Archive | August 2014

Tomato Sauce

I think that I have finally found a recipe for tomato sauce that works for us and that I just love. I am honestly writing this post for me just as I am writing it for you. I have a very bad habit of tweeking a recipe to get it just the way I like it and then forgetting what I did. I am writing to down now for all the world to see so that I do not forget it.

As you know I do not have as much of a garden as I would like. I get a couple pounds of tomatoes a week but never 45 pounds like the Ball recipe calls for to make tomato sauce. I have created a recipe that uses just 6 pounds of tomatoes. I call it a recipe for normal people. It makes two quart jars of sauce. It is not as much sauce as the big recipes make, but it is the best way for me to preserve my harvest and enjoy tomato sauce year round.

My small batch tomato sauce. Makes 2 quarts

6 pounds of Romas or San Marzano Tomatoes. (I grow San Marzanos and I love them and I am never going back to another variety.)

1/3 cup sugar

1 tablespoon of onion powder

1/2 tablespoon of garlic powder

1 tablespoon of mince onion

1 tablespoon of basil

1 tablespoon of molasses

2 tablespoons of lemon juice or 1/2 tsp of citric acid (This is per quart jar and it does not go in till you are ready to put the lids on to can them)

 

I wash my San Marzanos and I cut them in half, remove the core and any seeds that are there. The great thing about San Marzano is that there is very little seeds. They are a very dry tomato and there is not much “jelly” as my kids call it, on the inside. I put all the washed and sliced tomatoes in my stock pot.  I add all my seasoning and put it on the stove to simmer.  I start out at a low temp because I do not want any to burn on the bottom of the pan.  Once the tomatoes start to liquify I then increase the heat to about medium heat.  I let them simmer for about a half in hour.  Once all the tomatoes are soft I then use the immersion blender and create a perfectly smooth liquid.  Yes you read these instructions correctly. I do not take the skin off my tomatoes, I like the added texture, nutrition and it does not waste as much of my precious tomatoes.  Once it is blended I let it simmer till it reaches the thickness I like in a sauce.  I like my sauce to stick to my spoon so there are times it simmers for an hour.  There are times there is less moisture in the tomatoes and it only simmers for 1/2 an hour.  Either way you can simmer it till it is the thickness you like.  Place the sauce in two clean and warm quart jars, I put mine in the dishwasher, and add your acid, either from lemon juice or citric acid. Put your canning lids on and water bath can them for 40 minutes or pressure can them at 11psi for 15 min. (This is based on our altitude and the Presto Canner guide instructions.)

I hope that you enjoy this sauce as much as our family does.  There is just something special about opening a can of sauce that you made, I love it.  Enjoy the rest of your canning season!

 

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Tomato Rot

Every year we learn new things, and this year is no different.  We have grown tomatoes in the past, but we have never had a problem with tomato rot.  Our garden is not very big, we have very little sun in our yard, as a result we have to plant our crops as close together as possible to save space.  That and I also have a problem throwing away seedlings, I plant everything even when I know I will be planting them too close together.  In the past, that has just caused me to have a garden that looks like a jungle, this year however, I think that me planting the tomato plants to close together has caused the tomatoes to get tomato rot. 

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I dont think that I can take all the blame though, we have had a very unusual spring for this area.  It was cooler than normal with  a lot of rain.  I honestly think that it was a combination of the two, no matter the cause now we had tomato rot and we had to figure out a way to save at least some of our crop.  I planted a couple different types of tomatoes all with a different purpose.  Our sauce tomatoes however, were the ones that were effected the most by the tomato rot, they are also the most expensive to replace if I were to buy them at a farmers market. 
Not knowing much about tomato rot, I did a little research and found that moisture and air flow had something to do with it.  Even though no one really knows the reason for tomato rot.  I decided to try and trim my plants as much as possible to increase air flow at least two feet off the soil.  We trimmed off all suckers as well as any limbs that had not started to produce any tomatoes.  We made sure all the plants were tied up and supported and clipped any limbs that were rubbing another limb.  At first you read that and you think oh, that does not sound like much work at all… well you would be very wrong. It took three adults 2 days to complete this simple task.  In the end I think that it was worth every second of effort.  We still lost some of or crop, but once we trimmed we noticed a drastic improvement.  Was it the act of us trimming or was it the weather warming up and the rain slowing down, I cant answer that, but I am happy to have my sauce tomatoes back and we have continued to produced a close to 10 pounds of tomatoes a week.  Not bad for our little plot of land. 

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