Do you ever have one of those moments when you think of something and then wonder why and how it took you so long to think that? I had one of those moments last Wednesday. Wednesday night is the night I go through the refrigerator and either throw things out or add things to the grocery list. On one of the shelves in the very back corner was a half used jar of tomato sauce. First, I wondered how did it get there – I keep jars on the door and then secondly, another jar that had started to grow mold!! We just do not go through tomato sauce very fast in our house. We are not big pasta eaters and pretty much the only thing that we use tomato sauce for is pizza. In the summer, pizza making is pretty rare, come fall and winter we make it almost every Friday night – and still when we are making it that often I can not use up a jar of sauce before it starts to grow mold! Tomato sauce usually comes in quart size jars – so I thought I can make my own sauce and can it in pint size jars! Wow, really – it took me that long to think that up?! I guess my brain cells are not what they used to be, but really I didn’t think of that when I was 20 years younger – ok – nothing is wrong with my brain cells! Phew!
Since this was my first time making sauce – I did not go overboard.
Tomato, Garlic and Basil Sauce
10 pounds of tomatoes
1 head of garlic
6 – 7 pint size canning jars and lids
Jar lifting tongs
1. Wash your canning jars and lids in a sink of hot, soapy water. If you have a dishwasher you can use that for both washing and sterilizing.
2. Place the clean jars in the canning pot, fill with water and turn the heat on high. When the water boils, turn off, but leave the jars in the hot water bath.
3. In your soup pot, fill about half way and get the water boiling.
4. Wash and dry the tomatoes. I purchased my tomatoes at the farmer’s market – picking the firmest ones.
6. Fill the sink with cold water and ice.
7. When the water is boiling, place several of the tomatoes into the water for about 45 seconds, remove with a slotted spoon and place in the sink. Continue doing this until all the tomatoes have been heated.
8. The above process is to making peeling the skins off the tomatoes easier and it does! Peel the skin off the tomatoes.
9. Cut the tomatoes and remove the seeds and water. You will also want to cut any bruises, spots, and the top off. You want to remove as much water as possible, I did not do this – but I would recommend placing the cut up tomatoes into a colander and allow to drain further.
10. Peel and cut up the garlic. I used a head of garlic that I harvested about a month ago – it peeled so easily.
11. In the soup pot, add some olive oil and saute the garlic until it is slightly browned.
12. Add the cut up tomatoes. Stir and bring to a simmer. Can’t believe I forgot to take a photo, but I did (ok, maybe my brain cells are going a little!)
13. Wash and cut up the basil. How much basil depends on you. I used about 20 leaves. Add to the tomatoes and stir.
14. The tomatoes with cook down – do not cover. You want the water to evaporate in the cooking process – this will make the sauce thicker. The less water you have to start with the shorter time it will take to “cook” the sauce. I was really wishing I had drained the tomatoes further.
15. When the tomatoes have cooked down about 1/3 turn the heat off. Using an immersion blender, puree the sauce. If you do not have an immersion blender, allow the sauce to cool and then puree in a blender.
16. Turn the heat back on and allow to cook down a little more and get thicker.
17. Take the jars out of the water bath and place on a towel on the counter. Turn the burner back on and bring the bath water to a boil.
18. Place the lids of the jars in a small saucepan, cover with water and heat to almost boiling. Turn water off and leave in the water until ready to pour the sauce into the jars.
19. When the sauce it to your liking – turn the heat off and get everything ready to fill the jars.
20. Place the funnel over a canning jar and using the ladle, ladle the sauce into the jar. Fill to just below the neck of the jar.
21. Fill all jars.
22. Pour a tablespoon of lemon juice into each jar, this helps to reduce the chance of spoilage and helps with keeping the color.
23. Place the lids on the jars and then screw the tops on.
24. Using the jar grabber, place the jars back into the boiling bath water. Once the water is back to boiling, let the jars cook for 30 minutes.
25. Pull the jars out with the jar grabber and place on the towel lined counter. Listen for the popping of the jar tops – this is the jars sealing. I love that sound! If a jar does not pop, turn over for about 30 minutes – when you turn it back up-right is should have sealed, if not this is the jar you will use first.
Allow jars to cool completely before storing.