Friday, November 6, 2009

Making the gravy

So although this was back in August, I wanted to share my prize here. My reason for getting into gardening so much was my love for fresh garden tomatoes! After all who can argue that the taste of a fresh tomato doesn't compare to those flavorless red spheres you purchase at the grocery store that are called a tomato.

Anyway, I planted 6 or 8 (can't remember) different varieties of tomato plants this past growing season. I found that the bigger ones produce the best sauce. Next season I'm going to have to keep track of the different varieties -- my bad. I like the Rome tomatoes for salads, I like the bigger ones for sandwiches and for sauce making.

My yield was about 20 jars of sauce (or as Italians say .. "gravy") this season. Not bad for starting out poorly with the blight and blossom end rot I dealt with.

Making my sauce is a long process. I try to break it up in phases so as not to get too harried by it. After's supposed to be relaxing, right?

I collect and collect and collect tomatoes. Once I have a good amount:

I start to produce the gravy. I get a large sauce pot and first sauté garlic and onions in olive oil. While that is sautéing, I start to chop up the tomatoes. I keep them in largish chunks seeds, skin and all and proceed to toss them in the pot. Once the pot is pretty full I'll add some fresh basil and oregano -- a good bit too. Ground pepper, and salt and stir. I cover the lid and let it simmer for a good bit. After a while the tomatoes will break down and start to look "saucy". Depending on the consistency I'll throw in a can of tomoato paste. But the one thing I love about fresh sauce is how light it is! This is something that I especially appreciate in the middle of winter. Popping open a jar of fresh tomato sauce in February brings back memories of the warm summer and me tending to my lovely tomatoes and working in my garden. Anyway, I'll add tomatoe paste, and some red wine...and maybe sprinkle in a bit of sugar. Then I'll just let it simmer. After a while, I'll turn off the heat and let it cool down a bit before proceeding to the next phase of sauce making.

Phase two is the pureeing of the sauce. Once the sauce cools down a bit, I will blend up what's in the pot. This is a messy and bit of a pain as you're producing lots of dirty pots. Bit by bit I'll take cup fulls of my sauce and put it in the blender and blend it up so it's a sauce consistency. Again, I just do seeds, skin and all. Once this is all done I start the canning proccess.

While I was doing the blending, I have a large canning pot on the stove heating up to a rapid boil. I then put my sauce into canning jars and in each jar I put 2 TBSP of lemon juice. I seal up the jars and then transfer them into the pot of boiling water. Let them boil for about 45 minutes. From there I turn off the water and let them sit for about 5 minutes. After 5 minutes I then take them out of the pot and as they cool you can hear them seal shut...air tight! Once they cool down I check to make all the seals of the jars are securely on. I date them and volia! homemade garden tomato sauce.

In our house...these jars are like liquid gold. I always remind myself while I'm laboring through the process how much our family appreciates it in winter.

1 comment:

  1. 20 jars! Wow, we did 6 jars one evening and that took us till 3am to finish. It was our first try though so hopefully next year we'll be quicker. Liquid gold indeed.