One of last week’s Bountiful Basket add-on packs was 25 lbs of Roma tomatoes. Who could pass that up? Not this gal. I ordered them, along with an Italian pack on top of my regular basket. I think I under-estimated how many tomatoes that really was.
That’s a lot of tomatoes. What does one do with so many red jewels? Well I don’t know about the rest of the world, but this Italian girl makes sauce! I found a tried and true recipe on Pinterest. Unless you are a canning expert, never home-can your own recipes. The pH balance has to be *just* right or you can become seriously ill. Botulism is nasty and you don’t want to mess with it. So, as a rule- always use a recipe specifically made for canning. Now onto the saucy goodness!
First step in sauce making? Peel the tomatoes. You could do this with a vegetable peeler, but the easiest way is to blanch them in boiling water for about 30 seconds, then plunge them into ice water. The skin will slip right off. It’s like peeling the worlds grossest sunburn. Slimy yet satisfying! Sometimes, you get a thick-skinned tomato that requires a bit of coercing, but for the most part they won’t give you much trouble. This is how they look after they’ve been skinned.
Next, I needed to prep! I cut the stem end off and sliced the tomatoes into quarters. They went into a BIG pot. Actually, there were too many tomatoes for my biggest stockpot, so I had to split the batch up a bit.
After those were in, I put in garlic, onions, bell pepper, tomato paste, a ton of fresh herbs, some spices, and a bit of Worcestershire sauce.
That’s the second pot. It’s downright festive, with the red tomatoes and green herbs. Once the tomatoes cooked down a bit, I combined the pots. The heat got low, the timer was set, I lit some candles, poured a glass of wine… Ahem. The house smelled amazing at this point and I kind of wanted to make love to this pot of simmering heaven. But I didn’t. I let it simmer for most of the day and then took my immersion (stick) blender to it, just to break up the remaining big chunks. I tasted it. It was a bit too acidic-tasting to me, so I added a bit of sugar and let it reduce further. Two hours later and the flavor was spot on. Time to can!
After properly prepping the jars, I ladled this gorgeous stuff into quart jars. I put them in the canner, set the timer for 30 minutes, and let it boil away. I had to do it in two batches, since I have a small canner. This recipe made a little under nine quarts. I didn’t have enough to fill the last jar fully, so I fed it to my family and put the rest in the fridge. The rest of the jars got a nice, long sit on the counter. They all sealed properly, so the rings were removed and they were put up in my canning stash.
Verdict? VERY time consuming, but worth it. For Under $30 (including jars), I made 9 quarts of homemade spaghetti sauce. Considering I spend upwards of $5 for a jar at the store, this is a decent savings. Now that I have a good collection of jars, the cost of the batch will go down quite a bit. Also, I think I’ll split the tomatoes and use half Roma, half beefsteak next time. I think that will help improve the taste and cut the acid a bit. This is definitely something Ill make again before the tomato season is over. I need something to help me through the cold, bland winter!