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Aug 27, 2007 06:26 AM

Making and preserving homemade tomato sauce

My dude and I picked about 20 lbs. of roma tomatoes yesterday in a pick-yer-own frenzy...we'd like to make a basic tomato sauce recipe that doesn't scream "I'M ITALIAN!" , as we'd like to use the sauce for any application. Does anyone have a good recipe?

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  1. You don't really need a recipe. Blanch the tomatoes and then plunk them in cold water so that you can easily remove the skins. Then cut them in half, and squeeze out the seeds and some of the juice. Then depending on how chunky or smooth your want the sauce, pulse in a food processor. If you want just strictly tomatoes, put them in a large pot and simmer for at leat an hour - but trust me on this, the longer the better. I usually do this in the morning and jar them in the late late afternoon. I usually add some salt and sugar to mix.

    That being said, I do make mine more italian because before I put them in the pot, I will saute some onion and garlic. I also add fresh basil at the end of the whole process.

    It doesn't get any easier than this

    1. My best friend swears by this method (and her sauce is always wonderful.) She said the easiest way to understand it is to go to and search for fresh tomato sauce. I forgot to mention that this is a freezer method. Good luck!

      1. I used to cook sauce on the stove. But then I tried roasting tomatoes, and the flavor can't be beat.
        Cut tomatoes in half (I slice out core), cut onions into thick wedges, toss a few garlic cloves on a baking sheet, sprinkle on some fresh herbs (oregano, thyme and/or rosemary), toss w/ olive oil, S&P and roast at 450 degrees. Check and turn after 25 minutes. Continue roasting until slightly charred. Dump everything into a food mill, cool, and freeze.

        3 Replies
        1. re: NYchowcook

          What NYchowcook said. Roasting them concentrates the flavors, and is MUCH easier than trying to simmer the sauce long enough to thicken it. No scorching on the bottom of the pot, no stirring, and no tomato blops all over the stove.

          I scrape the roasted veggies into a bowl and use the immersion blender. I can mine, in pint or half pint jars.

          You can just do the tomatoes, and add the flavorings as you use the sauce.

          1. re: sparrowgrass

            I do a similar roasting method of the tomatoes and a whole garlic bulb. I peel the slightly charred skins off the toms (super easy as they are barely attached) and squeeze the garlic cloves. Use the immersion blender (all time fav appliance). I add fresh herbs, EVO, SP and then I leave the covered bowl in the sun for a few hours to "cook". It is easy and fun to make, freezes wonderfully as mentioned and what a wonderful taste of summer available all year round.

          2. re: NYchowcook

            I slow roast them at a low temp to avoid too much charring (changes the flavor). So I have just had a bunch of tomatoes in a 200 degree oven for 4 hours getting nice and concentrated. Then I freeze them.

          3. I'm really digging the slow roasting idea, as I love the concentrated flavor of roasted here's the dude and I got all carried away at our local chef''s-with-dough store and bought ourselves the foodmill (which i've always wanted), lids, and pint JARS....we're going full throttle with this canning business, as i've done it (once), and he's also done it (once) we were going to pool our collective brains together and "put it up"..., as I knew from past experience, you've got to boil the jars yadayadayada for a certain amount of time and the right amount of acid...anyways, we thought we had this project in the bag until i started skimming through the ball jar cookbook located conveniently next to the foodmills...i'm reading the recipes for tomato sauce and in EVERYONE of them, they say to add lemon juice ....i'm a food teacher by trade, thus am TERRIFIED of the dreaded botulism toxin, though my physicist boyfriend says, "pshaw!...we don't need no stinking lemonjuice" here's the question:...what do you all say about that? acidify or not to acidify?

            4 Replies
            1. re: sixelagogo

              I am scraping the green marks off my hands from tomato picking today too. Having jarred tomatoes for over 25 years (min 9 bushels max 21 bushels), can I say we have NEVER added lemon juice. If tomatoes are not acidic, what is (OK, lemons)?
              Having said that, roasting may reduce the acidity; same with if you precook your sauce. We put up tomatoes in two ways.
              First make sure they are ripe. We lay them on a tarp for two days after picking to dry up and ripen a little more. We wash them all several times.
              1. Score, blanch, peel, squeeze to remove seeds and chop in med size pieces. Put in clean jars (wash them all first), we always add a few slices of basil so you can see them along the side. We use the handle of a wooden spoon to poke into the jars to get rid of air pockets and then refill. Then, process them; we line our pots with old cut up tablecloths and top with the same so jars do not rattle and hit the pot or eachother(breakage). Do not overcrowd. One of my mom's stubborn friends lost 30 jars in one massive boil because of a chain reaction breakage in an overstuffed large pot. Not sure time but about 30 mins. You really need one of those jar lifters.Listen for the beautiful pop. We test by pressing down on lid when cooled many hours later. If there is a bounce back, it is no good and we open and make fresh sauce and freeze (this is rare).
              These we use for fresh chunky pizza sauce, adding to stews, or adding to ratatouille or braising, this basically is used as is out of the jar.
              2. Cut tomatoes up in 2-4 pieces depending on size. Put in a huge pot, add a touch of water and start on med/high heat and stir so that it softens slightly so that it doesn't clog your machine. Traditional family method for a thicker tomato paste. Line a bushel with old clean tablecloths and pour contents of pot, letting tomato water drain. When cooled slightly, using a very small pot, scoop that into cranker machine (we now have a beauty of an electric one from (Italy) and let it go into ssteel bowl. As bowl fills, we salt slightly and use a funnel to fill jars, again adding basil. Same processing method as above. Mother in law does not believe in straining tomato mixture and she always has a 3 inch head of tomato water. She ends up adding paste. We prefer no water and have more rich sauce.

              If you have a freezer, wash and dry a dozen or so tomatoes. Freeze in a ziploc or such bag. Great to throw in homemade chicken soup while boiling or in other stocks that you will strain.
              Got to go wash my hands again - let me know what you decide to do.

              1. re: itryalot

                I reread your post and noticed - food mill. You can even do some (we do one fifth of our jars this way and the rest the other 2 methods) an easier way, which we do when we get near the end and are tiring.
                Wash and cut up tomatoes (cored) in med pieces. Add some salt and jar with ot without basil. Process. When you use, you dump the whole thing in the food mill; skins and seeds gone and keeps the best pulp by the skin.

                1. re: itryalot


                  yer exactly the kind of seasoned canner I've always needed in the kitchen...canning makes me feel like such an idiot...i remember when I first canned 10 years ago - me an another culinary professional (we were boths chefs at a leading restaurant) decided to put up the berries we had picked...oh the angst!!...we were complete neophytes and my grandmother probably was rolling in her grave while laughing her head off at our ineptitude...resolved to revive the lost art that is canning, i bought the whole kitandkaboodle (pot with rack, lifters, etc) and, after 2 insane days of canning, never canned again..
                  We're trying our luck out today and I'll keep you posted on our success (she says with crossed fingers)

                  1. re: sixelagogo

                    I am no where near a chef, but part of my European childhood upbringing insisted that I be involved in all kinds of traditional family food endeavors from sausage making to tomato canning.
                    I miss the old days...(sigh)

            2. My friend from work brings me her "not as pretty, just as tasty" tomatoes from her garden. I do not can them, but more cook them down to a tomato-paste consistency - this is my own process and recipe, I made it up. I roughly chop the tomatoes and place them in a big pot. Turn heat on high and add some minced garlic (2-3 cloves, depending on how many tomatoes) and some salt (remember, this will be cooked down A LOT, so be careful with over salting) and freshly ground pepper (herbs, if desired). The salt brings out the moisture in the tomatoes. Once it comes to a boil, I turn heat to the lowest setting as possible and let it simmer for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally (more towards the end as it will be dryer). Then once it is done, I dole it out in 3 tbsp or more portions and put it in freezer bags and throw in the freezer. That way, whenever I need a pasta sauce or to add something to soups, I just grab a bag out of the freezer. For sauce, just add some chicken stock for a delicious sauce.
              I came up with this method, rather than canning, since I have limited space, and the space that I do have is already taken by my jams and relishes!!