Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Twenty-two Pounds of Tomatoes

I bought a "lug" of tomatoes from Lombardi Ranch last week. According to Mrs. Lombardi, a lug is about 22 pounds of tomatoes. I understood why they call it a lug as I hobbled to my car carrying it, a spaghetti squash, a bag of peaches and an Italian cucumber. Whew. Being determined as ever to can my own tomatoes for the season, I donned surgeons gloves and began to skin, seed and chop (actually tear apart) 12 pounds for sauce, which took me the better part of an hour. Finally, with the sauce simmering away, and my giant water bath canner set to boil on the stove, I retreated to the couch to rest my back for a bit. Now I understand why professional cooks wear those ugly clogs and have cork floors. Yikes. When I cook, I usually embellish recipes, or forgo them altogether. But because I have read so much about the dangers of canning tomatoes due to botulism poisoning, that I decided at least for this one thing, I would be a stickler for precision. Even though I enjoy making food "to die for" I certainly don't mean literally!

From my hours of hard work, I managed to put up 7 pints of tomato sauce, which isn't all that much really. I might have another go at it if I can muster the energy before tomato season is over....or maybe I'll wait until next year. My oldest son, who adores Marinara Sauce gave it the thumbs up. I hope to use it over pasta, as a pizza sauce and for recipes that call for stewed tomatoes.

Fresh Tomato Sauce

When preserving ripe tomatoes, it's important to add bottled lemon juice to make sure the mixture is safe for canning. Bottled lemon juice is used instead of fresh because it has a consistent acidity. We prefer the flavor of organic; look for it at natural foods stores.
Makes about six 1-pint jars

Recipe by
Jill Silverman Hough
October 2008


12 1/2 pounds red tomatoes, peeled, seeded, coarsely chopped (about 20 cups), divided
1 cup finely chopped shallots
1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
1 1/2 teaspoons dried marjoram
1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed slightly
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Sugar (optional)
6 tablespoons bottled lemon juice (preferably organic)


Combine 4 cups tomatoes and next 6 ingredients in large stockpot. Stir over medium-high heat until tomatoes begin to release juice, about 5 minutes. Bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer until mixture is thickened, stirring frequently, about 20 minutes. Add remaining tomatoes; increase heat to high and bring to rolling boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium; simmer until mixture is reduced to 11 cups, stirring frequently, about 30 minutes. Season with more salt and pepper, and with sugar to taste, if desired.

Pour 1 tablespoon lemon juice into each of 6 hot clean 1-pint glass canning jars. Spoon sauce into jars, leaving 1/2-inch space at top. Remove air bubbles. Wipe jar threads and rims with clean damp cloth. Cover with hot lids; apply screw bands. Process jars in pot of boiling water 35 minutes. Cool jars completely. Store in cool dark place up to 1 year.

No comments: