Making canned tomatoes is something families remember years later. Home-canned tomatoes have been a tradition for many generations. In the middle of the winter, you can use the tomatoes to make a fresh spaghetti sauce, lasagna, chili or other tomato-based meals for that fresh garden taste.
My son goes through a quart of pasta sauce a week — that’s 52 jars a year, and that doesn’t include the other times I need canned tomatoes to use for chili, casseroles, stews and soups. So I decided if my tomatoes ever got ripe that I would use my recipe that I have used for the last several years.
Now, I do peel my tomatoes, which is rather time consuming, but you don’t have to. I leave the seeds in, which is one less step for me, and I add tomato paste to thicken my sauce, which speeds up the cooking time overall. Also, don’t use mushy or moldy tomatoes.
BASIL-GARLIC PASTA SAUCE
20 pounds of tomatoes
8 garlic cloves, minced
1⁄4 cup finely minced fresh basil
salt and pepper
3 16-ounce cans of tomato paste
1 tablespoon of olive oil
minced onion (about 1 large)
lemon juice, citric acid or vinegar
a little sugar or honey
This recipe is based on the Ball Blue Book basil garlic tomato sauce.
PREPARE boiling water canner. Heat jars and lids in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil. Set bands aside.
WASH tomatoes; drain. Remove core and blossom ends. Cut into quarters. Set aside.
SAUTE onion and garlic in olive oil until transparent. Add tomatoes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. This is where I add the basil, tomato paste, salt, pepper, oregano and two tablespoons of sugar or honey, all to a large sauce pot. Simmer for another 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
ADD 1⁄4 teaspoon citric acid or one tablespoon of bottled lemon juice to each pint-size hot jar or two tablespoons for each quart-size jar. Ladle hot sauce into hot jars leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe rim. Center hot lid on jar, apply band and adjust until fit is fingertip tight.
PROCESS filled jars in a boiling water canner for 35 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Remove jars and cool. Check for seal after 24 hours. Lids should not flex up or down when the center is pressed.
This recipe is for pint-size jars. So you can double the recipe for quarts or just fill what you have in quart jars and process for 45 minutes in a water bath canner.
Now, off to start gathering the last of the tomatoes, but that is just as long as my son quits feeding them to the pig and chickens.
April Reese is a certified master food preserver through the University of California at Davis. She has been canning and preserving food for more than 15 years. She can be reached at (530) 274-3871 at the A to Z Supply Garden Center or you can email her questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.