Food & Entertaining - Garden to Table

Family secret tomato sauce

Turn your tomato harvest into a rich sauce that will last throughout winter

How do you preserve your abundance of tomatoes and not let one juicy fruit go to waste? If you are into canning and preserves, you can turn your bounty into rich sauces, relishes or jellies. Here is a recipe from Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle that might just make you want to double your crop next year.

Family secret tomato sauce
The point of this recipe is to make a large amount at one time, when tomatoes are in season. If you’re canning it, stick closely to the recipe; adding additional fresh vegetables will change the pH so it’s unsafe for water-bath canning. If you’re freezing it, then it’s fine to throw in peppers, mushrooms, fresh garlic, whatever you want. This recipe makes 6-7 quarts*—you can use a combination of pint and quart canning jars or freezer boxes.

10 quarts tomato puree (about 30 pounds tomatoes)
4 large onions, chopped
1 cup dried basil
½ cup honey
4 tablespoons dried oregano
3 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons ground dried lemon peel
2 tablespoons thyme
2 tablespoons garlic powder (or more, to taste)
2 tablespoons dried parsley
2 teaspoons pepper
2 teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg

Soften onions in a heavy 3-gallon kettle—add a small amount of water if necessary but no oil if you are canning (very important!). Add pureed tomatoes and all seasonings, bring to a boil, and simmer on low heat for two to three hours until sauce has thickened to your liking. Stir frequently, especially toward the end, to avoid burning. Meanwhile, heat water in canner bath, sterilize jars in boiling water or dishwasher, and pour boiling water over jar lids.

Bottled lemon juice or citric acid—NOT optional!
Add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice OR ½ teaspoon citric acid to each quart jar (hald that much to pint jars). This ensures that the sauce will be safely acidic. When the sauce is ready, ladle it into the jars, leaving ½-inch headspace. Cap jars, lower gently into canner and boil for 35 minutes.

Remove, cool, check all seals, label, and store for winter.

*1 quart = 4 cups

From Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. Published by HarperCollins Publishers Ltd. Copyright © 2008 by Barbara Kingsolver. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.

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