May 11, 2010

Homemade Tomato Sauce

So my friends, this is post is long overdue, and I can only chalk that up to having vacation-head for the past couple weeks.  Matt and I just got back from a vacation to Spain, which I will totally dedicate another post to because it was phenomenal.  Though we've been back a week, it has taken some time to get back into the routine and find my blogging voice again.

Since we're already half-way through the month I'm just going to work from my own journal this month and create meals, and treats as days go by. I'll try to blog my way through the month as much as possible.  In the mean time I wanted to be sure and post this fantastic tomato sauce recipe.  For those of you in the southern hemisphere, this might be perfect timing. For the rest of us up north, stash this one away for a few months until the tomatoes are fresh and overflowing from all the markets. 

This recipe comes from the life-changing (at least for me) book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver.  I've been a Kingsolver fan for years and have probably read all of her books at least once.  I think I was pretty in the dark a couple years ago when I picked this one up in terms of how life changing it would be.  Assuming it was just another good story, I dove into the book.  It was a good story, one of her best I would say.  And it was so much more.  I remember re-reading sections and fantasizing having a farm of my own one day.  For me this book brought to life this way of life that I had glimpses of before and yet hadn't put it all together yet in my mind.  Local, sustainable, following the seasons, eating what you all just made sense.

Though there are recipes sprinkled throughout as Kingsolver walks us through the seasons, this is the first one I've tried.

Because I decided to can the tomato sauce I stuck very closely to the original recipe (for acidic reasons), however if your freezing or cutting the recipe way back you have a lot more room to experiment.

Family Secret Tomato Sauce
from Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

10 quarts tomato puree (about 30 pounds of tomatoes - I had 29 and a half!)
4 large onions, chopped
1 cup dried basil
1/2 cup honey
4 tablespoons dried oregano
3 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons ground dried lemon peel (I zested enough lemons to make 2 T, but did not dry them before using)
2 tablespoons thyme
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons dried parsley
2 teaspoons pepper
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
bottled lemon juice or citric acid if canning (this is not optional for the canning process)

Soften onions in a heave 3-gallon kettle - add a small amount of water if necessary (no oil if canning, this is very important).  Add pureed tomatoes (mine were skinned and mashed up as they went into the pot) and all the seasonings, bring to a boil, and simmer on low heat for two to three hours until sauce has thickened as desired.  Stir frequently, especially toward the end, to avoid burning.

If canning continue with the directions below. If not, let cool and spoon into freezer bags for storage.

Meanwhile, if you have a separate canning pot, heat water to boiling to sterilize jars, and pour boiling water over jar lids.  I washed the jars well and dried them separately, as I don't have another large pot. Running the jars through the dishwasher would also work.  (If you've never canned before, I'd recommend reading a quick review of the canning process, as this can be tricky the first time around).

Add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice OR 1/2 teaspoon citric acid to each quart jar (half that much to pint jars). This ensures that the sauce will be safely acidic. When the sauce is ready, ladle it into the jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Cap jars, lower gently into canner and boil for 35 minutes. Remove, cool, check all seals, and store.

We have already enjoyed this sauce on pasta, pizza and bruschetta, all to rave reviews.  Though it looks like a lot of work if you have a lot of tomatoes I definitely recommend trying it.

Stats: Made 5 quarts and 2 pints of sauce
Time: 4-5 hours from start to finish, but not all of that is active time
Seasonal Ingredients: I used tomatoes that I had picked last September, however the onions and lemons were fresh from the farmers' market.

Happy canning,


BobBlesse said...

This sounds wonderful! I'm looking forward to trying it this summer when tomatoes are ready for canning. Last year I made sauce from about sixty lbs. of tomatoes using a recipe from an article by Georgeanne Brennen in the SF Chronicle.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is a wonderful book; my wife and I have tried several of the receipes in the book and from Barbara Kingsolver's website for the book,

Looking forward to hearing about Spain.

Alison Clayshulte said...

Hi BobBlesse,
So excited that your going to try the recipe. I'll have to try some of the other recipes from AVM, and check out the website. Thanks for the info.

Steph Bond @ Bondville said...

Welcome back guys! we missed you. *just* past tomato season for us too here. But I'll be keeping this recipe for sure, looks amazing. Love a good excess tomato recipe. I'll send you my favourite non-cook tomato stew recipe :)

Alison Clayshulte said...

Steph - Yes, please do send along your tomato stew recipe. I have 8 tomato plants in pots on the deck so will be looking for lots of new ideas come fall.