Saturday, August 31, 2013

Canning Herbed Tomato Sauce

My bounty is as boundless as the sea, my love as deep. The more I give thee, the more I have, For both are infinite. – William Shakespeare

Sauce for the winter. Guess I'm an ant rather than a grasshopper. (Aesop's fable)

I can’t believe that August is gone. I hope my directions are clear today. It’s 6am and I haven’t had my coffee yet.

The time of bounty has come in the garden. The tomatoes are ripening. Since we can’t keep ahead of them some have to be made into sauce. It takes a while, but it’s quite satisfying.

If you’re making sauce – which does take some effort – I suggest making more than I did. Twice as much actually. Same effort, twice the yield. But this was our first real “run” of tomatoes, so I only had 5 pounds.

This sauce is a combination of cherry and Roma tomatoes. If you're buying, go for all Roma. They have more "meat."

I “put up” in 500 ml jars. The jars you buy in the store are larger, but I always find I don’t need a full jar. The remainder sits in the refrigerator only to be thrown out weeks later. Yuck. So 500 ml it is for us.

This is a pretty basic sauce using a handful of fresh picked herbs. There’s plenty more combinations for sauce that you can do, which I probably will, like spicy or olive or mushroom. It’s essentially up to you what flavours you end up with.

The thickness is up to you as well. Don't make it too watery. I ended up with two and almost a full third jar. Better a little thick than a little thin.

The most important thing to remember is to process them in hot water afterwards if you want the sauce to keep on the shelf.

The lids HAVE to snap down when cooled to be sealed. If they don’t it only means those jars have to be refrigerated. But if you start with clean, sterile jars it shouldn’t be a problem.

I have written in the directions to place something in the bottom of the canning pot to keep the jars from direct contact. It can be anything. You don’t have to buy a canning set and lifter. I used a collapsible silicone colander.

Leave adjusting the salt to the very end. Since the sauce cooks down in volume, what is salty enough halfway through cooking can very well turn out to be too salty when reduced down.

There will be more tomato sauce in my future. And pickles for any leftover green ones. But that is a different post.

Herbed Tomato Sauce
Time: at least 3 hours  |  Yield: 1.5 L (approx.)
2 tbsp olive oil
5 lbs Roma tomatoes, chopped
1 large sweet onion
6 garlic cloves
1/4 cup red wine
1 cup chopped basil, with some rosemary and oregano
salt to taste (1 tsp first, then adjust at end)

Place all the ingredients in a large pot with a heavy bottom. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and place cover on the pot slightly ajar.

Let the mixture cook for 2 hours. At the end of the 2 hours, purée with a stick emulsion blender until smooth. 

Then allow to cook until the sauce is thickened to your liking. Stir often during this step so it doesn’t catch on the bottom of the pot. Taste for salt and adjust.

Sterilize three or four 500 ml canning jars (always best to have too many ready than not enough) and place the piping hot sauce in the jars. If you end up with a jar not completely full that's OK. You can always use that one within a week.

Wipe the rims to make sure they're clean. Screw the lids on the jars “finger tight.”

Place the jars in a large enough pot to hold them with 1” of water covering the tops. Put a trivet (or something else) in the pot bottom to keep the jars slightly lifted off.

Bring to a boil and cook for 35 minutes. Remove the jars and let cool. You will hear the bump on the lids lids “snap” down as they cool. (This may take 1/2 hour or more.) Retighten the lids.

Any lids that don’t snap down must be refrigerated and used within a week because they didn’t seal properly. Others can be stored on a shelf through the winter.

Don't forget to label the jars so you know what it contains (herb, mushroom, etc...).


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