For most of the year, I am a staunch advocate of the small batch. I make jam in skillets, put up pickles one pint at a time, and simmer my chutneys in a miniature Dutch oven. However, come tomato season, I change my tune and go big. Very big.
Over the last five years, I’ve gotten into the habit of buying at least 100 pounds of tomatoes in the first or second week of September and spending a few very messy days painting my kitchen red.
I peel tomatoes, pack them into jars, and can them whole. I make tomato jam. I roast trays of tomato puree until they thicken into brick-red paste. And I cook up vast vats of basic marinara sauce that becomes the base for batches of meat sauce and soups all year long.
Having homemade marinara sauce on your pantry shelf is a dinnertime lifesaver because it means that you’re never more than 20 minutes away from a meal that you can feel really good about.
Some nights, I heat it up, serve it over pasta with a little parmesan cheese and call my work done. Other times, I brown up some sausage or ground turkey, add the marinara and simmer it down into a thick meat sauce. I’ve also been known to open a jar, add a little milk and call it tomato soup (always with a slice of cheesy toast on the side).
One of the things you’ll notice about this recipe is that it’s lightly seasoned. It’s like that by design, in order to keep the acidity levels high enough for boiling water bath canning. Please do resist the urge to add a little more onion, garlic, or olive oil. More can always be added when you open the jars.
The only piece of specialized equipment you need to make this sauce is a food mill. However, if that’s not a tool you have, there are a couple other ways to go. You can peel your tomatoes using the score and blanch method, puree them in a blender and then add that puree directly to the cooked onions, garlic, and oil (you won’t get the seeds out using that method, but they won’t do any real harm).
Alternately, if you have a snazzy tomato press that separates out the skins and seeds for you, you can run your tomatoes through that and again, add the puree directly to the pot. As you can see in these pictures, that’s my preferred method these days.
If you find that pints would be more useful to you than quarts, feel free to can this sauce up in smaller jars. Just reduce the processing time by five minutes. And finally, if you live at higher elevations, do make sure to increase your processing time accordingly.
|Home Canned Marinara Sauce||
- 18 pounds paste or roma tomatoes
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
- 1/4 cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley
- 3/4 cup bottled lemon juice
- In a large pot, sauté the onion, garlic, and salt in the olive oil until they are transparent.
- While the onions and garlic cook, core and chop the tomatoes. Once the alliums are transparent, add the chopped tomatoes. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the tomatoes have broken down.
- Position a sieve or food mill over a large bowl and begin to press your hot tomatoes, onions and garlic through it. Once the tomato sauce has been separated from the seeds and skins, return it to the pot and stir in the basil and parsley. Simmer sauce until it is reduced by 1/3 to 1/2.
- When you’re about half an hour out from being ready to can, prepare a boiling water bath and 4 quart jars. Place lids in a small saucepan over very low heat to simmer while you prepare the tomatoes.
- Take your prepared jars and add 3 tablespoons of bottled lemon juice to the bottom of each jar. Pour the hot tomato sauce into the jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.
- Wipe the rims, apply lids and rings and process in a boiling water bath for 40 minutes.
What’s your favorite way to preserve tomatoes?