Sometimes August feels like December for me, it's because I usually spend the bulk of it in my kitchen getting ready for the winter. I like to make sure I have enough jars of Marinara Sauce and jarred tomatoes on hand to get me through till next year.
My apologies for not visiting all of you as often, between the tomato fest, 5 varieties of jam I made and packing my daughter for college; I'm pretty sure I haven't sat down in the last 3 weeks. We are moving her this weekend and as sad as I am about her leaving, I kind of miss having a little bit of time for other things.
Just how much sauce is enough to get through the winter you might be wondering? Well for my household; I canned a dozen quarts and seven quarts of whole tomatoes. I think that should do it.
I made one batch with mixed heirloom tomatoes from my local farm stand. I like to mix the varieties, some are sweeter and some are lower in acid.
The second batch I made with my favorites San Marzano tomatoes. These tomatoes have less seeds a nice thin skin and produce a thicker richer sauce. My favorite place to buy these is a family farm called Smith Family Farm, it's a fun place to bring the kids too.
You are going to want to make your sauce first, then I will show you how to can the jars:
20 lbs. whole San Marzano tomatoes or Mixed Heirloom tomatoes
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 large yellow onions
2 carrots, peeled and finely shredded
6-8 large cloves of garlic, minced
2 or 3 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
1 tbsp. dried Italian seasoning
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
1) You will need to skin the tomatoes first, I prefer the roasting method since I do such large quantities. I will wash and cut all the tomatoes in half and lay them cut side down, single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silpat mat. Bake in a 425 degree F oven for 10 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes or so.
2) Grab a large bowl and place a sieve over the top, grab each tomato and the skin should pull right off. Keep a plate right next to the bowl for the discarded skins. Squeeze the tomato over the sieve to remove the seeds and place the tomato pulp in the bowl.
My super secret tip: I use rubber gloves while doing this, it eliminates me going around with stained hands.
3) Chop the onions and grate the carrots and mince the garlic. Place the olive oil in a large stockpot (at least 8 quarts) and heat on medium high. Add the onions and carrots and let cook but not brown about 10 minutes. Turn the heat down if necessary. Add the garlic and cook five more minutes.
4) Add the tomatoes and the juice from them. Add the dried Italian seasoning and salt and pepper. I will use a minimum of a tablespoon of salt and keep adding it till I'm happy with the taste.
3) Bring to a boil, turn heat down to simmer and cook for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. I like to keep going back and stirring and tasting to see if there is enough salt. I will add the tomato paste after an hour or so if the sauce isn't thickening enough. Add the basil in the last 30 minutes or so. I will add a tablespoon of sugar or two at the end if my sauce still has that acidic tang. You can break up the tomatoes with a spoon, but sometimes I will run an immersion blender at the end if the sauce isn't as smooth as I'd like it. Chunky sauce is fine too.
4) Once the sauce is finished you are ready to can. I will start the canning water about 30 minutes before the sauce is finished to ensure it is boiling. If you don't want to can, the sauce will freeze well too. I always forget to defrost the container; so canning works better for me.
Makes 6 quarts of sauce. (Plus a little left over for sampling).
Label the jars and be sure to use them within one year.
Here is the link to the canning process, hope you get in your kitchen and go make some sauce; winter will be here before you know it.