Lazy Summer Tomato Sauce
When it rains, it pours…tomatoes? Remember how I said I ended up with 15 flourishing, healthy, and producing tomato plants? Well, right now is when they’re a’burstin’ with fruit and I’m drowning in cherries, reds, romas, and purple Cherokees. I loved all of you guys’ suggestions for what to do with the bounty, and some of them will make an appearance here, but, I have to admit, that since there’s nothing like turning twenty pounds of tomatoes into a rich, spicy sauce for eating sometime this fall or winter, I just had to go ahead and can up a bunch of sauce.
The recipe is, well, more of a guideline. I happened to have about 17-20 pounds of tomatoes on hands–a mix of the Virginias, Purple Cherokees, and Romas–and the rest of the ingredients, minus the lemon juice, are all suggestions depending on how spicy or how basily you like your sauce. And you might notice that my technique is slightly different than most–I don’t bother to skin or seed the tomatoes. That’s far too much work for me; I’m a seriously lazy person. Instead, I just dice them up, cook the down, add what I feel like, add lemon juice, can, and process. And, seriously, on hot days like we’ve all been having, who wants to spend extra time over the stove, boiling and then peeling tomatoes? Just go with the flow with this sauce and you really can’t go wrong.
Lazy Summer Tomato Sauce
15-20 lbs fresh-from-the-garden/farm tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
4-6 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tbsp dried basil (or fresh basil, minced, to taste)
1.5 tbsp dried oregano (or fresh oregano, minced, to taste)
1 tbsp aleppo pepper (more or less, to taste)
2 tbsp salt
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/4 c strong brewed coffee (my not-so-secret-anymore ingredient)
lemon juice (if canning)
In a large stock pot, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and saute 4-6 minutes, until soft. Add the minced garlic and cook 30 seconds more, until fragrant.
Add the chopped tomatoes and raise to a boil. Lower to a low simmer.
Add the spices, herbs, and coffee, and simmer for 1-2 hours until your desired consistency is reached. Stir every now and then to make sure the sauce isn’t burning and sticking to the bottom. (This part takes time and patience–you want the burner super low and the sauce just simmering.)
If canning, fill sterilized jars with the sauce, leaving 1/2″ headroom. Add 1 tbsp lemon juice per pint. Process for 35+ minutes, depending on your altitude as determined by the USDA guidelines.
My batch made 8 pints + 3 cups extra that I froze (I can only fit 8 pint jars in my canner). The size of the batch, of course, depends on the consistency, so everyone’s will be different. Unlike many canning recipes, tomato sauce has a lot of room for personalization–feel free to add whatever ingredients jazz your boat, just remember to add the lemon juice if canning! You need the acidity to keep the sauce viable for use in the future.