Monday, October 25, 2010

Spaghetti Sauce - Batch #1

Another first!

My first batch of homemade spaghetti sauce! I ended up with 3 pints to put away for another day. I merged a couple of online recipes and came up with the following.
This is only batch #1 so it may evolve.

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce
  • 40 - 50 tomatoes - mostly Romas from the backyard
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, chopped (probably more next time)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 2 - 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small can of tomato paste
  • 10 - 12 basil leaves, finely chopped (also from the backyard)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Italian herb mix
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon parsley
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • pinch of sugar
  • 1/4 cup red wine (a 2007 Christopher Creek Cab from the cellar)
I washed and dried the tomatoes and then put them through the food mill. I got the sauce boiling so that it began to cook down and added the bay leaves, salt, and sugar. Meanwhile, I chopped up all the other ingredients. In a 12" skillet, I sauteed the onions for a few minutes, added the garlic, and then the bell pepper. Added in the herbs and seasonings. I waited until the sauce was about an hour or two away from being done and then added the onion/pepper mixture from the skillet. Add the tomato paste and let it cook down until desired consistency. Discard bay leaves. Add sauce to sterilized jars.


Monday, October 11, 2010

Tomato Sauce, Part 2

With so much produce coming from the backyard, I have wanted to learn how to can for a few years now. I bookmarked this helpful site along with some others to help me learn the process. I've been buying used books on canning and preserving and, of course, have Ball Blue Book which is THE source of information on canning (although I'm told it's too cautious). I've also been slowly acquiring all of the needed equipment. Most of it through this interesting store based out of Ohio called Lehman's but also through antique stores. Last year, I spent an afternoon with a friend who has been canning for years to see it all in real life.

I finally took the plunge a few weeks ago when I was given four plastic shopping bags full of ripe tomatoes. So for the last few weeks I have been making a basic tomato sauce. So far, no explosions in the pantry. Why not make it into spaghetti sauce or something else? I will try that at some point but with basic tomato sauce you can let it be whatever you want it to be when you open the jar.

Here's what I have been doing.

Basic Tomato Sauce
  • Start with ripe tomatoes and lots of them. Wash the tomatoes ahead of time and let them dry.
  • Core the tomatoes and cut in half or quarters depending on the size. Be sure to cut off any blemishes on the skin.
  • Put into the food mill to separate seeds and skin from meat. A few years back I bought this food mill and find that I don't need to peel the tomatoes ahead of time. It does a great job separating the skins and the seeds from the pulp. Put all of the pulp into a pot (or two, if necessary) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat so that the tomato sauce is bubbling gently and moving around the pot.
  • Put more than enough jars in the dishwasher to sterilize.
  • Cook until reduced until it reaches desired consistency. If you look around online, you'll see some people saying one hour and others saying six hours. It all depends on how thick you want it. I like it pretty thick so I let it go for a few hours.
  • Towards the end of the cooking time add 1 small can of tomato paste.
  • Put the lids in a small pot with gently boiling water.
  • When sauce is done, spoon hot sauce into hot jars to 1/4 inch below the lid line using a jar funnel. Fish the lids out of the boiling water. Seal jars and turn upside down on towel for a period of time to sterilize the trapped air and lid.
  • Upright the jar and let cool at room temperature. After they have cooled down check the seal.
The tomatoes in the top photo are from my backyard this last weekend. All of those tomatoes yielded two quarts of sauce.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Tomato Sauce

How many tomatoes does it take to make a quart jar of plain tomato sauce?

I figure 80 to 100. This is based on the fact that I brought home about 200-250 tomatoes from a friend's house and made two batches of tomato sauce and ended up with two quarts of sauce (well, plus some extra sauce that I put in a freezer bag).

This was my first venture into canning. I've been prepping for a few years. That's how nervous I was. So far so good.

Outside in the backyard the Roma tomato plants are starting to get there. The other generic tomato plant that I have is also finally starting to produce some fruit. It looks like this weekend will be another sauce-making weekend.

More on all this later.