Well it's finally harvest time!! Over the past three days I have done 3 stock pots full of pasta sauce with this recipe!!
15-20 lbs of ripe tomatoes
4-5 medium cloves of minced garlic
1/2 cup of fresh basil or 2 tbs dried and crushed
1/8 cup of fresh oregano or 1 tsp of dried and crushed
1/8 cup of fresh thyme or 1 tbs of dried
1/2 cup of fresh parsley or 1 tbs of dried crushed
1 large green bell pepper
1 medium purple bell pepper (or any other color you want)
1 large yellow onion
1/2 cup of granulated sugar
salt to taste ~ 1 tsp is what I use
3 tbs olive oil
In your stock pot put the 3 tbs of olive oil and set your stove top to low you will then want to chop your onion and peppers and add them to the stock pot and let them saute until the onion is transparent
Next you will want to mince your garlic however you feel is best for you at times I have used a mini food chopper, garlic mincer or I simply use my knife to crush and mince to my desired chunkiness,
To press with a knife I use a knife with a wide blade and press down with the palm of my hand to flatten the garlic and then cut against the grains of the garlic to mince and then again the opposite way.
Now you can take your tomatoes and pulp them, whether that is by means of blanching and dropping into ice water and skinning and coring, or with the Squeezo machine I've mentioned in my previous blog about Kitchen Gadgets. You can add the pulp as you have it ready It takes me about 3-4 pans of pulp to fill the stock pot and I add it as I need to to make more room for new pulp. Once you have all of your pulp added turn the stove top up to medium heat and get the sauce simmering. Depending on the type of tomatoes you use will depend how much you need to reduce your sauce. The more water in your tomatoes the longer you will need to simmer i.e this is why there are certain tomatoes that are superior to others for sauce, such as roma. ( I use roma and some beef stake or mountain fresh. The mountain fresh do really well in our area and are blight resistant and have very few seeds and thick pulp.)
Now that your sauce is simmering you can add your dried and fresh herbs. Basil is easiest to chop if you lay all the leaves in the same direction and roll "hot dog" style as tightly as possible and cut against the grain or short ways first then cut it the opposite way so you don't have long strips in your sauce.
There is no easy way to mince oregano pack it into a tight pile and just start chopping until it looks right.
You'll want to add your sugar at this point as well this helps lower the acidity of the tomatoes.
Add all of this to your stock pot and simmer until you have the desired consistency.
While your sauce is simmering sterilize your jars and lids and set them aside to cool. I do this in the water bath canner that I will can the sauce in once it is packed in to jars. I use my funnel to help prevent messes when ladeling hot sauce into the jars. I use mainly quart jars and a few pint jars if I am giving some to others for example, my gram is only one person and one pint is perfect for her to make a small meal with left overs but for my family of four a quart is equivalent to the larger cans of sauce at the store and we use the whole thing in one meal.
Once your jars are packed and the lids are on fingertip tight having left a half an inch of head space (space from contents to the inside of the lid) you can now gently start placing the cans into the water bath with the silicone coated tongs that are in the kit I also mentioned in the Kitchen Gadgets blog. Once all of your cans are in the already simmering water make sure there is at least an inch of water covering the top of the cans. Once this is done you can place the lid over your water bath canner and process pints for 35 minutes and quarts for 40. Nearing the end of the processing time if the lid is still on it may start to boil over to prevent this when the lid starts rattling on the top of the canner I set it off to the side a little so there is space for the excess steam to escape. It's best to keep the lid on as long as possible so you don't lose too much water and have to add more, if this happens it is okay, but don't add cold water. Try to add water that is as hot as possible so you don't decrease the overall temperature in the canner.
Once your processing time is up carefully remove your jars and set on a canning mat or a thick dish towel that is folded at least in half or double them up. You don't want to place hot jars on a cool counter the glass could shatter. Once they are all out take another towel and cover the jars so they can cool slowly and aren't exposed to any drafts. Allow 24 hours to cool and check the seal on the tops of your jars by pressing the centers of the lids. If they are down already that is perfect, if they are up and pop down this is okay but I would recommend placing these ones in the fridge and using within a week. If the top is up and when pressed pops back up this is bad and the sauce is no good and needs to be dumped out. This normally happens if there is small imperfection in the lid itself or there was something on the mouth of the jar when the lid was placed on that is not allowing it to seal properly and rarely happens but if it does it is not worth trying to salvage. Dump it out and count it as a loss.
Label your jars and store on the shelf for up to a year!