Making Tomato Sauce to Can

October 20, 2016  •  Sauces, Technique

salento-puglia-italy-tomatoes-for-sauceWhen I was in Italy with my group of guests this year, we participated in the annual making of the tomato sauce to bottle for the cooking school for the coming year. It was an all day affair, with a whole team of us working in shifts on various jobs to work our way through there 16 crates of tomatoes.tomatoes-beefsteakNo sooner did I return home that I received an email saying a local organic farmer had more tomatoes that needed for her CSA, and invited me to purchase some. I got two 25-pound boxes of these beefsteak tomatoes which I simply washed, chopped and froze.tomatoes-to-freezetomatoes-plumAnd I got two 25-pound boxes of these plum tomatoes, not as good as the San Marzano tomatoes we used in Italy, but pretty full flavored and fleshy nonetheless, that I decided to make sauce out of.tomato-sauce-cookingI made the sauce similar to how we did it in Italy: I cooked the onions first in a bit of olive oil, then added the chopped tomatoes and fresh laurel leaves (bay leaves) that I had brought back from the castle. Instead of inserting a basil leaf in each bottle, I decided to cook the basil with the sauce, and then run everything through the food mill I had recently purchased for my KitchenAid mixer. It really made fast work of the process, and I was ready to can the sauce. You have to be careful with tomato sauce to can it safely (raising the acidity to a safe level to kill bacteria), so I followed this recipe from the Food Network. I’m not thrilled with the lemony flavor of the sauce, and found that adding a teaspoon of sugar to each jar when I’m using it in a recipe helps offset that taste. Next year I might experiment with citric acid instead to see if I like that better.

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