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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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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Processing Tomatoes (Day 1) & Pizza Sauce Recipe

I had planned on getting an early start processing tomatoes yesterday and while I was up early, I didn't start tomatoes until mid-morning. It was a beautiful, warm autumn day with no breeze. I took one look at my nice white countertops and decided using the food mill outdoors would be a great idea. It was also a practical idea as the counters are now ⅞ inch higher after the renovation meaning I would have to be standing on my step stool to run the food mill, not quite a pleasant position when processing a lot of tomatoes.

Outdoor Setup

I set up the food mill on one of the picnic tables just off the covered patio the kitchen opens onto. I had a pleasant view of the water and the warmth of the sun's kisses while I worked so it was quite relaxing. What I notice was it was a lot easier to use the food mill when set to the lower level of the picnic table. The seat made a dandy leg rest for shifting weight while working. Another thing I noticed was there was very little mess.

Pictured is my outside set-up. Not pictured are the bar towels that I used to cover the food mill hopper and shoot as I transported tomatoes from the kitchen and the purée to the waiting stock pots. I washed the tomatoes in the kitchen. Field tomatoes tend to be dirty resulting in dirt pieces on both the countertop and floor. This was easily kept in check with my hand held vacuum cleaner as well as wiping the counter. I should mention that I'm a firm believer in clean as you go whether it be cooking or home preserving.

Tomato Purée

A food mill is essential for making smooth tomato sauces. I'm still using a manual food mill but plan on buying the food mill attachment for my KitchenAid® stand mixer. A food mill consists of a hopper (where you put the food), an auger covered with a screen (the work part of the food mill), a wide shoot where the purée exits and a funnel shaped shoot where the waste exits.

Pictured is the first bowl of tomato purée for 2008. Tomato purée has a deep, rich, orangy-red colour that is just a beauty to behold. It's enough to tantalize the taste buds and that's before turning it into mouth watering sauces. Two hampers were processed into tomato purée with the third hamper left until the following morning.

Day's End

A large portion of the tomatoes I process are made into various sauces and convenience products for the pantry. The reason for this is I enjoy convenience as much as anyone else. The only difference is I prefer homemade convenience. I also prefer to make sauces our family likes that you can't find in the stores and I like to put them into jar sizes that will be used entirely when I use them.

Kitchen Tip: Lately there has been a lot of talk about BPA (Bisphenol A) in plastics marked with 7 or PC in the recycle symbol. However BPA also is found in the coated liner of some tomato products. BPA leaches from the plastic when exposed to high heat, acid foods/drinks and harsh detergents. Any commercially canned food is exposed to high heat and some foods are high acid so the BPA in the coated liner can leach into your foods simply through the commercial canning process. As more and more is known about the effects of contaminates such as BPA and the health effects of food additives and preservatives, home canning and freezing becomes a viable solution. The glass mason jars are inert so you never have to worry about anything leaching into your food.

Yesterday's yield from 2 hampers of tomatoes was:

  • 8 - 250 ml jars pizza sauce (1)
  • 3 - 500 ml jars pizza sauce (1)
  • 3 - L jars plain tomato sauce (2)
  • 16 - 500 ml jars meatless pasta sauce (3)
I pressure canned (PC) the tomato products for two reasons. First, pressure canning increases the antioxidant properties of lycopene so it is a healthier product. Second, sauces processed in a boiling water bath (BWB) canner take 35 minutes for 250/500 ml jars and 40 minutes for L jars with burner on high heat. Processing using a pressure canner takes 7 minutes vent time (high heat) and 15 minutes (setting 7.5) for 250 to L sized jars. So not only am I saving time by pressure canning I'm also saving electricity (every kW counts) at 22 minutes per load verse 35 to 40 minutes per load. My cost for electricity goes from 6¢ - 8¢ per load down to 4¢ per load, clearly not a huge amount but consider as many as 4 or 5 loads per day over the period of just tomato season. At an estimated 10 days averaging 3 loads per day I'm saving 60¢ to $1.20 as well as reducing my carbon footprint. However, those savings are actually greater because I'm able to process 14 - 500 ml jars in the pressure canner verses 7 in the boiling water bath canner reducing the number of loads needed saving more time, money and electricity.

Pizza Sauce
modified from:  Bernardin, Tomatoes Canning & Speciality Recipes, (2000), Pp. 61
13 c tomato purée
½ c lemon juice
½ c tomato paste
2 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp ground pepper
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp garlic powder

Put half of the tomato purée into a large sauce pan. Bring to a boil. Maintain a constant boil and the remaining purée 1 c at a time. Stir in remaining ingredients. Boil hard stirring frequently to prevent sticking. Continue boiling to desired thickness. Ladle into hot, sterilized jars. Wipe rim. Adjust two piece caps. Process using one of the two following methods;

BWB Processing: 35 minutes for 500 ml (pints), 40 minutes for 1 L (quarts) for altitudes below 1,000 feet above sea level, for higher altitudes adjust using the altitude adjustment chart.

PC Processing: 15 minutes for 250 ml, 500 ml or L jars at 10 lb pressure for altitudes below 1,000 feet above sea level, for higher altitudes adjust using the altitude adjustment chart.


4 food lovers commented:

Rachel said...

The pizza sauce sounds delicious - I love pizza but always end up putting far too much cheese on because I like it toooo much!!

DhoyM said...

you have a lot of tomatoes there. Is it just for family consumptions?

Garden Gnome said...

Rachel, extra cheese on pizza is a good thing :)

Garden Gnome said...

Dhoym, those are three of ten hampers plus that I will process this year. I am currently working on the next three baskets so by tomorrow morning will have processed 6 hampers of tomatoes into various tomato products. To answer your question, yes this is for my family's consumption. I make enough of each tomato product to get us through to the next growing season plus a little extra.