Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Beginner's Guide to Canning Tomato Sauce

This post is coming at you from two of us at A Busy Nest: the Empty Nester and the Budding Nester. For a couple months we have wanted to get together to make this tomato sauce and after finding local tomatoes that were at its peak, we snatched them up and made this sauce. For me, The Budding Nester, I have never canned anything. I had always wanted to, but did not want to venture out into this realm of homemaking alone. The Empty Nester (also known to me as "Mom") has a history of canning, but never did so with tomato sauce. Needless to say, it was a learning experience for both of us. This "simmer sauce" is loaded with fresh herbs from the garden and makes a great base for soups and pasta sauces. Here's a look at how we did it:
First and foremost, you need to make sure your pint jars are clean and sanitized.
One way to quickly peel a large batch of tomatoes is to stick them on the grill.
After the skins char and begin to peel off, place the tomatoes in paper sacks for 15 minutes.
Roughly chop tomatoes. Once chopped, give it a quick whirl in a food processor or blender until you've achieved a texture like that of marinara sauce. 
Simmer tomato sauce with balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper and brown sugar for 80 minutes or until reduced to about 11 cups. After, stir in fresh herbs just before canning the sauce.
Heat jars and lids in boiling water.
The jars need to be hot. The sauce needs to be hot.  Pour lemon juice into each jar.
Fill each jar, leaving 1/2-inch of headspace. At this point you'll need to follow the instructions for your canner device of choice. 







Tomato Basil Simmer Sauce
12 pounds tomatoes
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups fresh basil, chopped
1 cup fresh herbs, chopped (parsley, oregano, thyme)
6 tablespoons lemon juice

To peel the tomatoes:

Option 1: Preheat an outdoor grill to high. Place tomatoes on grill and grill until roasted and skin begins to peel off, turning to allow heat to reach all sides. Remove from grill, place in brown paper sacks, and let sit for 15 minutes. Peel skin off tomatoes and roughly chop. 

Option 2:  Lightly cut an X on the bottom of each tomato. Place in boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove from water and peel skins off tomatoes. Roughly chop.

To make the tomato sauce:

In batches, add tomatoes to a blender or food processor and pulse just a couple times, keeping the tomatoes a little chunky (like marinara sauce). In a large 8-quart stockpot, add tomatoes along with brown sugar, salt, balsamic vinegar and pepper. Bring to a boil and keep at a high simmer for about 1 hour 20 minutes. The mixture will reduce to about 11 cups and thicken. Stir in fresh herbs.

To can sauce: 

Sanitize six pint jars. Heat jars and lids in boiling water. Remove and pour 1 tablespoon lemon juice into each pint jar. Ladle the hot tomato sauce into each jar, making sure to leave 1/2-inch of headspace. Tighten lids on jars and wipe clean any spills. Process jars in a pressure canner according to manufacturer's instructions.









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