You too can “put up” your own tomato sauce and not slave away all day to do it! I am a wife, homemaker and mother of 3 kids under 7. I’m busy but growing and preserving is important to me, so I fit it in. Here’s how I made tomato sauce while still having time to visit with friends, exercise and take care of my family.
First I picked my tomatoes. I actually used all 7lbs of tomatoes that I had in the freezer for this recipe. So there’s another tip: save up extra tomatoes that you aren’t eating, in the freezer until you have enough of a batch! I would have done them fresh because I have 14 tomato plants! but I was heading out for vacation when they were ready so it had to wait. Next I tossed all the frozen tomatoes (7lbs and 14oz to be exact) into my crockpot and set them on high for 4 hours until everything was thawed out and simmering. Next I stirred and reduced to low for the next 22 hours. This takes a little finesse however because crockpots (mine anyway) doesn’t run for more than 12 consecutive hours. So before I went to bed the first day I turned it off, unplugged it for a few seconds, plugged it back in and set it for 10 hours on low. The next morning, check and see if the tomatoes were cooked well because they were whole to begin with (yes, seeds, skins and all!). Now I turn it off and remove the lid to allow it to cool until it isn’t too hot to handle. Now I used my Food Mill and processed all the cooked tomatoes and juice through the finest screen. This not only purees the tomatoes but removes the seeds, cores and skins too! I don’t have time to core and peel tomatoes, do you?
Now I returned the processed sauce back to the crockpot to simmer a little longer until I was ready to can and enough moisture has evaporated. I like to slightly offset the lid to allow moisture to escape but not too much or it won’t stay hot enough to simmer. I wait until it has been reduced by at least 1/3, 1/2 if you want it thicker. Once I was about ready I seasoned the sauce a touch. I add salt and garlic powder to taste. Sometimes tomato sauce needs a pinch of sugar too in order to balance the acidity. This batch didn’t. Then I proceeded to can the sauce in half pints, adding 1 tsp of bottled lemon juice to each jar. The lemon juice ensures acidity since I use a water bath canner as well as keeps the nice bright red color of fresh tomatoes. I processed the jars for 30 minutes in a boiling water (water bath canner). This batch made 9 half pints and one pint that was 3/4 full. The partial jar has to be frozen or refrigerated for use within one week because of the excess air space. You can just freeze this too, instead of canning. Personally my freezer fills up too fast so I keep as many things in the pantry as I can.
Pop….pop…pop. Ah music to my ears!
Happy Tomato Season!