Hard to believe it’s tomato season again already. Seems like yesterday when we canned about 75 jars of last years crop. As luck would have it, we are down to our last two jars and it’s about time to make more!
This recipe is basic yet versatile. I make it a little thinner than the jarred stuff on the grocery store shelves and, yes, it tastes better too! I do this because, out of the jar it’s a great dip for bread sticks, veggie platters and your favorite fried cheesy things. Heck, I even dip my pizza crust in it! Thicken it up a little more through a little reduction and it becomes a nice pizza sauce, thicken a little more and you have a nice pasta sauce. The sky is the limit, of course.
These tomatoes were from a local farm in Hollis, New Hampshire. Firm, red and sweet. I know some recipes call for a little sugar to sweeten things up a bit, but we all know that is to hide bad, flavorless tomatoes, right? If you have a great tomato that is ripened on the vine and grown locally, you can almost expect that you are going to have an awesome product in the end. Being as we are working on ways to preserve the season, you will be able to enjoy this amazing sauce all the way through the winter and, hopefully, until next tomato season.
Questions, comments and concerns welcome…
House Made Tomato Sauce
This all purpose sauce is a bit thinner than you might expect from something you'd buy at the grocery store. It's great as a dip right out of the jar and can be turned into a pizza or pasta sauce by just reducing it a little bit over a medium-high heat. This recipe uses a bushel of tomatoes and I had to use two large stock pots to make it. Of course, if you want to cut this recipe in half it might be easier to deal with.
Ideally, you want to grow your own tomatoes. If you are unable to do this for any reason, research a local farm that offers tomatoes in bulk. Buying them this way is not only the most economical, but you are supporting your local farmer and getting the best tomatoes you can possibly get.
Bring a huge pot of water up to a boil. Cut an X slit on the flower end of the tomato and carefully cut the core out. This will make peeling them a lot easier. Once the water boils, drop your tomatoes in for 1-2 minutes or until you see the skins start to peel off. You don't want to cook them, just remove the skins.
Next, dunk them into a clean sink full of ice water. This stops the cooking process and makes peeling them a bit easier. You can use the water to rinse your hands off while you peel your red orbs.
As you can see, the skins comes right off. You can throw them in your stock pot or in the compost bin as they are not good for your sauce.
After you're done peeling the tomatoes, cut them in half at the equator. Gently squeeze them over a strainer. You want to keep this lovely juice but discard the seeds. They will do nothing but cause bitterness to your sauce and get stuck in Granny's dentures, she won't like that.
Now that the "hard part" is out of the way, if you are doing this entire recipe, you will want to split everything listed above into two parts. Separate them in two large stock pots. Unless you really, really love making sauce or have a huge family, it doesn't make sense to do this more than one time. This recipe is designed to make and last you until next season.
Sauté your onions and garlic in the olive oil until soft and translucent. Add your red wine, reserved tomato juice and tomato paste. Stir together well and reduce by half over medium-high heat. This will concentrate your flavors. Building flavors is what makes this sauce lay on your tongue for a long time!
Add oregano, thyme, bay leaves and chili flakes (do not add the basil at this time) combine well.
Add your seeded, peeled tomatoes. Before tossing them in, however, you may find it easier to give them a squish in your hand first. This will assist in the cooking process. Stir well to combine everything. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes are soft, about 1 hour.
When tomatoes are soft, puree with a stick blender (one of my favorite kitchen tools ever!) until smooth.
Bring to a low boil, stirring occasionally, and then put on low heat. Cook, on low, for about 8-12 hours, stirring occasionally. This will reduce the sauce and build the flavors and add depth. Season with salt and pepper and add your basil about 30 minutes before it is done. Taste it. Adjust the seasoning to your liking.
When the sauce is reduced to your liking, can it according to your favorite canning instructions. I will dabble more in this awesome preservation technique later. Meanwhile, you may want to get a book or start a little Google searching. Canning is fun and easy.
Let your sauce cool on the counter over night then label, date and store.