How To Make Homemade Tomato Sauce

how to make homemade tomato sauce
It’s homemade tomato sauce making time!  Last week-end I made my first batch of tomato sauce for the season. It was delicious I must admit.  I canned 7 quarts of the best homemade tomato sauce on the east coast.  My sauce is versatile, I use for pasta dishes in as chili sauce. The chili was my best pot to date.
I was able to use my garlic and fresh herbs from the garden.  See those white pieces in the sauce below, that’s my home grown garlic.  I used the following ingredients to make 8 quarts of the homemade tomato sauce:
  • 30 lbs of tomatoes (I used a combination of Roma and regular beefsteak)
  • 15 gloves of garlic
  • 1 cup of white onions  (2 medium onions)
  • fresh basil, parsley, and other seasonings to taste
  • 2 cups of sugar or more to taste
  • 2 small cans of tomato paste to help thicken the sauce

 

homemade tomato sauce

 

Step 1 – First, remove the skin from the tomatoes. If you have a sauce maker, now is the time to use it.  I don’t have a sauce maker, so I make my sauce like my grandmother. I remove the skin from the tomatoes by blanching them, and immediately placing them in a large bowl of ice water.  Click here for instructions on how to Blanche Tomatoes.

Step 2 – Next, place the skinless tomatoes into a large bowl.  Squeeze the tomatoes into small pieces. Seeds and all. Yep, that’s my clean hands in the bowl (below) squeezing those tomatoes into pieces.  Most importantly, wear gloves if you’re allergic or feel more comfortable.  However, I mix my sauce and potato salad in this manner.

Breaking the tomatoes into pieces helps the sauce to cook down faster.  Secondly, it keeps the sauce from getting too thick. I like a little movement with my sauce. I can always thicken it later with paste depending on what dish I am preparing.  I’ll show you how to make your own paste in a later post.

Step 3 If you have a sauce maker, you can skip these steps.  The sauce maker removes the skin and seeds from the tomatoes.  If you don’t have a sauce maker, you can follow my steps and remove them by hand. In my opinion, they’re really not that noticeable once the sauce cooks down.

Place a colander into a large bowl or pan.  Place cups of the sauce mixture into the colander and press the sauce down with a spoon until the seeds and juice run out into the bowl.  The holes in the colander will be large enough for it to pass through.

To remove the seeds from the juice you will need a fine wire strainer or sieve. The strainer should allow the juice to run through, but small enough to hold the seeds.  Pour the juice into the strainer to remove the seeds.  Once you get a rhyme going, it doesn’t take long.

Now, add the juice back into the tomato meat and repeat until you have the majority of the seeds removed from the juice and meat of the tomatoes.  You won’t be able to remove 100% of the seeds, but that’s okay,  The seeds enhance the flavor and you won’t even know they’re in the sauce. That’s why I don’t have a sauce maker, I am the sauce maker as grandma used to say!


Step 4 –  Your next step, chop the garlic and onion into fine pieces. If you have a chopper use it, it will save you time. (You can also prepare the garlic and onion ahead of time.)  Cover the bottom of the stock pot with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and heat until it’s hot.  Add the garlic and onion, cook until tender, 2 -3 minutes.  Be careful not to burn it, it will ruin your sauce. Stir it constantly.  In my opinion, homemade sauce is about the garlic, onions and fresh herbs. Besides the love that goes into it.  These ingredients are what separates it from the grocery store sauces.

Step 5 – Pour in the tomato mixture and bring to a boil.

Once it reaching the boiling point, lower the heat.  Next, gradually add in your paste.  I only add 1.5 cans of paste to my sauce with 2 cups of sugar.  You may like the taste of 2 cans and less sugar.  Add your ingredients gradually until you reach desired taste.  Add lots of fresh basil.

Finally, cover your pot and simmer for 5 hours. Be sure to stir it constantly.  You want to make sure the tomato pieces, garlic and herbs don’t fall to the bottom of the pot and stick. The longer you cook it, the thicker the sauce will become. You will want to taste the sauce throughout the cooking process to determine if you want to add more herbs, sugar or additional paste to thicken it.

Also, you can freeze the sauce or can it.  Because I don’t have room in my freezer I choose to can my sauce. I prepared my jars and can the sauce according the directions included with my canner.  I placed 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and 1 teaspoon of Himalayan pink or canning salt in the bottom of my quart jars.

Next, I hot pack quart jars with the sauce and water bath them for 45 minutes.  Or, you can freeze the sauce in quart size freezer bag.  Allow the jar to sit overnight to ensure the jars seal. Once they are sealed, they are ready for the pantry.

Last, save money by freezing or canning homemade tomato sauce for the winter.  Noteworthy,  the sauce takes time so enjoy a glass of wine or play with the kids while you’re preparing.  It’s worth the work and wait.  As a result, the sauce is kid approved.  My grandchildren love it.  Do you make home made sauces?  What’s your favorite sauce?

 

How To Dry Kitchen Garden Herbs

garden herbs, vegetable gardens, preserving garden herbs

I pulled the remaining herbs from the garden today so I can dry them. I’m writing this post, so you can grow and dry your fresh garden herbs too. They’re really easy to grow and adds wonderful flavor to sauces and chili.  The top picture is Greek Basil. I actually dry and freeze my fresh basil.  

 I remove the leaves from my plants and wash them thoroughly.  I than place them on a paper towel to allow them to air dry.  I do the same with my parsley as shown in the picture below.

 

Image-Drying-Basil

 After the herbs have dried, I mark lunch bags with the names of the herbs as shown above. I place the herbs inside the bags and seal them with tape.  Any tape will do, as long as it will hold the bag closed.  I used scotch tape for these. Set the bags in a cool, dry place until they have dried and can be crumbled.  It will take several weeks for them to thoroughly dry, but you should check them to ensure they are drying as expected.  

This is dry dill (below) that has been removed from the bag. Be sure to remove all stems from the herbs before storing.  I use jelly jars from my canning stash to house my herbs.  You can use plastic containers, zip lock bags or any other container that is airtight. You want to keep them dry so they will remain fresh.  

how to dry dill. dill,

 

This is parsley that I have dried.  It’s great on potatoes. It is now airtight and stored in one of my jelly jars.  These are nice to give as gifts too. I add a label and place into a gift basket along with salsa, chips, jam, pickled peppers and cookies for Christmas gifts.

 

preserving gifts, garden gifts

I also freeze my basil. I leave the basil leaves whole so I can crush them into my dishes while cooking. I just grab the bag from the freezer, take out a handful of the leaves and crush them directly into my sauces and chili. Fresh basil smells wonderful and taste even better in dishes.   
Grow a few herbs next season.  You don’t need a large space, small pots in your kitchen window will suffice.  Grow what you use.  Basil, parsley and dill get plenty of use in my house. Happy Gardening!  

 

10 Reasons I Preserve My Garden Vegetables

I

preserving garden vegetables

 

There’s nothing like fresh veggies and fruits that have been preserved for winter use.  Gardening is hard work, but oh so worth it.  I just chopped 2 quarts of belle peppers for the freezer.  Yes, you can freeze peppers.  Here’s how:

  • Wash peppers thoroughly and dry.
  • Remove the core and seeds.
  • Place peppers in a quart freezer bag. Be sure to remove the air from the bag.  To keep the peppers from freezer burn, double bag the peppers.
  • Write the date on the bag with a permanent marker.

I love using fresh belle peppers in my dishes.  The best way to preserve vegetables and fruits is to freeze them. I just place the peppers on a cookie sheet.  Place the sheet in the freezer so the pieces can freeze before placing them in the freezer bag.  However, you can just place them in a freezer bag as shown.  Just give them a good whack with a kitchen mallet to break them apart when I needed.  Check out my other backyard vegetable gardening tips too.

To prevent freezer burn, I double bag them.  You can place them in a quart size bag, and than place the quart size bag in a gallon size freezer bag.  Make sure you get all of the air out of the bag.  Most importantly, make sure your peppers are dry before you freeze them.

Gardening gives me a sense of fulfillment.  Being able to serve organic, fresh veggies and fruits to my family is a blessing.  Each year I preserve herbs, squash, zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, corn, green beans, peaches, apples, jams, applesauce, and cobbler filling.  Here’s why I preserve my harvest:

  1. Fresh vegetables and fruits are more flavorful than grocery store purchases.
  2. I use fresh tomatoes in chili, pasta sauce and salsa during the winter.
  3. Fresh peppers are available for omelets, meatloaves, spaghetti sauces and casseroles etc.
  4. I have fresh garlic available for spaghetti sauce and other dishes.
  5. Fresh apples and peaches available for warm cobblers during the winter.
  6. My vegetables and fruits are all organic.  I don’t know what’s on the vegetables and fruits in the grocery store or where they were grown.
  7. I save hundreds of dollars on my grocery bill.
  8. My family raves about my dishes. It’s the herbs and other fresh vegetables and fruits, but don’t tell them it’s a secret.
  9. Fresh vegetables and tomatoes make the best soups on those cold winter days.
  10. Nothing like fresh herbs to toss in dishes during the winter.

Finally, preserve garden vegetables and fruits too. Planting a tomato plant on your deck or patio, and you will be able to freeze them for winter use.  Not interested in vegetables, how fruits or sunflowers.  So, preserve garden vegetables and fruits for a welcome winter treat.

 

How To Freeze Fresh Corn

 

 

freezing fresh corn

 

Fresh corn will be on the market soon and I can’t wait.  I love it grilled, in soup, in chowder, boiled, you name it.  My favorite is Silver Queen. It’s a late corn, but so worth the wait.  Freezing fresh corn is a yearly ritual for me, but shucking it is another issue.  But, I found a solution and worry no more  The microwave is a life saver when freezing fresh corn.  Continue reading ad you will find out how.  Be sure to check out my other backyard vegetable gardening tips too.

I shucked, boiled, cut and froze about 100 ears last year.  Preparing corn for the freezer is easy and so worth it.  I purchase my corn from a local farmer.  He sells it at a bargain rate. He removes the corn from the stalks the day before he picks it.  So, it doesn’t get any fresher than this. Purchasing it this way saves space in my garden for other goodies too.

 

freezing fresh corn

Once I get it home, the work begins.  I shuck and remove all silk from the corn.  In about batches of 10 – 15, I boil them for about a minute or two in a large stock pot.

 

blanching corn, canning vegetables, vegetable gardening, preserving corn


You will need to prepare an ice batch for these babies.  This should be completed before you start the boiling process.  An ice bath is imperative in your preparation of the corn for the freezer.  You need to remove the cobs from the boiling water after 2 minutes and immediately place them in the ice water.

The ice water will stop the cooking process.  This is important because you don’t want to cook it as if you’re preparing it to eat.  Although I do leave a few cobs in the boiling water, because I do want to eat them, lol.

 

blanching corn, freezer foods, freezer vegetables, freezing corn for freezer


Once the corn has cooled down about 5 – 10 minutes, cut the corn off the cob in a large bowl.  I use an extra large bowl and a chef’s knife to remove the kernels. I also use the corn holders on one end, it makes it easier to handle the corn while removing the kernels.

Once I have the kernels removed from the cob, I pack quart freezer bags.  Buy quality bags and make sure the bags are sealed properly.  I don’t bother to date the bags because they will be gone by spring.  I’m thinking of purchasing a vacuum sealer this year. If you have one, this would be a perfect time to use it.


Image-Removing-Corn-From-Cob

Quart bags are perfect for my household.  I can just pull out a bag for soup, mix with green beans, fry it or however I want to use it.  It’s as fresh as it was the day I purchased it.  Put a few bags in your freezer to use this winter.  You won’t regret it.  Stay tuned for my post on blanching tomatoes and green beans.  
 Image-Freezing-Fresh-Corn
We hope that you have found our tips on freezing fresh corn beneficial.  You may also like our tips on How to Shuck Corn in the Microwave too.