Friday, August 10, 2007


I usually have tomatoes coming out of my ears this time of year. The drought took care of that problem for me. I still have three tomato plants surviving, but they probably won't do anything until September...or if the rains come back. It's shaping up to a dry August.

But last year, I had more brandywine tomatoes than I could handle. And lots of fresh basil and very spicy oregano growing in the garden. I had been doing most of my fruit and vegetable straining the old fashioned way, through a colander, but I treated myself to a Victorio Food Strainer last year. This is a must have kitchen gadget if you are going to do canning of sauces, fruit butters or any such thing that you are dealing in bulk amounts of tomatoes, apples or berries.

Making your own marinara from absolute scratch is actually very easy. I didn't really follow a recipe for this so I don't have a recipe to share with you. I was making it for canning so I kept it fairly simple. Oils and meat can safely be added when you decant the sauce to prepare. You know how you like your marinara...so be creative with your spices and ingredients. If you plan to can sauce with meat, that involves pressure canning...doable, but you need to make sure you know your pressure and timing to keep it in the canner. This information is readily available in The Ball Blue Book.

Start with fresh vine ripe tomatoes, preferably from a home garden. Blanch them for about 15 minutes. I prefer to put mine in a colander and steam them over a pot of boiling water until they are slightly soft and releasing their juices. Then transfer your tomatoes to the foodmill. Mill out the pulp and you will have a lovely thin tomato juice with very fine pulp. Transfer this to a large stainless pot and reduce on low until the juice develops into a sauce. This will take hours. As I said...this is very easy...but somewhat time consuming. The good news is that you don't have to stand over it the entire time.

Add your spices toward the last few hours of the cooking down process. Be very careful with strong Mediterranean spices since they can turn bitter if cooked too long. This should not be a problem if you are dealing in fresh herbs but dried can be a bit of a problem. Tomatoes can vary widely in acidity, so to be on the safe side, do add a few tablespoons of citric acid. This will preserve color and make them safer for hot water bath canning.

One of the wonderful things about doing this is the intoxicating smell of the sauce as it is cooking. Keep a loaf of Italian bread and some olive oil handy for sampling.

When it is just how you like it, decant into quart jars and seal. Then process in a boiling water canner for about 15 minutes.

I still have plenty left over from last year's canning adventure....so this year's disappointing tomato crop is no great loss.

Manga!

1 Comment:

  1. Karen said...
    Our summers here are very hot and dry, and I always thought it made my tomatoes more potent...

    On a sad note, the neighbor's evil dogs killed momma goat today. She put her head through the fence ri munch grass, and, well...It was horrible. I called animal control and the sheriff (which I didn't do when they killed our cat or chewed up our dog), and when Richard got home and we went out to the pasture, they came out and told us they were getting rid of the dogs tomorrow.

    Bad people, bad dogs--poor Momma Goat.

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