it’s time to “put it up.”
You can freeze the sauce in a ziptop bag or you can can it. For other stuff canning sometimes changes the character of the thing you canned. But canning seems to preserve tomato sauce pretty much the way it came out of the pot. Consult your canning guide for this. Around here, we fill quart or pint jars with the sauce adding a tablespoon of lemon juice per quart, teaspoon for pints to increase acidity and process in a water bath for 30 minutes. We are at 4000 feet give or take and I find the extra five minutes does the job for us. Elsewhere the recommendation is 25 minutes. Again, consult your canning guide.
There you have it. If you’ve never had home made tomato sauce on a cold January day your life is a miserable failure and it’s time to do something about it. Get on it!