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Jul 10, 2012 12:33 PM

ISO using fresh garden tomatoes for tomato sauce

I want to make batches of tomatoe sauce that can be frozen for later use. I have heirloom tomatoes of 20 varieties, so will be wanting to use several and mix it up. I do not want to use canned tomatoes.

The plan is to be able to use the frozen sauce as my base sauce for other recipes like hot sauce or pizza sauce or spaghetti sauce, so the seasoning isn't so important, just want a basic tomato sauce.

What do you use?

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  1. Not sure if you're asking for a recipe or method. If the latter you can core them and put them in boiling water for about 20 seconds then into a cold water bath. The skins will then slip off easily. Some people take the seeds out at this time, but you can put the tomatoes in a sauce pot and cook them down and cook long enough to get it thick. Use a potato masher to squish them down as they cook. I've noticed all of my tomato sauce that goes into the freezer comes out a little watery--so it needs to be cooked down a bit once it's defrosted to evaporate the water. And yes, it happens even if I vacuum seal the sauce. The other option is to cut them in half, place on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss some garlic on there if you wish and roast in the oven. The skins will come off when they are roasted. . .or you can skin them first in the boiling water. When I'm getting bogged down with 'maters (a good thing!) I'll core them and leave them whole or in half, freeze on a baking sheet then put them frozen into a vacuum sealed bag. The skin comes off easily when they defrost (which is quick) and I can put them into casseroles, soups, etc. throughout the winter. Enjoy your heirlooms! Can't wait for ours to ripen.

    1. I use whatever mix of tomatoes I happen to have on hand. If there are a lot of real juicy slicing tomatoes, I will squeeze the pulp and seeds into a strainer, get most of the seeds out, and reduce the juice separately. It seems to go a little faster than doing it all together.

      1 Reply
      1. re: kengk

        Thanks for your thoughts kengk. I'll bet I could do the squeezing and make some tomato juice 'of the day' too. I know I'll be using a mix of whatever is ready. I'm hoping for as many of the black variety as I can get since I love their sweet smoky taste so much.

      2. You don't have to use the "plum" type tomatoes usually recommended for cooking, but you may have to get rid of extra water if you use the juicier kind. Most heart shaped tomatoes have lots of meat and little juice. Some recommended varieties are Opalka, San Remo, Milano, Linguisa, Rutgers, Jetstar and the like. Last year I grew Bijskij Zeltyi, a small red plum, but so prolific we made several freezer bags of sauce from just one plant.

        For a recipe, I use this one:

        1 Reply
        1. re: DonShirer

          Thanks Don Shirer.

          Since only a few of the plants are plum types, I don't have the choice to use just plums. Rutgers is the only one you list that is planted. Bijskij Zelyi sounds very interesting for next years garden. I'll check the site and look it up. Maybe I can see where to buy it.

        2. For the vast majority of my crop I just blanch, skin, core, seed and pack into freezer bags. Usually a mix of whatever I picked that day. How I treat them once I'm ready to use varies depending on the dish, but this way I have no restrictions other than the size of my stash.

          One trick: I am partial to a very fresh (aka uncooked), simple crushed sauce for wood-fired oven pizza or simple pasta dishes, and to keep that from being too watery given little to no cooking I drain the frozen tomatoes once they've thawed out and then reduce the liquid down to just a bit. Then I add it back into the meaty parts and crush with a bit of herb, salt and pepper. It's the next best thing to a fresh tomato.

          4 Replies
          1. re: splatgirl


            Your tip is the first method I'll try because I love the taste of fresh tomato in my sauces. I make fresh sauce when ever I have fresh tomatoes and don't usually have any left overs. Can hardly wait for the first picking worthy enough to make some.

            1. re: chocolatejam

              No need to skin them before hand.

              Just freeze them whole, then use as needed when needed. Freezing tomatoes whole is the best and easiest way to store tomatoes long term while preserving as much of their fresh flavor as possible.

              They'll slip right out of their skins when they thaw. I core mine before I freeze them, but some don't.

              I also wouldn't make a big deal about the seeds. It's almost impossible to bite into one on purpose, much less by accident. Just leave them in. If you absolutely must remove them, remove only them. The jelly surrounding the seeds contains the most flavor in the entire tomato.

              When making a sauce, if you want to amp up the tomato flavor even more, simply core the tomatoes and put them into a pot and crush them with a potato masher. Cooking them with their skins gives even more flavor.

              Another way to amp up the tomato flavor is to put a few tomato leaves from the plant into the sauce in the last five or ten minutes of the sauce simmering. Remove them once the sauce is done cooking.

              1. re: 1POINT21GW

                I have always thought tomato leaves to be poisonous.

                1. re: jaykayen

                  Actually, that's a long-standing myth.

                  Tomato leaves were thought to be poisonous because of an alkaloid called tomatine. However, in reality, tomatine, which is also found in green tomatoes, binds tightly to cholesterole molecules in our digestive systems. This bound pair passes through the digestive system without being absorbed. So, consuming tomatine actually reduces our net intake of cholesterol!

          2. I grow San Marzano tomatoes (tons of them), when ripe, I put the whole thing in the VitamIx and puree. Then freeze them in various sized jars. This method works best for me because I make tomato sauce, enchilada sauce, tomato soup, tomato juice, etc. throughout the year and don't want to be limited by the way I store them.