Preserving the Harvest: One Pot Tomato Sauce
Last week, we shared a few tips on saving tomato seeds. This week, we’d like to share with you a few tips for saving actual tomatoes!
There are many, many different ways to preserve tomatoes. You may choose to can whole tomatoes, or diced tomatoes. Or fire roasted tomatoes. Or tomato jam, tomato paste, tomato water, etc. But my absolute favorite way to preserve tomatoes is to make up a big batch of plain tomato sauce. I don’t really add seasonings to my tomato sauce: it’s just tomatoes and a little bit of salt and lemon juice. This gives me the flexibility to use my tomato sauce in a variety of different ways. I can use it in soups, stews, and chili. I can transform this plain tomato sauce into marinara sauce, or enchilada sauce. I can use it in casseroles and gratins. There seem to be endless uses for plain old tomato sauce. It’s fabulous.
As for my favorite tomato sauce recipe, I use this recipe from Use Real Butter. As I said before, it’s extremely simple. I only make one major modification to the recipe, but I think it’s an important one: I don’t peel my tomatoes.
The thing is, I hate peeling tomatoes. It’s the one step in the canning process that just feels so unnecessary. I have a tiny kitchen with no dishwasher and I cringe at the thought of dirtying extra dishes (the pot for boiling the tomatoes! the bowl for dunking them in an ice bath!).
So, one day I decided to change the way I make tomato sauce. I quartered all of my tomatoes and placed them in a pot with their skins on. (Before I threw the tomato pieces in the pot, I did a quick de-seeding with my thumb.) I turned the heat on (medium-low) and let the tomatoes cook down in their own juices. I stirred occasionally. And as the tomatoes cooked down, the skins began to separate from the flesh. The skins came off on their own! I simply mashed the tomatoes with the back of my spoon, stirred the pot, and then plucked off and removed the skins as they floated to the top. It takes a few minutes to stir and remove all of the skins, but I firmly believe this is quicker and easier than the boil & ice bath method. Once I’ve removed all (or most) of the skins, I puree the tomatoes with an immersion blender. If there are any spare skins in the pot, the immersion blender usually does the trick. I then let the sauce continue to cook down, until it reaches the desired consistency. (For full canning instructions for the sauce, refer to the recipe from Use Real Butter!)
It’s as simple as that.
I know that peeling tomatoes may seem like a silly thing, but this method revolutionized my tomato canning. It’s a one-pot wonder!