Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Abundance of Tomatoes Makes Tomato Sauce

One way to use extra and not-so-beautiful tomatoes:

Chop your tomatoes into 1-inch or so pieces, discarding any severely blemished or tough areas, no need to remove the skin or the seeds. Puree this in a food processor until almost liquid.

Cooking experiment:  I filled my 3 1/2 quart slow cooker to within an inch of the top and started it on low without the lid so the moisture could escape. It didn't seem to be reducing at all after a couple of hours, so I switched it to high, then it started to reduce, but after 6 or so hours, I shut it down to cool. After cooling it in canning jars, I stored it in the refrigerator overnight. Next time, I will just cook it on the stove. The slow cooker worked, but if I were to try that again, I'd start it on high with the lid until it was simmering, then remove the lid.

This morning I put it in my dutch oven on the stove, starting with the cover on to heat it up on medium heat. Once it was simmering, I removed the lid and reduced the heat to medium-low. The goal was to reduce by approximately half what I start with, and it was done to my liking within a couple of hours. From start to finish on the stove would have taken roughly 6 to 8 hours. Be sure to scrape down the sides once in a while, whichever method of cooking you choose.

I let it cool, then ran it through the food mill to remove the seeds.

I ended up with two containers with a bit more than 3 cups in each (it's a little thicker than commercial canned sauce). In the middle of the winter, I'll take one out and use it in place of two cans of tomato sauce when making chili, or maybe I'll make pasta sauce.  Because I've removed the seeds prior to freezing, I can start cooking without thawing the sauce first. The seeds aren't that bad in the sauce, but I'm usually cooking for others and they aren't always fans of the seeds. :)
I was originally inspired to freeze tomato sauce after reading this blog post: Kalyn's Kitchen how-to-make-and-freeze-tomato-sauce.  It's less work than canning tomatoes and you get the benefit of the extra fiber from the skins.