Thursday, September 13, 2007

Preserving Summer: Tomato Herb Sauce

OK, OK, so I’ve been grumbling a bit about saying good bye to summer, but I am not going to pretend that I am excited about the coming winter. So, I have started a little canning operationto help me hang on to summer a little longer and perhaps even through the winter—if I can track down enough jars!

When I was growing up, my mother canned all sorts of produce, but did I ever pay any attention? No. Usually I was giving the most mundane tasks, like peeling the tomatoes or pitting the apricots, and I would let my mind wander, waiting for the chance when I could slip away and get back to my book.

Now that I am a mother and want to take up these domestic duties, it’s a trial-by-error project.
I mean, I’ve made a few jams and jelly’s over the years, but that about it. But how hard can it be, right?

So, I am excited to get started with preserving summer’s beautiful produce in pretty glass jars and hope to inspire you to do the same. What better way to keep the flavors of summer alive that to preserve them and store them in a pantry for that cold December day when the tomatoes at the grocery store taste like cardboard.

Gorgeous Italian tomatoes tomatoes at the market were the first to catch my eye and I was reminded of my own yellowing plants at home. I bought 40 lbs, hurriedly, knowing that if I thought about it too long, I would chicken out at the big task ahead of jarring these beauties.

I was very please with this simple sauce; the herbs and garlic don't overpower the tomatoes, it's thick, has vibrant color, and I was proud to jar it.

Tomato Herb Sauce

20 lbs Italian tomatoes
4 cloves garlic, chopped
I medium onion, chopped
¼ cup olive oil
½ cup fresh oregano leaves
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped finely
Black pepper

Fill a 5-quart pan with water and bring to a boil. Wash tomatoes and make a small “X” with a knife in the bottom. Prepare a large bowl with cold water. Blanch tomatoes, a few at a time, quickly in the boiling water until the skins loosen. Plunge immediately into cold water. Peel tomatoes and using your hands, squeeze the juices and seeds out. Discard seeds and skin.
In a large, heavy bottomed stock pot, heat the olive oil. Sauté garlic and onion until soft. Add tomatoes and herbs and stir well.
Cook on medium heat until heated through, and then reduce to low for a gentle simmer. If you prefer your sauce smooth rather than chunky, puree it now with an immersion blender.
Cook for about 4 hours, until reduced slightly and thick. Season with salt and pepper.

Place eight, one-quart clean mason jars on a rack in a boiling water canner; cover jars with water and heat water to a simmer (180°F/82°C). Set screw bands aside; in a small pot, heat lids in hot water, NOT boiling (180°F/82°C). Keep jars and lids hot until ready to use.

Have ready: a pair of tongs, a jar lifter, a 2-cup glass measuring cup, a wide-mouth jar funnel, and a few clean dish towels.
You are now ready to can! Make sure any small children are not underfoot at this time.

Working with one jar at a time, remove jar from hot water and place on your workspace. Place the funnel in the top. Ladle hot sauce into a hot jar to within 1/2 inch (1 cm) of top rim . Using nonmetallic utensil, remove air bubbles. Wipe jar rim removing any stickiness. Using your tongs, remove a lid from the hot water standing by and center lid on jar; apply screw band securely & firmly until resistance is met –fingertip tight. Do not over tighten. Place jar back in canner; repeat for remaining jars.

When all jars have been filled (or your canner is full –don’t overcrowd), make sure jars are covered by at least ½ inch of water.
Cover canner; bring water to a boil.
‘Process’ (meaning “boil”) at a gentle boil for 40 minutes. When processing time is complete, turn heat off and remove canner lid. When boil subsides, remove jars without tilting.

Cool jars upright, undisturbed 24 hours. DO NOT RE-TIGHTEN screw bands.
You should hear the musical “Pop, Pop” of the jars sealing. This is a proud moment!
After cooling, check jar seals. Sealed lids curve downward and do not move when pressed. Label and store jars in a cool, dark place.

If you have any leftover sauce, why not enjoy it with some spaghetti for supper? You shouldn’t have to do any more cooking for today.


Anh said...

Aimee. I love this! Preserving summer. I gotta remember this when summer approaches Melbourne! Great post!

Kajal@aapplemint said...

wow aimee thats a lot of hard work , and oh i love those jar lifters.I've never used one of those before.Its gr8 that you are carrying on your mom's tradition.The sauce looks fantastic.

Deborah said...

You read my mind!! I was just talking to my mom yesterday - asking how to make and can a tomato sauce. Now I have all of the instructions I need!!

Anonymous said...

It makes the work worthwhile to be able to pop one of those quarts open in January, boil some pasta, and grate some cheese. Super!

Anonymous said...

Very impressive canning setup, btw. I could use one of those big stockpots!

Michelle said...

That's amazing! I cannot imagine how long it took you to do all that! My parents used to do a lot of "preserving" too. I admit, I am not quite into trying that out yet!

Dee Light said...

Oh yummy!!! I love preserving it is so rewarding!!!

Anonymous said...

Peeling all those tomatoes is no small task. I too have been trying to capture summer for the impending winter, and thoughts of sunshine in a jar kept me going through about 60lbs last weekend.
Your sauce looks great!

Zaak said...

Yowsers. I bet it tastes almost as good as Prego!

High Power Rocketry said...

I want to make this suace.

Anonymous said... all I have to do is bum a few jars off you ;)

Aimée said...

Hi Anh- Have fun! I wish I had gotten an earlier start and turned some of those early summer berries into jam, but oh well.

Hi Kate- Thanks for dropping by-and congrats on your nomination btw!

Hi Deborah- Good luck with that. Hope it goes well.

Hi Haidi- Thanks, yep I am thinking the sauce will really come in handy right around when the baby is born...

Hi Michelle- Oh come on! You might surprise yourself and love it!:)

Hi dee light- Welcome to UtHC! I agree, it is very satisfying to line up those jars.

Hi mlindley-
Thanks so much. It's really a good incentive, isn't it?

Hi Zaak- Almost.

Hi r2k- Thanks for stopping by, but are you really a tomato sauce-making kind of guy? :)

Hi Miranda- HA! not likely. Christmas is coming though...

Nora B. said...

That looks like hard work that i would enjoy :-)

I should think about doing something like that with stone-fruits when it is in abundance. Thanks for all the clear instructions.

Belinda said...

Aimee, this sauce will definitely help to brighten up some of those winter days. It looks beautiful, and fresh rosemary and oregano...I love it! You did a fantastic job with your canning, and I bet you felt a terrific sense of well deserved accomplishment after you were finished. :-)

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

What a fantastic post Aimee, I love it! I'm almost tempted to try it but not sure I've got the patience.

Cookie baker Lynn said...

What happiness there is in the musical popping of sealed jars!

Anonymous said...

You know I've been tring to get into canning, it has long been an interest of mine. A few months ago I bought a pair the funniesy looking pinchers at a garage sale. I suspected what they were used for, even though they look nothing like what my mother used. Thanks for the Pix. In the one where youre taking the jars out, ou confirm what I thought. Oh and The recipes sound great tooo!

Eula said...

Love it all except for the olive oil: both Ball and the USDA warn that their research shows that adding oil to home canning recipes increases the risk of botulism. If you like the taste oil oil, add it after you open the jars when you go to use them!


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