Saturday, November 5, 2011

A Tomato Tale

Last weekend I accomplished one of the things on my list that I have wanted to try, make and "put up" as they say, tomato sauce. I'm sure that this blog will just be riveting to read so here goes!

First stop - Bailey's Farmers Market on Davis Highway in Pensacola, Florida.

The tomatoes there are very good although not organic. Since I bought 15 pounds of tomatoes and had never canned tomato sauce before, I'm good. I also bought 2 pounds of sweet Peruvian onions here. Speaking of Peru, I'll have to write a blog soon regarding my 83 year old father's 30 plus mission trips to Chimbote, Peru at another time. He is actually there now as I type this but back to tomato sauce.

(My friend Linda from Elberta, Alabama will very likely find all these firsts of mine regarding canning very amusing but I'm a late kitchen bloomer)

I blanched the tomatoes which was fascinating to me how quickly the skins fell off. 10-20 seconds in boiling water then out of the boil into the ice water. I did not remove the seeds - I saw some recipes that said to remove the seeds so that you won't have to cook it so long but I don't get that - I did not do that and I'm glad.

RECIPE - MAKES 6-8 Quarts
Tomatoes - remove skin -   15 Lbs
Onions - 2 Lbs diced
Olive Oil - 1/2 cup
Salt - 3 tablespoons
Pepper - 1 tablespoon
Red Wine (optional) - 1 bottle (75 cl.) *
Herbs - (oregano, rosemary or basil) - 2 cups**
Garlic - 6 cloves
Lemon Juice - 1/2 cup***
(Dinner recipe below)

1. Blanch and peel tomatoes
2. Coarsely chop them and put them in a bowl.
3. Chop onions and garlic - saute until translucent in olive oil.
4. Add tomatoes
5. Stir well and bring the entire pot to an even slow simmer.
6. Simmer until reduced by 1/3 - ( the recipe said 2 hours, it was more like 6 hours )
7. Add lemon juice, simmer 5 minutes and immediately can so have your jars ready.

Dinner Recipe:
Tomatoes - remove skin -   6 Large Whole
Onions - 1/2 diced
Olive Oil - 1 tablespoon
Salt - 3 tablespoons
Pepper - 1 teaspoon
Red Wine (optional) - 1/2 cup
Herbs - (oregano, rosemary or basil) - 1/4 cup
Garlic - 1 clove

Grow your own basil. Basil is very easy to grow. I always have some growing in my window sill. The worst thing about having it is that you have to periodically spray a little bit of soapy water on it to keep these annoying little white flies from having a hang out joint - but being able to grab some fresh herbs  at any time to use is important to really making a serious effort to cook with fresh herbs. When I had my business, Photo Arts and I would talk to customers about storing their old photos and documents safely, the first thing I would tell them was to have a place in your house you can take those boxes out of the closet and put them on a table and LEAVE THEM because you will never complete the task unless you do - too large and on-going. The same is true of using fresh herbs - have them on hand and growing. How many times have you bought fresh herbs in the grocery store with a rush of inspiration only to have them turn bad in the frig?  Basil, parsley, thyme, rosemary - I have those growing now  plus sage, dill and tarragon. I have grown sweet marjoram before and miss having it on hand.

The sauce was absolutely delicious - but time consuming and while it was simmering and I was researching more on the canning side of this, I found out some things about canning this type product that made me a bit concerned. It seems that tomatoes can be quite tricky to make sure that they are safe for long term storage. I'll put a link at the bottom of this page if your interested in reading about that. (You can't click on the link because I STILL can't figure out how to add an active link to these posts)
I put the remaining jars of sauce I did not use in the refrigerator because the article made me a bit nervous, although I followed the instructions. Conclusion? Next time I think I will make a big batch for that day and more to freeze for another day. I really like the idea of eliminating extra ingredients in the food I eat and this project was very rewarding in learning something new. Although I enjoyed the project very much, I don't think I will can sauce again. If anyone has more info or experience on this and the safety of canning tomatoes/tomato sauce, (Linda?) please comment below.

* If your concerned about consuming alcohol

Preparation MethodPercent of Alcohol Retained
alcohol added to boiling liquid & removed from heat85%
alcohol flamed75%
no heat, stored overnight70%
baked, 25 minutes, alcohol not stirred into mixture45%
baked/simmered, alcohol stirred into mixture:
  • 15 minutes
  • 30 minutes
  • 1 hour
  • 1.5 hours
  • 2 hours
  • 2.5 hours

**  I used basil. I have never had a tomato sauce made with rosemary, and I really don't like oregano all that much - it can overpower a recipe, so I used basil and would even add a bit more than 2 cups next time.


Why Add Lemon Juice to Tomatoes and Salsa Before Canning ...

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