Last summer my heirloom tomatoes did so well that I had a tomato jungle. The plants had grown to monstrous proportions and were producing more tomatoes than my hubby and I could eat or give away, and I must admit that several tomatoes died in the vegetable bin of my refrigerator. 🙁
Then I read a blog (I wish I could remember which one) that said if you planned to make your tomatoes into sauce, just rinse them off and throw them into your freezer – whole! As-is! Then, when you had time you could process them into tomato sauce.
So, that’s just what I did……….. then I forgot about them.
Last week I purchased a bunch of pork chops that were half price at my local store. 🙂 I brought them home and used my sucky machine (aka FoodSaver) to prepare them for the freezer. But when I tried to slide the packages into my deep freeze, I found that I didn’t have any room left! My freezer runneth over! Which is actually a good thing, but….
I kept moving those tomatoes around here and there, trying to find space for the pork chops, but just couldn’t find any. Then it dawned on me. Oh – I’m supposed to make those into sauce! The holidays are over, the garden is asleep, it’s cold outside, so I have no better thing to do at this moment than make tomato sauce!
So, I pulled some bags out and put them on the kitchen counter to start thawing. When I took a few out of the bag, one rolled off the counter and fell to the floor but hit my knee on the way down. Ouch! Heavens to Mergatroid those things are like small cannonballs! I swear, they could be used as lethal weapons! Holy cannoli, it left a serious bruise and I think it dented the floor! Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
Yup – pretty much!
As the tomatoes started to thaw, their skins began to crack and curl just a bit at the edges. I pulled on the skin and it peeled right off! Wow – no more dipping in boiling water for me!
Once I had all the skins off, I just chopped them up and threw them in a large pot. I didn’t bother taking seeds out as it was pretty much impossible with the frozen tomatoes. Even the thawed ones were hard to get seeds out because they pretty much collapsed over themselves. That’s okay. I don’t mind seeds.
I simmered the tomatoes for about 5 hours until the pulp was reduced to about half, so that the sauce would be nice and thick. Also, just for a smoother sauce, I ran half of the pulp through the blender. I didn’t add anything else. No basil. No onions or garlic. Just tomatoes. I figured that it was “safer” that way because I was just going to water bath them in the canner.
However, when I was getting ready to put the sauce in the jars, I did go ahead and put in one teaspoon of salt and one tablespoon of lemon juice per pint – just to be safe. These tomatoes should be acidic enough because they are heirlooms, but I would rather err on the side of caution.
With the tomato sauce in the jars and lids screwed on just finger tight, I placed them into a boiling water bath for the recommended 40 minutes. I ended up with 4 pint jars and about a cup extra, which I put in the fridge to use right away. Now, if I want spaghetti I can add the garlic, onions and basil to the sauce and I honestly think it will taste fresher that way. Or I can make it into pizza sauce – just add a few ingredients and there you go!
I did use two “regular” canning lids and two tattler lids and all four sealed. I am going to wait for at least a month before I use the ones with the tattler lids to see how well they keep their seal, as I am still experimenting with them. So far, so good!
This was such a convenient way to make the tomato sauce and I know this is how I am going to do it in the future – as long as I have freezer space! I didn’t have to take time out of my busy day in the summer while I was gardening, working on the future homestead, remodeling my house, etc.. Instead, I was able to make the sauce in the winter when my life takes a bit of a slower pace!
And seriously, thawing tomatoes almost peel themselves! 🙂
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