Sunday, October 16, 2016

How To: Make Basic Tomato Sauce


When the boys saw the four flats of tomatoes on the counter, they groaned. "Are we peeling all of those?!?" Yep. Well, some of them. 


Every summer I process a ton of tomatoes so we'll have fresh sauce even when tomatoes are out of season. And every summer, they complain. I usually make them do enough that they appreciate the fresh sauce, but, then, I do the lion's share of it as a Roasted Tomato Sauce that doesn't require peeling!

Making a basic tomato sauce in the wee hours of the morning in an enormous cauldron is one of my unforgettable food memories. There was no sterlization going on. We were in the middle of a field, cooking the tomatoes down over a fire with an oar and pouring them into old beer bottles. It was fantastic!

I had rented a room on a farm on the island of Lipari (off the coast of Sicily). Each morning the family left me a basket of eggs and fresh vegetables. And one day - at 3am - they invited me to watch them make and jar their tomato sauce for the year. When it was all finished, just as the sun was coming up, we simmered fresh eggs in their tomato sauce with slices of huge garlic cloves, sprinkled it all with sea salt and topped it with some fresh basil. We ate it all with bread just out of the wood-burning oven in the field. As I said - unforgettable.

Note: this is not a finished tomato sauce. It's a tomato base that I will open up throughout the year and season as I cook. Think of it as a roasted tomato canvas. There is nothing in here except some vinegar to keep the acidity high and safe for canning. There are no aromatics, no herbs, and no salt included.

Ingredients

  • 15 pounds organic, ripe tomatoes
  • 1/4 C organic apple cider vinegar
  • also needed: ice, jars, lids, and bands

Procedure
Bring water to a boil and submerge your tomatoes - whole - into the water. Let sit for two minutes. You can do this in batches if your pot isn't big enough to hold 15 pounds of tomatoes.


Quickly plunge the tomatoes into ice water. They can sit in there for as long as you like.


Score the skin and easily slip the skin off! Piece of cake.


Pour into a large pot or Dutch oven. Simmer the sauce until the tomatoes completely lose their shape and the sauce is reduced by a half - or more if you like it thicker. Stir in vinegar.


Spoon sauce into sterile jars and process in a water bath. Let cool until the jars seal.

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