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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Friday, September 01, 2006

Roasted Tomato Sauce, Roasted Tomato Zucchini Sauce, Onions & Peppers

This is a busy time of year in the kitchen. The only time activity winds down is if we have plans to get away.


I've mentioned elsewhere that I will process about ten hampers of tomatoes each year then I realized a lot of people don't know what a hamper is. The yellow basket is a hamper. I had already started processing tomatoes when it dawned on me to take the picture. Each hamper is 13 1/2" tall and tapers to 15" diameter at the top. It holds roughly one bushel of tomatoes. I can comfortably process one hamper per day although I have sometimes done two.

I go through a lot of green peppers, garlic and spanish onions during canning season. I've never really kept track of how many green peppers or garlic. The spanish onions come in a 10 lb sack. I'll use about five during the canning season.

Roasted Tomato Sauce

Roasted Tomato Sauce quickly became a family favourite. This is more of a method than recipe. It has just a hint of something that is hard to identify except I know the secret. It is a deep full bodied flavourful sauce sure to please. The sauce is roasted on the grill on low heat for a long period as in about six hours. To make the sauce I use Roma tomatoes, green peppers, spanish onions, garlic and fresh herbs. After roasting the sauce goes through a food mill then is returned to the grill for thickening. The sauce is then pressure canned. Honestly, this sauce is so good and gets such rave reviews my husband thinks I should market it. I can't make enough of it!

Tomato Zucchini Sauce on Grill

Following the success of my roasted tomato sauce I decided to experiment using zucchini. Since I have a lot of zucchini I thought this would be a good way to use some of it. I've done this sauce two ways now, the first being left as chunks and the second being modified slightly for canning. I think this is a fun sauce full of garden fresh flavour. There is a deep richness and heavenly aroma about it. My husband, the ever brave taste tester, gave it two thumbs up and I was lucky to get any into jars. I used Roma and Lemon Boy tomatoes along with garlic, spanish onion, zucchini and fresh herbs. The vegetables were roasted on the grill for about six hours then passed through the food mill and returned to the grill for thickening. The sauce was then pressure canned.

Food Mill

A food mill is essential for making smooth tomato sauces quickly. Now I find mine a bit of a pain to set up but that is because of the design of my kitchen and not the fault of the food mill. Sauce can be done one of two ways. Either cook first then pass through the food mill or pass through the food mill before cooking. There are reasons why the timing of passing through the food mill is important depending on the sauce you are making. Suffice to say passing this sauce through the food mill after roasting is the best way I've found to come up with the desired results.

A food mill is really a necessary piece of equipment when doing large volume canning. It will cut your processing time in half if not more. It removes the seeds and skins of the fruit or vegetable, giving you a nice smooth result. I love it for making applesauce. I simply quarter my apples, cook them then run through the food mill for instant applesauce. No muss, no fuss!

Roasted Tomato Zucchini Sauce in Jars

I love looking at the fruits of my labour especially canning. The jars always sparkle and there is a hidden temptation to open the jar and taste the goodies. I allow the jars to cool overnight then I label the contents on the lid with a sharpie. I don't like using labels on my jars for a couple of reasons. First they are hard to remove and at over four hundred jars they are costly. A sharpie works just fine.


While the tomato sauce was roasting, I took advantage of the time to vacuum seal peppers and onions. Time is valuable in the kitchen right now so there is a lot of multi-tasking going on. I like to keep chopped green peppers on hand for the winter. Right now I can get them five for a dollar and because I buy a lot from this farmer he always throws in one or two extra. While I grow green peppers myself, mine have notoriously done poorly. I have one green pepper out there! My Hungarian Wax and Ancho peppers are doing better with Ancho producing nicely. I've yet to see a Habanero even though the plants look healthy. So I buy my green peppers and whatever I don't use in canning, I freeze up. I like to vacuum seal as that keeps the peppers longer. Peppers are an aromatic so do not need to be blanched before freezing.


Another aromatic that doesn't need blanching is onions. Onions are another crop that just does not do well for me. I'm not sure if they don't like the raised beds or the soil but they just won't grow! I can buy a 10 lb sack of spanish onions from my farmer for $2. I use a lot of onions so like peppers, I freeze in vacuum packs usually in the quantity I will use for a small batch of chili.

11 food lovers commented:

Heather L said...

Oh, those pictures look so yummy! Do you have a recipe for the tomato zucchini sauce, or an idea of how much you used of things?

Garden Gnome said...

Thanks Heather :) I used 4 parts tomatoes to one part zucchini along with one large spanish onion, one large green pepper and a couple of cloves of garlic. Then I added a couple of sprigs of thyme, one regular and one lemon along with a sprig of sweet basil and sprig of rosemary.

Laura said...

Do you have a recipe for the roasted tomato sauce? It sounds fabulous and I have a few tomatoes left! Thanks!

Garden Gnome said...

Hi Laura, there is not actual recipe for the roasted tomato sauce, sorry. For this sauce it's the "roasting" that is most important. The basic ingredients are in the post. I would say about 2/3 tomatoes to 1/3 other ingredients and I prefer using fresh herbs from the garden especially thyme and basil. The method is mentioned on this post and while I always do mine on the grill that gives a bit different flavour the sauce can be done in the oven. As the tomatoes roast, I stir and cut down a bit while adding more. I repeat this until the roaster is filled to overflowing. When the vegetables have been roasted and you do want just a bit of blackening on the edges of the tomatoes I run the sauce through the food mill and process it.


DJ said...

Oh, I am going to save this post. My tomatoes and peppers just sprouted!

Anonymous said...

Hi. The recipes look great. I was looking for information on how long you processed them in the pressure canner --- and at what pressure. You mentioned all the recipes were USDA tested, so I was interested in the specifics on the processing times. Thanks!

Garden Gnome said...

Hi Anonymous and thanks for visiting. All of my tomato sauces are acidified with 1 tbsp or 1/4 tsp citric acid per 500 ml then processing 20 minutes at 10 pounds pressure.

Anonymous said...

Great ideas, garden gnome! I have a few questions about the roasted tomato sauce method. Do you actually roast all of your veggies for that sauce (toms, onions, garlic, etc) first in a roasting pan on a gas grill for 6 hours, then you pass it through a food mi8ll, then you roast it a bit longer on the grill to thicken. I just need a little clarification. Also, do you use oil? I've canned tom sauce in the past with just my normal recipe, which includes olive oil, but more recently I've read that people are hesitant to use oil when canning. I didn't have a problem using oil, just wanted you thoughts. Also, did you use sauce tomatoes specifically? Thanks for your time! On another note, have you ever made salsa in a similar fashion. I haven't had much luck with canning salsa--too watery.

Garden Gnome said...

Hi ohbriggsy and thanks for visiting. Yes all of the vegetables are roasted for 6 hours or so then passed through the food mill and roasted longer to thicken. Oil can be used in very small amounts in canning recipes if properly canned much the same as fats in meats when canning. The reason why oil is frowned upon is because it creates a protective barrier that may protect the botulin bactium.

I did not use sauce tomatoes specifically. I use a specific variety that is grown for commercial purposes. It is not available to the general public. However, any type of tomato will work for this particular sauce with cherry tomatoes giving a lovely result.

I can a lot and I do mean a lot of salsa each year. I do not roast tomatoes for use in salsa. There are pictures in the archives of the tomato based salsa but the recipe is not. That will give you an idea as to the consistency and what the salsa should look like in the jar.

piscesgrrl said...

Hi there, I happened upon this post while searching for a roasted tomato sauce recipe! In reply to ohbriggsy, I can a lot of salsa too. To prevent it from being too watery, after I blanch, peel and chop the tomatoes, I toss them into a colander and let the watery juice drain off for a while (usually while I get other things ready to go for canning). You can actually use the juice water for soup base and such. The tomatoes then have less juice and it cans up nicely! On my 'lazy' years, I don't do this and there is a considerable difference in the liquid! So much better when I take the time to let it drip off. Happy canning everyone!

Garden Gnome said...

Hi Piscesgrrl, I can a lot of tomato products and also drain them but I can that tomato water for tomato stock. It is awesome in gravies!