Pasta Sauce 2008

It's canning time again! Yesterday we were supposed to go over to friends' place for supper, but Melissa and I ended up sick (she a lot worse than I) and so yesterday morning we unfortunately had to cancel. After I had a few cups of coffee into me, I decided I wasn't going to let the day go to waste, and headed down to the end of the street to the farmer's market to pick up a bushel of roma (plum) tomatoes. I figured if I was going to be cooped up in the house all day feeling crummy, the very least I could do was something useful. And canning always makes me feel better.

I started processing the tomatoes before I actually knew what I was going to do with them. At that point my head was pretty thick (and no, not from beer for a change) and all I knew was that I needed to put down some form of tomato. I just wasn't sure which form. Pretty much no matter what you do, you have to plunge them in boiling water for 1 or 2 minutes, peel the skin off, cut them open, scoop out the goop from the little chambers, then boil down the flesh. How much you boil it down depends on what you are making. If just canning tomatoes, you just boil it a half hour or so. If making pasta sauce, you have to boil to half it's volume which takes a heck of a long time especially in a big pot with a smallish surface area.

I spent a good 4 or 5 hours at it yesterday, and had process about 2/3 of the bushel. Last night a big pot of tomatoes went into the beer fridge in the shed, and this morning at 7:30 I retrieved it and put it back on the heat. It's pretty much been boiling since then, with tomatoes and other stuff being added periodically.

Here's what I cam up with for a recipe, which is based on last year's but slightly changed.

  • 40 lbs roma tomatoes ( 1 bushel )
  • 2 bunches chopped cilantro ( 4 cups )
  • 3 plants chopped basil ( 2 cups )
  • 2 huge spanish onion, chopped ( 8 cups )
  • 4 cups roasted red pepper goop
  • 7 teaspoons salt (non-iodized)
  • 3.5 teaspoons pepper
  • 6 tablespoons garlic scape goop

The "garlic scape goop" was made from the garlic scapes that I got from my CSA in the spring. Scapes are the long skinny shoots that grow out of the tops of garlic. Farmers trim them off so that the energy of growing goes into the bulb, but the scape themselves are really yummy - kind of like green onions but very garlicy in flavour. I process a whole whack of scapes in the spring in a food processor with olive oil, to get about 4 cups of "scape goop"

The roasted red pepper goop is from - well - roasting red peppers. If you've never done it, look back to about this time last year in my notes and you'll see how it's done. Very easy if a bit time consuming. I bought 1/4 bushel of long skinny sweet red peppers, and used about 2/3 of that in the sauce.

In another half hour or so, I'll be sticking the big pot of sauce into the beer fridge in the basement, and tomorrow evening I'll boil it for another hour or so, then can it up. It's smelling and tasting pretty good right now. At this point, looks like I'll get somewhere around 12 litres of sauce out of it. I may do another batch next weekend.

The tomatoes were $15, peppers $10, basil $5 and cilantro $5, all fresh off the market. The herbs aren't the best price necessarily, but the fruit sure were (yes, tomatoes and peppers are fruit, not vegetables)

UPDATE : 2008.09.16

I'm just canning it up now. My yield was :

  • 17 x 500ml
  • 4 x 1 L

Put it through in 2 batches in my big pressure canner, with room for another half dozen or so small jars in the 2nd batch. Damn that was a good investment a few years back!