Our first foray into home canning was a pretty simple recipe - in fact it wasn't much of a recipe at all.
I read Kalyn's Kitchen in my Google Reader, and one day I noticed an entry for How to Make and Freeze Tomato Sauce. Actually, it must have been a link on someone's blog (maybe Marta's) because the entry goes back to 2006.
Anyway, this recipe looked so simple (no blanching or peeling or seeding the tomatoes) that I thought it would be a good first effort. Of course, we were going to can the tomatoes after they were prepared - no room in our freezer.
I picked all yellow/gold/green heirloom tomatoes for this project - so I could tell the difference later from tomatoes prepared another way.
No blanching, no peeling - just puree in the food processor and then reduce the resulting tomato mixture. If desired, when using the tomato puree, it can be put thru the food mill to eliminate the seeds.
Here is the tomato puree just after coming out of the food processor:
And here is the puree after it has been reduced:
The canning procedure went well - I think we have the hang of it now!
Used: Two colanders of tomatoes - about 20 lbs
Yield: 6 pints of puree
"Just Tomatoes" Sauce for the Freezer - Kalyn's Kitchen
A lot of people are into canning tomato sauce, but I've been able to successfully avoid the home canning impulse for quite a few years now, even though most of my family has that gene. I prefer the flavor of frozen tomatoes to canned, and always freeze slow roasted tomatoes and Sausage and Basil Marinara Sauce every year which I make from garden tomatoes. The recipe I'm posting here is for the sauce that I make when I've made roasted tomatoes, marinara sauce, and eaten fresh tomatoes by the handfulls and the garden is still producing tomatoes! It's nothing more than plain tomato sauce, but oh what flavor when you make the sauce yourself from tomatoes still warm from the sun and picked the day you make the sauce.
The most inspiring thing about my recipe is the flash of brilliance I had when I realized that you don't have to peel the tomatoes. You can put them in a food processor and puree everything, and then when you cook them the peeling disintegrates into the sauce for brighter tomato color and more flavor. This method will produce a rather rustic tomato sauce which still has the seeds. You can always use a food mill to remove seeds when you defrost the sauce if you're making something where you want a more pure type of sauce. Read more about that below.
"Just Tomatoes" Sauce for the Freezer
It's important to use tomatoes that are well-ripened and it's best to pick them the day you make the sauce if that's an option. I'd estimate that it takes about 6-8 large tomatoes to make a cup of sauce, but make as much as you can because this tastes wonderful in the winter when you're dying for the flavor of fresh tomatoes.
Put tomatoes in the sink and rinse well with cold water. Cut out stem area and discard. Cut each tomato into pieces about 1 inch square. (Don't make the pieces too large or the tomatoes won't puree easily.)
Using the food processor with the steel blade, puree diced tomatoes in batches and add to large heavy stock pot. The puree should be nearly all liquidized when you add it to the pot.
Turn the heat as low as you can get it and cook the mixture until it is reduced by at least one half and as thick as you want it. I usually cook my sauce at least 6-8 hours to condense it down to the thickness I want. Your house will smell delightfully tomatoey while you cook this. I like to use a rubber scraper to scrape off the carmelized tomato that sticks to the side of the pot as the level decreases and do that about once every half hour.
When sauce is condensed and thick, put into individual plastic containers and let cool on the counter for an hour or so. When sauce is cooled, snap on plastic lids and freeze. This will last for at least a year in the freezer.
When you're using the sauce, if you want a more pure tomato sauce that doesn't have any seeds you can put it through the food mill after it's thawed. Freezing the sauce this way with no added seasonings at all creates endless possibilities for using it. Add garlic, oregano, basil, or any other seasonings you want when you use the sauce to create soups, stews, pasta sauces, or other dishes this winter.