Sauces

Fresh Tomato Sauce

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If any vegetable can convince you to start your own garden, it’s the tomato. If blindfolded and given a sample of a homegrown tomato and a greenhouse one, I wouldn’t be surprised if you thought they were completely different vegetables. Of course, you have to live in a climate that tomatoes enjoy. Too hot, cold, or cloudy, and they’ll be bland and mushy. But if you’re lucky enough to live where the growing season offers three months of warm and sunny days with cool nights, you can grow a little bit of heaven right in your own yard. If you’re not lucky enough to have a yard but do have a sunny patio or porch, consider getting yourself an Earthbox. I’ve been using them for years. They’re also perfect for folks who don’t want to (or can’t) do a lot of garden-tending. 

I’ve been growing tomatoes for decades. I’ve had my share of hornworms, early blight, late blight, calcium and magnesium deficiencies. Many years, though, my biggest problem is that I can’t eat my tomatoes fast enough. I know, it’s a wonderful “problem” to have! On and off, I’ve promised myself I would make sauce. Last winter, I decided to make good on that promise and ordered some paste tomato seeds: Park’s Giant Garden Paste Hybrid. It grew some pretty bizarrely shaped fruits, but plenty of them. I’ve read that using multiple varieties can improve sauce flavor, which is convenient because my Early Girl and beefsteak tomatoes are producing like crazy right now, too. It’s been a weird summer, weather-wise, and it seems like all the tomatoes on the vines went from green to red overnight. I don’t mind tossing a few tomatoes over the hill to feed the wildlife, but I like to keep most of them for my human family.

Like many things I’ve put off for too long, it turns out making tomato sauce is pretty darn easy. There are as many recipes and methods as there are cooks. Maybe more! For my first go, I opted for a pretty basic, bare-bones sauce, which leaves endless possibilities for different uses. I went old-school with the method, using a big pot on the stovetop. There are recipes out there for making tomato sauce in slow cookers and pressure cookers, too. With all the rain this summer (I think we’re still up at least 5″ from the usual for the season), I knew the tomatoes would have a lot of extra water that would need to be cooked off. The end result was nothing short of delicious!

You’ll find a printer-friendly version of the recipe at the bottom of this page.

Ingredients:

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8½ pounds garden-ripe tomatoes

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

5 cloves garlic, peeled

10 – 12 small fresh basil leaves

Preparation:

1.) Wash and core the tomatoes, removing any bad spots and a bit of the skin at the blossom end.

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2.) Place the tomatoes in a large stockpot and drizzle the olive oil over them.

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3.) Cover the pot and cook over medium heat for half an hour, stirring at least once during that time. Uncover the pot, reduce to low heat, and simmer for 5 to 6 hours. Stir about once an hour while simmering.

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4.) By now, the tomatoes will have mostly fallen apart. Drop in the whole garlic cloves. Continue to simmer another hour or until the sauce has reached desired consistency. How long this takes depends on how watery your tomatoes were.

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5.) Stir in the basil leaves. Allow the sauce to cool for about an hour at room temperature.

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6.) Run the sauce through a food mill to remove the seeds and skins. Use whichever hole size you want, depending on how chunky you want the sauce to be. I used the medium. Use the sauce immediately, or refrigerate or freeze for later.

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Fresh Tomato Sauce


Ingredients


8½ pounds garden-ripe tomatoes
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
5 cloves garlic, peeled
10 – 12 small fresh basil leaves

Directions


1.) Wash and core the tomatoes, removing any bad spots and a bit of the skin at the blossom end.
2.) Place the tomatoes in a large stockpot and drizzle the olive oil over them.
3.) Cover the pot and cook over medium heat for half an hour, stirring at least once during that time. Uncover the pot, reduce to low heat, and simmer for 5 to 6 hours. Stir about once an hour while simmering.
4.) By now, the tomatoes will have mostly fallen apart. Drop in the whole garlic cloves. Continue to simmer another hour or until the sauce has reached desired consistency. How long this takes depends on how watery your tomatoes were.
5.) Stir in the basil leaves. Allow the sauce to cool for about an hour at room temperature.
6.) Run the sauce through a food mill to remove the seeds and skins. Use whichever hole size you want, depending on how chunky you want the sauce to be. Use the sauce immediately, or refrigerate or freeze for later.

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