Forget about that thin, tasteless, bland tomato-colored sauce you buy in a can. In only a few steps you can make your own, either to store for future use or eat immediately. The current abundance of fresh, ripe tomatoes is the perfect time to create your own delicious and nutritious sauce.
How many tomatoes do I need?
Most recipes in a canning or preserving guide require weighing tomatoes. It is hard to weigh out 10 pounds or 15 pounds of tomatoes in a home kitchen. Plus, what if you have 13 pounds? Or 7?
I don’t have much time. How long will this take?
We all need to maximize our time. There is a certain amount of time required to turn home grown tomatoes into a delicious seasoned sauce. My method allows you to make sauce easily with large blocks of unattended time. You will not have to stand over the stove, stirring constantly to prevent scorching.
Here’s how you do it.
Prepare a boiling water bath and large bowl of ice water. Wash tomatoes. Working in batches, drop tomatoes into boiling water for 30 seconds then place into ice bath. This will help the skins slip off easily.
Hint: I use a large pasta pot to do this task. The inner strainer basket can be lifted out and tomatoes dumped at once into the bowl of ice water. This saves fishing out each tomato one at a time.
Peel, seed and quarter tomatoes. Place on a parchment lined, rimmed sheet pan in a single layer. Add olive oil and Italian herbs to taste. There is no real way to give a measurement as the amount is based on how many tomatoes you have and your personal taste. (I use approximately 1/4 cup olive oil and 2-3 Tbsp of seasoning for a full pan.) Leaving out salt at this stage is purposeful. If you are going to use the sauce fresh, go ahead and salt to taste. If you are freezing for later use, add salt at the time of use.
Bake at 300º convection or 325º, stirring every hour until the tomatoes have cooked and thickened. This will take approximately 2 hours, or more depending on the liquid content of the tomatoes. This is where you can go do another task while the sauce bakes.
When the tomatoes have cooked and thickened to your liking, pour into a deep bowl and puree with an immersion blender. If you don’t have one of these, you should stop everything and go get one. Seriously. There are many inexpensive versions available. Otherwise, you can use a blender, but work in small batches to avoid splashing burns.
Use now or preserve.
Your sauce is now ready for use. Boil a pasta of your choice, top with sauce and freshly grated parmesan.
I have successfully frozen this in 1 cup portions in a ziplock baggie. It will keep for one year in the freezer. My next batch will be preserved in canning jars following the Ball book canning guidelines for seasoned tomato sauce.
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