Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Saucy Saturdays at Cedar Road... (seemed like that would work... nope...)

Two years ago we had an abundance of tomatoes I had the 'great' idea to make pizza sauce.  I bought a package mix from the store and got busy!  The problem  I encounter was it never thickened up - the package mix said not to cook it too long, so I had hope that some sort of magic would happen once it was in jars and on the shelf.  I'm sure you are as shocked as I am that no actual magic happened.  Serious?  What the heck?

Fast forward to this year - an abundance of tomatoes is an understatement.  I wanted to make pizza sauce again but was afraid of that package mix.  You see, anytime I wanted to use the sauce?  I'd grab two jars, then cook it on the stovetop until it reduced enough to actually be like pizza sauce.  What a pain in the butt.  This time, I found a recipe that seemed pretty simple - but something else about it struck me.  There was some information about tomatoes.  The suggestion was that even if you picked your tomatoes fresh that day - freeze them.  What?  Yes - freeze them.  Here's why… One of the struggles with tomatoes is the massive amount of juice in them.  So when you are trying to make a sauce that is somewhat thick - you have to cook it until it's killed to get the juice out.  Guess what freezing does?  I have no idea… but when you thaw the frozen tomatoes - all that extra liquid - melts away and you are left with just the meat of the tomato.  It's like magic.  See… there's magic in this sauce!  Unlike the recipe maker - I am not worried about seeds and skins.  I used my immersion blender to smooth the sauce out.  Also, it's not very red since I mostly used my yellow tomatoes.  

I love being able to can and preserve food from the abundance of our garden.  With just a few simple ingredients you can make something special.

Psst Barb!  I think this one is gluten and dairy free!!!

Home Canned Pizza Sauce

Yield: Makes 7-8 pints or 14-16 half-pints
22 lbs. tomatoes, fresh or whole frozen
3 c. chopped onions
6 cloves garlic, minced
¼ c. olive oil
2 Tbl. dried basil
1 Tbl. dried oregano
1 Tbl. dried thyme
1 Tbl. black pepper (or to taste if you're not as much a pepper fan as we are)
1 Tbl. sugar or honey (or to taste)
2 Tbl. salt
2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste)
bottled lemon juice or citric acid: 1 Tb. lemon juice OR ¼ tsp. citric acid for EACH pint and 12-oz jars; ½ Tb. lemon juice OR ⅛ tsp. citric acid for EACH half-pint jars

To prepare tomato puree from frozen tomatoes: (assuming they were cleaned and cored before freezing) leave to thaw 24 hours; drain accumulated juices and put through a strainer to remove seeds and peels.
To prepare tomato puree from fresh tomatoes: wash, core and halve tomatoes; heat to boiling (I use a 12-qt. stockpot and a 6-qt. soup pot for 22 lbs); put through a strainer to remove seeds and peels.
Make the pizza sauce: in a 12-qt. or larger stockpot cook onions and garlic in the olive oil over medium heat until the onion softens, 5-10 minutes. Add tomato puree and all the seasonings (basil through pepper flakes), bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook for about 30 minutes, uncovered. Process with an immersion blender to make a smoother sauce (or carefully blend in batches).
Bring back to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until sauce reaches desired consistency (reduced by ¼ to ⅓), usually an hour or two, depending on if you started with fresh or frozen tomatoes. Make sure to stir occasionally to prevent sticking (if you have a thin-bottomed stock-pot, stir more often to prevent scorching).
To can: add the lemon juice or citric acid to each clean, warm jar, fill jar with sauce leaving ½-inch headspace and attach lids and rings until fingertip-tight. Place in canner rack and repeat with remaining jars to fill canner (keep sauce and jars warm, as you will need to do a couple canner loads when using half-pints).
Process both pints and half-pints for 35 minutes in a boiling-water canner (find more details in our Canning 101 steps found in the recipe index).
Remove to a towel-lined surface and let sit undisturbed for 24 hours before checking seals, labeling and storing in a cool, dark place.

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