Monday, 6 October 2008

Canned (Bottled) Tomato Sauce

I keep thinking my life is getting back on track, and it is, sort of. I think I may even be able to get back to the blogging. The last week has been crazy busy; as soon as we got our apartment finished and handed over to the new tenant, another one gave notice. Yee-haw! Fifteen minutes of serenity in between. Oh well.

That didn't stop us from getting 4 bushels of tomatoes to can. Most of it went into Canned Tomatoes, but I thought I would branch out and make tomato sauce this year as well. I'm very pleased with how it turned out. I didn't want to pressure can it, so the recipe contains vinegar. It does make the sauce a touch acidic, however, if you wish to leave the vinegar out, the sauce must be pressure canned. I don't find the vinegar excessive, and it's then fine with the regular boiling-water bath canning.

I'm describing cooking this in more than one pot at a time, as there is a lot of sauce to cook down. If you can do it all in one pot, more power to you.

Editted to add: I'm slowly, slowly trying to get back into some kind of a routine, and that means sending appropriate links on to Presto Pasta Nights, where there are sure to be lots of variations on the theme of everybodys' favourite food.

22 to 24 500-ml jars
5 to 6 hours - all work, all the time, and divided over 2 days

Cooking the Pasta Sauce
Above; cooking down the sauce, in two pots. Below; a jar of the finished sauce sits next to a dish of sauced pasta.

The Finished Pasta Sauce
16 quarts (1/2 bushel) tomatoes
pickling salt
3 cups grated carrots
3 cups peeled and coarsely chopped onions
3 cups cored and coarsely chopped sweet red peppers
1 head garlic, divided into cloves and peeled (optional)
2 cups vinegar
1/4 cup sugar

Blanch the tomatoes and peel them, cutting away the green cores and any bad spots. Chop the tomatoes coarsely, and put them in a large (large!) pot; more than one if necessary. As you put them in, sprinkle a little pickling salt over each layer. If you have a pasta type pot with a strainer insert, so much the better. The tomatoes should then be put in a cool (but not too cold) place overnight or for several hours to strain. Lift the tomatoes up and out with a slotted spoon, and discard the watery juices that have accumulated at the bottom of the pot. (This will reduce the cooking time to thicken the sauce considerably.)

Prepare the other vegetables as described in the ingredient list. Put them, with as many of the tomatoes as you can, into a large pot, and cook for about half an hour to an hour, until they are fairly soft. At this point, you can either purée them in batches if you have a good blender or food processor until very smooth, or you can run the mixture through a food mill (medium screen) and discard any seeds or skins that won't go through. Return them to the pot (or another one) and continue cooking the sauce. Meanwhile, put the remaining tomatoes into another large pot and bring the to a boil. Cook them until soft, and begin puréeing them in batches and adding the purée to the sauce as it cooks down. At some point, you will also need to add the vinegar and the sugar. Check for salt, and add a sufficient quantity more. Remember though, that salt is not needed to preserve it, so you can always add more once you open your jars and use them. Don't over-do it, in other words. I also didn't add any herbs for this reason. I figure they are probably better added when I use the sauce, and it will be more flexible.

When the sauce is reasonably thick, i.e. as thick as you would like it to be, you are ready to can it, provided you put your jars on to boil about an hour earlier. So put the jars into the canner when the sauce is fairly thick, but not quite thick enough. Expect them to take about 45 minutes to come to a boil, and then you must boil them for 10 minutes to sterilize them.

Remove the sterilized jars from the canner, and dump out most of the water in them to make room for the sauce. Dump some of the water back into the canner to replace water that has boiled off; the idea is that when the filled jars go back in, they should be covered by an inch of boiling water.

Fill the jars with the hot sauce, and wipe the rims with a paper towel dipped in a little of the boiling water. Seal the jars with lids and rims which have been boiled for 5 minutes (according to the manufacturers instructions.) Return the jars to the boiling water bath and process for 40 minutes. You will certainly need to do more than one batch; just make sure that the jars are properly sterilized and the sauce is just off the boil when it goes in.

When the finished jars are cool, check that they have sealed properly, and label them. Hurray! Put 'em away; you've got tomato sauce.


Tay Moss said...

I canned tomato sauce for the first time this year and used a slightly different method for preparing the tomatos. I chopped them coarsely and put them through a Victorio Strainer to separate the skin and seeds from the good stuff. I think the proportion of water in the resulting puree is much higher than in your method, and the result is a much longer cook-time (like 7 hours long). Another thing I did differently was add a bottle of red wine and fresh, chopped basil. I used lemmon juice to raise the acidity to a safe level. -t

Ferdzy said...

Hi Tay; yeah the straining thing sounds picky and time consumining - until you've tried boiling down a bushel of tomatoes as-is.

I've used a Victorio type thing in the past (I assume that's a brand of food mill) but since I now own a nifty, not to say pricey, Vita-Mix I decided to put it to use.

The wine and basil sound good. I was going to put in fresh oregano, but I decided it would be more flexible in what I used it for if I didn't.

Ruth Daniels said...

On behalf of all those with tons of tomatoes in their gardens and lots of space for canning...I thank you! Thanks for sharing with Presto Pasta Nights.