In the past week, I taught myself how to make and can spaghetti sauce, I made tomato “junk” – just roughly chopped tomatoes, onions, garlic sautéed in olive oil, then frozen in quart bags -- and I oven dried tomatoes. Of course, we ate some, too. (I must amend: I ate some. My husband, who loves spaghetti, pizza, lasagna and all kinds of red-sauced Italian dishes, does not like fresh tomatoes. Incredible.)
It all started when my neighbor Dude said, “I’m done gardening, Rosie. Had enough. Take what you want. I’m done.” He’d shown me his pantry, his root cellar and his freezer. Yes, indeed, he was ready for anything. He had spaghetti sauce, tomato juice, stewed tomatoes, plain ol’ tomatoes. And he had carrots, beans, hot peppers, corn, pickles of all kinds, and some various and sundry vegetable mixes for which he had no name. “Just stuff I threw together.” Now my 70’s-something widower neighbor didn’t do this ALL himself; his daughter Amy was his primary accomplice. (And I also learned just last evening when I saw another of Dude’s daughters, Jeannie, and her husband Tom, that they usually spend a couple days each year making 170 quarts of sauce. “Why didn’t you get my recipe!?” he asked. )
But I was on my own. Dude loaned me his “Squeezo.” That’s not a clown’s name. It’s his handy-dandy Victorio strainer that, operating something like a grinder, squeezes the juice and pulp from the tomato out one end, and discards the skin and seeds, from the other. (Again, I must my amend: my husband helped; he loved running the Squeezo!)
Dude’s son-in-law Tommy humbly disagrees with the methodology: “No, no, no. Grind first, then strain. The flavor’s in the skin!” My instinct tells me he’s right. Next time, another try. When I’m not feeling quite so lazy about it.
This is the recipe I followed (pretty much) for my first batch – 10 pints. Confidence bolstered by my first effort, I winged it the second time. With great success, I must add. Because I wanted a smoother, marinara-like sauce, I eliminated the vegetables the second time around and beefed up the spices, using dried basil, thyme, oregano, about1/4 cup total, and bay leaves –for the 30 pounds of tomatoes, which yielded 6 quarts. If I sat down and did the math about the cost of things – considering time and labor -- I’d probably have to charge about $5 a quart! But the satisfaction of “I made that and it tastes great and I know where everything came from” is priceless, for sure.
(to can or freeze)
from Stocking Up III
5 pounds Italian plum tomatoes, about 25
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon chopped green pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped carrots
2 tablespoons chopped celery
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1 teaspoon oregano
1 bay leaf
Pepper, to taste
¼ cup lemon juice, if canning
Loosen tomato skins by plunging tomatoes into boiling water for 1 minute, then under cold running water. Remove skins. Cut tomatoes into chunks.
Alternatively, you can just wash and core the tomatoes and puree them in a food processor. Although a bit messy, you save yourself the bother of skinning – and you save some of the tomatoes’ nutrients, which are found in and right beneath the skin. (Or you can use "Squeezo!")
Heat the oil in a large enamel or stainless steel kettle and sauté onion and garlic. Stir in peppers, carrots, celery, and tomatoes; add parsley, oregano, bay leaf and pepper. Simmer, uncovered until thickened, about 1 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Remove bay leaf.
To can, add the lemon juice and pour into hot, scaled pint jars, leaving ½ inch headspace. Seal and process in a boiling water bath for 35 minutes.
To freeze, pour into freezer containers.
Yield: 2 pints
Freezing sounds a whole lot simpler, doesn’t it.
|First taste of new sauce|