Wednesday, May 2, 2012

30 Minute Tomato Sauce

I hope I didn't shock anyone into thinking I already had a huge crop of tomatoes in, and that I was started to put them up already. Sadly, no; our tomatoes haven't even gone into the ground yet. It's been too cold, believe it or not! And just a few weeks ago, people were putting in their ACs because the weather was 90F+!

I did however find a whole treasure trove of Roma tomatoes on sale at the local Price Rite. They were around a dollar a pound, so I picked up about 4 pounds (I think) and decided I could spare some time to cut them up and reduce them into something delicious.

This afternoon I had some extra time between tasks to take the opportunity to do the sauce. I'm never sure if I should season before or after canning the sauce, so I always err on the side of caution and go with seasoning afterwards. I reduce just tomatoes and I can only tomatoes. The acidity levels are what prevents me from adding anything else... I know what tomatoes alone require, but I'm not about to test PH after adding onions, so I don't bother.

The process of making your own tomato sauce from strictly tomatoes seems to intimidate some people. Some people mess with blanching the tomatoes, stripping the skin, canning whole but quartered tomatoes.... I can see why someone would be intimidated. I've tried most of these things in the past. I find them entirely useless.

What I do is just take each tomato, one by one, and chop off the end where the tomato was connected to the vine, then I cut the tomato in half. I do this with all the tomatoes I have.

Once they're all trimmed and halved, I get a big bowl and push out all of the seeds and watery bits of each tomato. I put each tomato half aside with skins attached until the whole mess of them is done.

Now that all the tomatoes are cleaned out, I get my food processor out. It's a tiny little thing that I find very useful for making all sorts of things! I don't know if my tomato sauce would be this quick and this easy without it. All you need is something that eviscerates the tomato, skin and all. My blender also does the trick - so may yours!

Throw maybe 6-8 cleaned tomato halves in that processor and go to town! Blend it down until it's just a pink, frothy mess. Take the tomato frappe and put into a pot of your choosing. I find that dutch ovens do the best job for tomato sauce as they retain the slow, low heat.

Bring the sauce to a boil. Once it starts bubbling up a little bit, mix it, and reduce the heat to low (on a scale of 1-10, I keep mine around 2-3)

Let it sit and simmer for a few hours, uncovered. You want to reduce the water content so covering it wouldn't be that useful. Mix it occasionally. You'll know it's done when it's a deeper red and it has a consistently that you prefer.

All in all, without the simmering time, it took me less than 30 minutes to do this. You could theoretically do it on your lunch break if you should want to. The simmering down is a hands-free process.

I should also like to mention that it takes a lot of tomatoes to get a big pot going. Once you're done, you can choose to can your sauce, freeze it, put it in the fridge for use tomorrow, or use it right away.

If you have any tips or tricks, I'd love to hear them! Happy cooking :)

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