It’s that time of year again! With the long, hot days of August stretching out before us, where nothing much will be growing in our gardens, it’s time to can all of those delicious summer tomatoes, of which you, hopefully, are fortunate enough to have amassed a bounty.
If your garden didn’t quite pan out this year — and it’s not an uncommon phenomenon, with all the rain we had early on (which can make tomato plants susceptible to early blight) — you can always take advantage of farmer’s market stocks, and some local farms offer bulk tomato sales this time of year.
Believe me, it’s totally worth it to have peak-of-freshness tomatoes put up for the long, tomato-less season to come. I speak from experience. Who doesn’t love a nice pasta bake with a hearty tomato sauce when it’s cold and rainy outside? Hard as it may be to believe, those days are coming — someday — so stock up!
Here’s an easy, versatile tomato sauce that you can either can or freeze. You can add herbs and spices to it to suit your taste when you’re ready to use it. The following instructions are for canning, but you can also stop after completing the sauce and ladle it into freezer jars or bags for freezer storage. If you freeze it, try using freezer bags laid flat, as I like to do, for space-saving and quick-thawing reasons. Enjoy!
Simple Tomato Sauce
Adapted from a recipe from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving
10 lbs tomatoes*
2 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp saltlemon juice
Prepare your canner, jars, and lids. Core and quarter 5 tomatoes. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large stock pot. Add the quartered tomatoes, crushing with the back of a spoon or a potato masher to release juices. Continue coring and quartering tomatoes and adding them to the pot, making sure the mixture continues to boil rapidly, until all of the tomatoes are in the pot. Stir well and simmer for an additional 10 minutes.
Remove the tomatoes from the heat and cool slightly. Process through a food mill in batches to remove skins, and return to the pot. Bring to a boil, and simmer until the sauce is reduced by half.
Meanwhile, prepare your canner, jars, and lids.** Add 1 Tbs lemon juice to each of 4 jars. Ladle the sauce into warm jars using a funnel, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Wipe the rim and secure the lid, turning to fingertip tight. Process the jars for 35 minutes in a boiling water canner.
* Ideally, you’d use San Marzano or another Roma variety, which are perfect for sauces, but any tomatoes will work (though you may have to adjust the simmer time to get the desired consistency). A mix of heirloom tomatoes, if you happen to find yourself with a glut of them, will also make a lovely sauce.
** All should be sterilized before starting the canning process, either by boiling for 10-15 minutes, or running through the dishwasher (if you have a sterilizing cycle). Fill your jars with hot water so that they are the same temperature as the sauce you’ll be pouring into them, and keep the lids warm in a pan of hot water.
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.livemom.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/lauren.jpg[/author_image] [author_info] Lauren Walz is a freelance writer and editor and mama to a two-year-old girl. While she’s quick to brag about being a fifth-generation Texan, Lauren moved to Northern California in 2004 after graduating from UT Law and lived in the Silicon Valley area until last spring, when she and her family were drawn back to Austin. Lauren is busy getting re-acquainted with her old stomping grounds and is astonished by how the food and wine scene has changed in Austin in the past 8 years. Lauren also blogs about cooking and parenthood on gourmetveggiemama.com.[/author_info] [/author]