Monday, September 9, 2013

Dr. Larue’s Long-Simmered Fresh Tomato Sauce with Canning Basics

Dr. Larue’s long-simmered Fresh Tomato Sauce with canning basics

Yields about 8 (1½ C) Portions
Ms. Larue’s long-simmered Fresh Tomato Sauce
I have been growing, cooking and canning tomatoes for years for a variety of uses.  Easily the most versatile is tomato sauce. If you are not growing your own, head to your farmer’s market toward the end of the day, and pick up a bushel of tomatoes to turn into the best ever tomato sauce. If you freeze it or can it you will be a brilliant chef all winter.  This sauce is very basic – nothing but great tomatoes, onions, a bit of seasoning and garlic, of course. I use it in a myriad of pasta sauces all year-round. 

The base tomato sauce made with fresh vine-ripened tomatoes and long simmering will deliver the richest of flavors, and, in turn, will create more complex tastes in your sauces. Because the base tomato sauce is a foundation, you can use it to build a more flavorful sauce with the addition of a myriad of ingredients. Next week I will post two quick “under 30 minute” entrees featuring the base tomato sauce. Look for them.

Feel free to quarter, half, double or even triple this recipe depending on how much sauce you want to make or by how badly that bumper crop of tomatoes is taking over your garden.
  • 1/3 C olive oil
  • 2 lbs. red or sweet onions, chopped
  • ¼ C garlic, minced
  • 10 lbs vine-ripened tomatoes, cored, diced – and peeled if not using a food mill
  • ½ C fresh basil leaves – plus, if canning, 1 leaf per jar
  • 1 Tb fresh oregano
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tb kosher salt
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • Fresh lemon juice if canning, 2-3 Tb per jar 

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large pot. Add onions and cook, covered, 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic, reduce heat to low, and cook, covered, 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove cover and cook 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add diced fresh tomatoes, ½ C basil leaves, oregano, red pepper flakes, salt and sugar and cook 2 hours, stirring occasionally. If you have peeled the tomatoes, remove 1 quart at this time, puree in a blender, return to pot and cook an additional 1-hour. If you are using a food mill, cook the entire batch for 3 hours, stirring occasionally.
Diced tomatoes
Basil...also from the garden

Tomato sauce, pre-food mill
If using a food mill, put all thru mill on the coarsest disc. Cool if you are not canning, measure into 1½ C – 2 C portions and package in plastic zip-top freezer bags or other containers. Use immediately, refrigerate up to 4 days or freeze up to 4 months. Follow instructions below for canning.
Ancient wrist torture device, also called "food mill"
Sauce post-food mill
Canning Instructions

Keep the tomato sauce warm. Wash jars, lids and screw bands with hot sudsy water, rinse thoroughly and dry. I usually run the jars through the dishwasher just before I begin canning use the hot dry cycle and pull the hot jars from the dishwasher just before filling. You want the jars sterile and hot when adding hot sauce to them. Clean and hot are the two key words in boiling water canning. The aim is to avoid contaminating the jars (be sure to touch them only with clean utensils) and to keep them warm so a tight seal will form. Essentially clean, hot jars are filled with food, boiled (“processed”) to sterilize their contents. As the jars cool, the food and any air inside contracts, creating a vacuum that sucks the lid on for a tight seal. That's all. J

Getting ready to can
This method can only be used for high-acid foods. In order to be safe, I always add 2-3 tsp of fresh lemon juice to each jar of tomato soup or sauce before boiling. (As an aside, use a pressure canner for low-acid foods such as homemade soups, unpickled vegetables and stews.)

Start water boiling in large canning pot. I usually have a second pot with boiling water so I can easily add additional water to large canning pot if needed in order to cover the jars.
Under water and boiling
Ladle the hot sauce into clean, hot jars, leaving ½” headspace. Add 2-3 tsp fresh lemon juice. Run a clean nonmetallic wand or chopstick around the inside of the jar to remove trapped air bubbles. Wipe rims of jars with dampened, clean paper towel; secure the lids with screw bands tightened by hand into place. Carefully lift jars and place in canner rack in pot of softly boiling water. Add more hot water if needed to cover jars by 1½ - 2 inches. Once water resumes boiling – begin timing for 45 minutes. When complete, carefully remove jars and set on a nearby towel. You will hear popping sounds as the vacuum is created. Do not tighten the bands after the jars have been processed as this could break the seal. Cool the jars for 24 hours. When cool, one can remove the screw bands. They are not necessary once the lids are sealed and may rust and distort storage, ruining the seal. Check each seal by pressing on the center of the lid. Sealed lids should be slightly concave in the center. If the center pops down when you press it and stays that way the seal is probably fine. If it pops back up after it’s pressed, the seal is broken and the jar should be refrigerated.
Final can remove the screw tops safely for storage if there is a good seal
Canned tomato sauce or the Umami-rich Tomato Soup can be canned and stored for 10-12 months. Imagine fresh tomato sauce or soup from a summer harvest year-round. What could be better!


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