What Does One Do With Forty Tomatoes?
Five words will answer that question…Make a pot of sauce! Actually, I have many more than forty tomatoes, but making sauce is a start to managing such a wealth. I’ve been learning how to can and preserve recently and I find that tomatoes are the easiest thing to put up in the Mason jars. No pressure canner is needed, just the water bath method will be enough to kill off any bacteria.
My friend Gayle planted 150 plants and is having an incredible crop this year. Almost every surface in her kitchen and dining is covered in tomatoes. She’s got a lot to manage as well. Part of her management scheme has been giving me the tomatoes that need immediate attention. Lucky me!
- 40 ripe tomatoes, blanched, cored, and peeled
- 2 ribs of celery sliced thinly
- 2 carrots also sliced thinly
- 2 onions diced
- 3 cloves of garlic finely chopped
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp fresh parsley
- 2 tbsp fresh basil
- 2 tablespoons dried Italian herb mix
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 cans (6oz. cans) of tomato paste
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons salt (I salt on the low side)
- a dash or two each of cayenne pepper and black pepper
I put all of the tomatoes in a big stock pot, and in a skillet with a good coating of extra virgin olive oil, I cooked down the aromatic vegetables. I added the garlic, a bit of salt, then tipped it all into the pot that was getting pretty steamy by this time. Everything continued to cook as I stirred the pot every so often smashing the tomatoes as I went. I even ran the electric mixer through it to further crush the tomatoes. After about an hour and a half of simmering, I added the fresh herbs and dry herbs (not yet with the bay leaf) then I added the two cans of tomato paste. It really started to smell good!
After another half hour of simmering, I turned off the flame and used a big 6 cup measuring cup to scoop out the sauce into batches and run each scoop through the blender to further puree the tomatoes. I dumped the now pureed tomatoes into a large bowl. When I transferred the last scoop of tomatoes to the blender, I poured everything from the bowl and blender back into the stock pot on the stove, added the bay leaves, salt, and sugar, then cranked up the heat to high. Since tomatoes vary in size, this is the time to check the taste and make adjustments to the salt, sugar or spices.
To insure being bacteria free, I brought this smooth and lovely sauce to a good boil and checked that it read 210° on an instant read thermometer for at least 5 minutes. I carefully poured the sauce into sterilized quart jars, wiped the rims, and placed sanitized lids and bands on each one. I got exactly 4 quarts out of this batch, but I really had to scrape down the stock pot to do it…otherwise I would have had to make a batch of spaghetti to go with it at 9:30pm. Thank goodness I didn’t have to do that! I’m still saving myself for after that physical examination to eat pasta again. Anyway, with the lids on and another pot of boiling water waiting, I further heated the jars in the water another 10 minutes just to be sure of sterilization. Out of the water bath and on the counter I heard the lids pop one by one as they cooled. The news was just starting when everything was finally cleaned up again.