August 26 was this year’s Tomato Sauce day!
This year, for the first time ever, I did it WITH someone – from start to finish. My friend and neighbour at the cottage, Lee Ann dropped by in the middle of it last year, took a few cranks of the press, and it would seem she was hooked. This year she wanted a bushel for herself, so it meant a total of 4 bushels.
I was a bit skeptical about the first bushel. I had heard that because of this summer’s heat that tomatoes were ripening a lot faster and that farmers need to pick them quickly and sooner. It wasn’t a surprise that about 5% of them were too far gone. They were however, really ripe! The remaining bushels were, however in great shape – I need not have worried.
One change I made this year was around the salt. I guessed that each litre would probably want a teaspoon of salt. When I did the math on it, it came out to 800g – and I thought – this is not quite right. So in the initial mash, we did only 400g (remember this is over 4 bushels/80 litres), intentionally undersalting them. Once the full bushel was pressed and cooking away, then we did the ‘salt test’ carefully bringing up the salt until we felt it was ‘just right’ – it augmented the flavour without actually tasting salty. The result was amazing. I’m not sure how much I can credit the salting, or the ripeness, or boiling it down a little bit more, or what – but we got the best results ever!
There was another change this year. To this point I have chopped up the onions myself, with a knife. This year, I left the job to my beautiful new Cuisinart processor and its slicing attachment. Not only faster, it cut the onions and garlic into much thinner slices than I can effectively do myself over such a large quantity. It meant that in the cooking they dissolved easier, suffusing their flavour and sweetness more thoroughly into the sauce. A couple of people have observed that this year’s vintage is indeed sweeter. Perhaps this is why.
Here is the ‘recipe’ for what we did:
- 4 bushels (MUST BE ROMA) tomatoes
- 8 pints large onions
- 10 large bulbs garlic
- approximately 1/4 cup each of basil, oregano thyme
- 20 or so bay leaves
- enough sunflower oil to cook the mash – a cup or so.
- 2 tbs pepper
- 400g (.5tsp/litre) salt – check to taste later
Other stuff needed
- 2 full bbq tanks
- 1 large boiling pot
- 1 large cooking pot
- 2 outdoor 50k btu burners
- 2 -3 small tables
- milk cartons to transport finished sauce
- 1 large spoon
- 80 L of jars – 1 L, 1.5 l sizes
- 2 tongs – canning tongs and bbq tongs
- 4 l measuring cups
- sharp knife
- hose and water
- oven mits
- tomato press
- (the night before) Cut onions, garlic – food processor with slicing attachment used
- Prepare jars, separating lids, tops and jars. Discard any questionable lids. Place lids in a collander that can be easily inserted then removed from boiling water.
- Add in spices and oil
- Cook mash until onions are translucent
- Divide mash into bowls according to how many bushels you have
- Set up: make sure the grinding operation and 2 burners form a triangle around you – about 1.5 metres apart
- The grinder must be on a firm surface with space. There needs to be a place for the seeds to fall, and a surface for the sauce to drop. There needs a place for the breadboard and knife to the right of the grinder, a pot of rinse water beside it, and a platform for the bushel basket to sit on above the pot.
- Fill the canning pot half way up with water, and put in the jars.
- Pour one patch of herb mash in the cooking pot, and begin grinding the tomatoes, adding to the mash. Light the burner once the first bowl of tomato juice has been prepared. Keep on a high boil, stirring frequently. (This is the key to a thick and reduced sauce). Once the bushel has been ground and is cooking, taste and adjust for salt.
- Reduce the sauce – full boil while stirring for about 30 minutes
- Remove heated jars and lids from the canning pot and fill leaving 1/4″ at top
- Place caps on, boil for 25 minutes. Let cool, make sure all the lids have popped down.
Here are a few pics….