This week is all about using up summer vegetables. Whether you grow your own, or have to buy, now is the time to take advantage of the fresh and cheaper summer vegetables. I love this recipe as the sauce is delicious, and it can be bottled for use all year round. The recipe is something I have pulled together from a local tomato sauce recipe made here in the village. I will explain how to make the sauce and how to bottle and sterilise it for long term storage. The method is simple and works, none of my jars have ever gone off, even though I store them for many, many months.
Initially I made the local tomato sauce according to the local recipe. The first year a couple of our neighbours came round and showed us how to make it and indeed helped us with the recipe itself. The recipe is relatively simple, but as they make humongous quantities it does take quite a bit of effort…… in one day they make enough tomato sauce for the whole year!
Nevertheless I made it their way for a couple of years, buying an enormous pan and a special gas burner for the job. I would set up in the garden to cook enough for around 100 jars of tomato sauce. Eventually though I decided I wanted something that was less effort and used up more of the other vegetables I have readily available at this time of year. Their “Tomato Sauce” morphed into my “Tomato Pasta Sauce”.
Firstly I started adding in what I had available, so my recipe has my garlic, onions and green peppers too. I have also added a number of herbs, again I had them available in the allotment and I think they add to the flavour of the finished sauce.
As I have said, here they tend to make one enormous batch. This is a lot of work, but more importantly they have to buy large amounts of tomatoes. I have opted for smaller batches using my own home-grown tomatoes. Every time I have some available, I make a batch. I tend to make a batch every time I have 3Kg, because this fills 7 jars which fit just nicely into my pressure cooker for sterilising.
They peel the tomatoes, and with the enormous batches they make this is a long and arduous job! They then use an electric hand blender to make the sauce. I decided not to peel the tomatoes, use an electric hand blender as they do, then I use a manual food mill to remove any bits of peel that are left over.
Tomato (Pasta) Sauce
Makes 2 jars
1 Green pepper
2 Garlic cloves
1 Kg Tomatoes
2½ ml Salt
2½ ml Sugar
1 Sprig Thyme
1 Sprig Sage
1 Bay leaf
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp Fresh Basil
Roughly chop the garlic, onion and green pepper then fry in a generous amount of olive oil until soft.
Meanwhile, roughly chop the tomatoes.
Add into the pan with the salt, sugar, thyme, sage and bay leaf. Cook for 30 minutes covered and then open the pan and continue to simmer gently until the liquid starts to reduce. The more you reduce the liquid, the thicker the tomato sauce. I leave it until it is just starting to thicken, as puréeing the solids in the next step will further thicken the sauce.
Purée the mixture with an electric blender
then by hand in a food mill to remove any remaining peel.
Add in some freshly ground black pepper then check seasoning and adjust as necessary.
Mix in some freshly chopped basil.
Put the jars to heat in the oven at around 100ºC. I also pour boiling water over the lids then dry just before use.
Ladle the sauce it into the hot bottles whilst the tomato sauce is still hot. Carefully screw on the lids, tightening all the way. I know some people don’t fully tighten the lids at this stage, I do and have never had any problems.
Put the jars in a pressure cooker and pour in boiling water to fully cover the jars, including the lids. Close and seal the pressure cooker and heat until the pan reaches the required pressure.
The higher the pressure, the higher the temperature, the less time the jars need. In a pressure cooker that can reach 15 pounds pressure, leave for 10 minutes. Once the time has been reached remove from the heat and let the pan cool naturally until it is safe to open.
Remove the jars from the pan and store in a cool dark place.
For more on sterilising temperatures, and the use of standard or pressurised pans, see my comments below.
I always reuse the jam jars. Although some people do, I never reuse the metal lids. The rubber inside the lids can deteriorate and therefore not seal the jars properly. Although buying new lids is an additional cost, it does ensure a hermetic seal and a long storage time.
There are some excellent reference works out there on food storage (canning), the differences between storing fruit and vegetables and the different pans and sterilising times. I would recommend the following books for their clarity, scientific approach and price (they are free!):
USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) – Principles of Home Canning
There are a number of guides that each focus in on a different aspect of canning. They can be downloaded for free, in digital format, from the National Center for Home Food Preservation at: http://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/publications_usda.html
tsp – Teaspoon – 5ml
tbsp – Tablespoon – 15ml
Imperial to Metric Measurement:
1 oz – 28g
1 lb – 16 oz – 454g
1 gill – ¼ pint – 142ml
2016 Lincoln W. Betteridge