Sunday, October 2, 2011

Preserving Experiments 3 and 4

Okay, my two not quite normal preserving experiments were both, in my opinion, a big success.  Pickled watermelon rinds and zucchini relish may not be the most useful things to preserve for the winter, but they were both tasty which has increased my confidence.  And, almost all of the jars sealed properly (I missed one) which made me feel like this really is something I can do.  Also, hearing the jars close is fun, which is enough motivation for me!

Time to make something useful.  Also, I purchased a giant canning pot.  Time to make something in mass quantities.

To be fair, I'm not 100 percent happy with how either of these recipes turned out.  I started with the tomato-basil sauce, because I have a lot of basil and because it is out of my preserving book, so I trust it.  I'm always a little nervous pulling canning recipes off of the internet - because I'm never sure that the person writing the recipe knows what they're doing (pretty sure you should be concerned about that too... maybe you should wait until next year before trying any canning recipes off of this site.  I promise to report back if I get the Botch.)

Also, unfortunately, I do not have pictures of finished products.  I will be sure to get that as soon as I eat some spaghetti!!

I did not (shockingly) (<- Sarcasm) read the recipe well enough before starting to realize that this is not a spaghetti sauce.  The recipe says tomato sauce.  But for some reason, in my head, I read spaghetti sauce.  I like a chunky spaghetti sauce, and this is not.  This is, consistency wise, exactly what you would get if you purchased a can of tomato sauce from the store.   It tastes better than that, and is no doubt better for you, but not at all chunky.  I wouldn't change the recipe, necessarily, I just feel it's important to know what you're getting.  And I don't trust people to read a recipe because, well, I don't.

So, I after that I found a recipe for chunky tomato sauce on the internet.  Or, more specifically, I found about 10 recipes and combined them into one I liked.

My only regret on the spaghetti sauce is that it's too dry.  It could really stand to be mixed with a half pint of the tomato sauce.  SO, if you make both of these, put the tomato sauce into half pint jars.  I have a few half pints, but mostly I put it into pints which I think would give me too much when mixed with the spaghetti sauce.

Anyway, next time I think I won't remove the seeds and juice from the peeled tomatoes in the spaghetti sauce recipe.  It takes too long and I think the recipe needs the extra juice.  This was my first experience peeling tomatoes with the boiling water/ice water method.  I have seen method described on many a cooking website and cooking show, and have ignored it in countless numbers of recipes because it seems like WAY too much work, and I don't mind tomato peels in my food.  But, I wanted to do it here because the recipe called for it, and, as I've said many times, I am terrified of messing with canning recipes at the risk of making everyone I know sick.

I'm glad I did it.  It was SO easy.  Not at all the extensive project I imagined.

Take your tomato and cut a small "x" into the bottom.  It doesn't have to be neat, or perfect, you're just telling the skin where you want it to split.  It didn't seem to matter if I slipped and cut deeper into the tomato, either.

Get a large pot of water boiling, and place a bowl (or in my case I used another large pot) next to it, full of ice water.  A few at a time, drop the tomatoes into the boiling water, and allow to boil for 2 minutes.  Fish the tomatoes out, and transfer to the bowl of cold water.  Allow the tomatoes to sit in the ice water for a few minutes.

At this point, directions say that the peel will just slide off.  Yeah, right (I always thought).  No, really.  That is right.  My thought was sarcasm, but the reality is that they DO slide right off.  You can easily see where you sliced the bottom, because the skin has started to peel back, and if you hold it at the other end and squeeze gently, the tomato pops right out like a banana in a cartoon!  It's fun.  I'll do it again, mostly just because it's fun.  If you have kids, this would probably be a good job for them - as long as you don't mind some of the tomatoes rolling around naked on the floor.
I did not use my tomatoes for either of these recipes.  The cold weather has made my garden really slow down, so while it's full of tomatoes, they are all green and show no sign of ripening any time soon.  I did, however, buy a HUGE box of less than pretty tomatoes from the farmer's market for cheap.

Tomato-Basil Sauce
From The Art of Preserving 

Makes 6 pints.

There is no need to peel these tomatoes, as they are being pushed through a sieve.  Or if you're fancy use a food mill.  If you're extra fancy (and nice) you could buy me a food mill too!!
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oli
  • 4 yellow onions, coarsely chopped (L)
  • 6 cloves garlic, smashed (L)
  • 10 lbs tomatoes, cut into chunks (L)
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped basil (L*)
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar (5% acidity or higher)
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
Have ready hot, clean jars and their lids.

In a large nonreactive saucepan over medium heat, warm the oil.  Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, 5-7 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes longer.

Add the tomatoes and the wine.  Raise the heat to high and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until reduced by half.  (The book said this should take 1 hour.  It took me 3.5 hours.  So... be prepared for that!)

Pass the tomato mixture through a coarse-mesh sieve set over a clean, large nonreactive saucepan (or pass it through a food mill).  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the sauce reaches the desired consistency.  Stir in the basil, vinegar, salt, and pepper.  Tase the sauce and adjust the seasonings to taste.

Ladle the hot sauce into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace.  Wipe the rims clean and seal tightly with the lids.  

Process the jars for 30 minutes in a boiling water bath.  Sealed jars can be stored in a cool, dark place for up to one year.  If a seal has filed, store the jar in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Chunky Spaghetti Sauce for Canning
Makes 12 pints.
  • 15  lbs Red Tomatoes (L)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 6 medium onions, chopped (about 6 cups) (L)
  • 2 bulbs garlic, cloves smashed (L)
  • 1/8 cup kosher salt 
  • 5 cups green bell peppers chopped (L)
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped (L*)
  • 2 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped (L*)
  • 1 tbsp fresh basil, chopped (L*)
  • 4 whole bay leafs
  • 2 tsp fresh ground pepper

Have ready hot, clean jars and their lids.

Remove tomato skins through method described above.  If you want (I don't recommend it) remove the seeds and squeeze out some of the juice.  Chop the tomatoes coarsely.

In a large, non reactive pot, heat olive oil.  Add onions and saute over medium low heat for about 15 minutes, or until onions start to caramelize.  Add garlic and cook an additional 5 minutes.  Add remaining ingredients, stirring to combine, and turn heat up to medium high.  Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and continue to simmer for 1 hour.

Ladle scalding hot sauce into hot sterilized pint canning jars, clean rims of jars and seal according to manufacturer's instructions. Process jars for 35 minutes for quarts and pints in a boiling water bath.

1 comment:

  1. And now I'm picturing my kids chasing naked tomatoes around the kitchen floor!

    I've wanted to try and make my own tomato sauce, maybe this is my recipe. Next year when hopefully we actually manage to grow more than 2 tomatoes! We didn't even make salsa this year.

    (And yes, I'm really far behind on my reading!)