Such a lazy blogger I’ve been. Garden, historical society, lots of life things got in the way for a while. There are my only excuses. But it’s time to write about an annual event.
All summer I pick the best tender leaves off the top of my basil plants and freeze them in a bag, cos in the fall it will be time to make tomato sauce. You can freeze them whole after they’ve been washed and dried on towels, cos when you get them out of the freezer, they will break up when you smash them in the bag.
The best tomatoes go into the tomato sauce. When they start to ripen, I take them off and freeze them in big bags. Once the garden is all done and cleaned up, one cold day it’s time to make the sauce.
It’s easy to freeze tomatoes. For years I blanched them and removed the skins before I froze them. Then another gardener convinced me that was a waste of time and I should do it the easier way. If you wash them, let them dry on towels, then core them, you can just put them whole into bags and freeze. When they are thawed, of course they’ve gone mushy, but the skins literally slide right off. Easy is good!
I think it’s appropriate to use some old tools to do an old time thing like making tomato sauce. I have quite a few kitchen antiques that were my mother’s and grandmother’s. The tools and some dishes were rescued out of my mother’s house when she had to leave to go to a nursing home. The small tools, lost and hidden away in the back of drawers at her house, not used in years, are still very handy in a modern kitchen.
Grandma’s potato masher is just right for mashing the tomato pieces after they start to cook.
Tomatoes go into the big stock pot with the basil, onion if you want it, some garlic powder, and also some dried basil. (I like basil.)
Then you simmer it all, for probably about 3 hours, till it has reduced itself to maybe 2/3 what it was at the beginning. They smell like raw tomatoes when you put them in the pot, and for about an hour……and then, your whole kitchen starts to smell like a good Italian restaurant. I don’t like to taste it for about 2 hours, till all the raw taste is really gone and you get to taste the subtle flavors of basil and garlic. Then you can really tell if you need to add more of either of them, or anything else you might want to add. I only add a pinch of oregano, cos not all my sauce goes into Italian dishes: sometimes I also use it in soups that I wouldn’t want the flavor of oregano in.
Let it simmer and stir it occasionally. You’ll be able to tell whether it has simmered long enough by the thickness, and it will depend somewhat on the type of tomatoes you started with. In a few hours you have a nice batch of tomato sauce, made with your own ingredients (even if you had to buy the tomatoes etc. cos you don’t garden.) You know what’s in it, and what’s not, like a bunch of chemicals.
I haven’t canned anything in years so I freeze my sauce in 1 or 2 serving plastic containers. In the winter, when it’s hatefully cold outside, some good recipes with a container of my own sauce taste so good.