Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Saucy Situation

There was a saucy situation going down in my kitchen today...

I received an email from OSU Extension Agent Ross Penhallegon, advising me to pick tomatoes and use them in sauce immediately. The weather we've been experiencing in Oregon lately has been less than ideal for growing tomatoes.

Heat, rain, heat rain... that makes for a lot of cracked, pathetic, and confused tomatoes.

I decided to get crackin' myself and whip out a batch of sauce.

We use this sauce for everything... pastas, pizzas, calzones, lasagna... it's a wonder sauce. It's fabulous.

The recipe comes from Barbara Kingsolver's Book, "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" - a must read if you haven't done so already.

She calls it her...


Dun dun dun duuuuuuuunnn...


Straight from the book: 'The point of this recipe is to make a large amount at one time, when tomatoes are in season. If you are canning it, stick closely to the recipe; adding additional fresh vegetables will change the pH so it's unsafe for water-bath canning. If you're freezing it, then it's fine to throw in peppers, mushrooms, fresh garlic, whatever you want. This recipe makes 6-7 quarts - you can use any combination of pint and quart canning jars or freezer boxes."

I got 10 quarts out of my batch, and only did one thing different than the recipe calls for.

I let my simmer.

Overnight. All night. The whole night. Night entirety.

It was a glorious smell to wake up to. Really.

Here's what you'll need:

10 quarts tomato puree (about 30 lbs of tomatoes) - And if you're a little slow like me, that's 40 cups. That's how I measured mine out. While I was washing the tomatoes, I cored them and then I chucked them in my blender and frapped the suckers. It felt good. 
4 large onions, chopped
1 cup dried basil
1/2 cup honey
4 Tablespoons dried oregano
3 Tablespoons salt
2 Tablespoons ground dried lemon peel - I didn't have any so I left it out. So there.
2 Tablespoons thyme
2 Tablespoons garlic powder (or more, to taste) - I used the 2T garlic powder, plus about 3T garlic salt. Cause I'm crazy. And I have a husband who hates sweet sauce but loves garlic. Can you blame him?
2 Tablespoons dried parsley
2 teaspoons pepper
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Soften onions in a heavy kettle (I used my big aluminum stock pot) - add a small amount of water if necessary but NO OIL IF YOU ARE CANNING.

Add pureed tomatoes.


Add all seasonings.

Bring to a boil, and simmer on low heat for two to three hours until sauce has thickened to your liking. Stir frequently, especially toward the end, to avoid burning.

This is where I changed things up a bit. I let the sauce simmer all night long. Aaaalllll niiiiggghhhttt loooong! Aaaalll niiigghht. Okay I'm done singing. 

I can let things simmer all night long for two reasons: 

1. I have a natural gas stove. I wouldn't recommend doing this on an electric range - ask my sister how that fares. 

2. I am pregnant. Let me rephrase that... I am hugely, ginormously,8 months, fatty fatty type pregnant... which means I don't sleep so good. I toss and I turn and even when I can get comfortable and I don't have to pee, I still wake up at 3 am just for kicks and find myself fully alert and energized. I swear that's my body preparing me for late-night feedings. Anyways, I'm not complaining - I still get enough sleep - but I can get up several times in the middle of the night to stir sauce and not think twice about it. Last night D woke up and I was just sitting in bed, staring off into space. He looked at me like I was nutso and in only a way D could, asked sincerely, "Everything okay?" He's so sweet. I let him know I was just contemplating the meaning of life and that he was free to go back to sleep. Don't mind the crazed fat lady sitting next to you. Dream away. 

Where was I? 

Oh yes. I can leave sauce simmering. You may not be able to. If you cannot, follow Barbara's recommendation. If you can, praise the Heavens because it means you can break this saucy situation into two days. Excellent. Procrastination at its finest. 

This morning I collected my canning things, fed the child in the high chair, and started filling quart jars. 10 quarts of sauce is easy shtuff. 

If you can't simmer when the sun's down, continue the process as follows... 

Meanwhile, (this is back when you've added your seasonings and such to your sauce... I'm almost positive you forget where I left you) heat water in canner bath, sterilize jars in boiling water or dishwasher (what's that?) and pour boiling water over jar lids.

SIDE NOTE: Make canning easier on yourself, and use a couple of tricks that women have used since the dawn of time. They're tried and true, and they are glorious. I like easy. Easy peasy. 

1. Steal your paper towel holder. use it to hold your rings so you're not chasing them all over the counter. They're slippery little buggers. 

2. Don't run your jars through the dishwasher every time you're going to use them. Run them under hot water for a  moment, drain them, and then stick them in the oven at about 250 degrees. I promise by the time you use them, there will be nothing living. And then they're piping hot when you put what you're canning into them. Love it.

Bottled lemon juice or citric acid - NOT optional!

Add 2 Tablespoons of lemon juice OR 1/2 teaspoon citric acid to each quart jar (half that much to pint jars). This ensures that the sauce will be safely acidic.

When the sauce is ready, ladle it into hot jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace.

Cap jars, lower gently into the canner and boil for 35 minutes. Remove, cool, check all seals, and store for winter.


Voila! You  have Super Sauce!!!!

And thank you Barbara Kingsolver!!


  1. I just threw out six pints that I hadn't water bath canned...just poured the sauce hot into the cans and capped them. It was Mom's idea. I almost died. Mine are all coming ripe now though, so this will probably be my project this next week. I hadn't thought of Kingsolver's recipe though, what a great idea! It looks so much better than the first stuff I made.

    Did you skin the toms or just blend them all up? I have an apple saucer I will probably use.

    AND I LOVE the new backgrounds. Good choices. Makes me want to go light a fire and read a book.

  2. Oh no! Faith don't die!! Mom got her recipe from the Kingsolver book - but I think she forgot that she processed them. If she didn't I'm worried - because these had to process for 35 minutes - it's not like we're talking a frivolous, 5 minute processing time here. Anyways - glad you didn't die. Did they start to mold? Or did you just begin to worry about your life in general?!?!

    I didn't take the skins off. They blended BEAUTIFULLY!! I was worried about using the blender at first, but all I had to do was mash a couple soft tomatoes in my hand, shove them deep into the bottom, and once there was a little pureed tomato down there, I could add and add and they got all frothy and it was glorious.

    I'm so glad you like the new backgrounds. I am done holding on to Summer. It's Fall already. And it's rainy here. Is it really going to be 80 degrees next week in SLC??! That would be wicked awesome. And I'm SO excited for D to see the area as the leaves are turning! Yay!!!!

    Love you. 5 days!!

  3. SOO THIS is what you were up to Thursday!! haha! Awesome!!