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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 26, 2008

Putting Up Tomatoes - Days Two & Three

A reader commented on the previous post that I had a lot of tomatoes and wanted to know if they were all for our family's use. The answer is yes, all of the tomato products I put up are for our family's use. A few jars find their way to friends but that is factored in to what is needed to get up to the next tomato season. So I'm putting up at least a year's worth plus a bit extra of tomato products. Less jars are actually processed some days during my busy tomato canning season. The reason for this is as the product increases in complexity it takes longer to get the product ready which affects the number of loads that can be processed in the day. I also start getting tired and quite achy by about day 3 which slows me down a bit.

Pasta Sauce

Pictured is the yield from one hamper of tomatoes, a meatless pasta sauce. A hamper looks like a lot of tomatoes but once purée the average yield will be 16 - 500 ml jars. My canner holds 14 - 500 ml jars so I put the rest in a refrigerator container. The sauce was pressure canned. sauce is made essentially the same way I make my meat sauce with two variations. The tomatoes are run through a food mill first. Then vegetables are puréed are added to the tomato purée. No meat is added. The seasonings are added then the sauce is then allowed to cook slowly on low heat. Seasonings are adjusted during the cooking period. From purée to final sauce ready for canning the cooking time is about 4½ hours. That means I'm waiting on the sauce to finish cooking. Why? I'm using extra large stock pots and the canner meaning I have to use the reinforced heavy pot burner on the cartridge. I only have one of these special burners so can only run one huge pot at a time.

Three More Hampers

My husband picked up three more hampers of tomatoes Tuesday afternoon. I almost forgot to take a picture so half a hamper is missing as the tomatoes were already in the sink being cleaned. These are are different variety from the first three hampers I processed. This is quite normal as I get the tomatoes as the fields are being harvested so it depends on where they are harvesting that day. I'll post a picture or two of the harvest shortly. I keep track of the varieties because some plum varieties are better for certain products than others. The first three hampers are my preferred tomatoes. This variety is smaller and firmer than the first variety. Over the course of my tomato canning season I will go through at least 4 plum varieties but of those I use the first variety the most.

On the Grill

Roasted tomato sauce means long, slow roasting on the grill. They are roasted from start to finish without a lid. As the tomatoes reduce more are added. It takes quite a bit of time but the results are worth it! It is one of our family favourites.

If you have been following this blog you will know that I always maximize grilling capacity and even when we are busy I like to make a nice meal for dinner. The grill was going for the sauce so it was perfect timing to wrap a pork shoulder roast in foil for slow cooking. Part of the foil packet is just barely visible to the left of the tomatoes. The roast was cooked from frozen taking about 3 hours. Later I added a foil packet of sliced potatoes and there was our dinner.


Dinner consisted of pork shoulder roast, sliced potatoes and the last of the niblet corn from 2007 all cooked on the grill. I just finished putting up the 2008 corn crop so that was cutting fairly close. Pork done in foil on the grill is so moist and tender that you really don't even need a knife to cut it! The important thing is to be sure the foil packet is tightly sealed so as to keep all the juices inside preventing the pork from drying out. Wrap the foil packet inside at least two more foil packets tightly sealed. Be careful when opening as there will be a lot of steam escaping. Use a sauce of your choice, garlic pepper and chopped onion to add more flavour. The potatoes were simply sliced thin, placed on a sheet of tin foil then drizzled with olive oil and seasoned with sea salt and garlic pepper. The foil was formed into a packet and tightly sealed. Cook time for the potatoes was about 30 minutes.

Roasted Tomato Sauce

After dinner puréed the roasted tomato sauce then canned with a yield of 10 - 500 ml jars. I pressure canned the sauce even though it was pH 4.0 so it could have been processed using a boiling water bath canner. By processing using the pressure canner I was able to process all 10 jars in one load rather than two loads and processing time is less when using a pressure canner.

Roasted tomato sauce gets its unique flavour by slow roasting on the grill on low heat. The top tomatoes will caramelize a bit. These are stirred in when adding more tomatoes. The tomatoes, vegetable mixture (onions, celery, green pepper) and fresh herbs are added in stages as the original mixture boils down. The end result is a rich, full bodied, thick tomato sauce for pasta or other dishes.

4 food lovers commented:

tahtimbo said...

I love the roasted tomato sauce recipe. I have a huge amount of tomatoes that need to be dealt with. I have already made 2 batches of salsa and my wife wants me to make a tomato soup that she can later freeze. Do you have any recipes, that include garlic (we love garlic), that I could use? If you do, could you drop my site and let me know? Thank you,

Rachel said...

The roasted tomaoes look delicious - I have never done this before as it takes a lot of tomatoes and I always assume shop bought sauces are cheaper than me making them myself from bought tomatoes.

Garden Gnome said...

Thanks Tahtimbo :) If you check through the archives for this blog you will find I use garlic on a fairly regular basis. A lot of my sauces have garlic as an ingredient. I highly recommend the roasted garlic in the archives. Seriously you can never have enough roasted garlic!

Garden Gnome said...

Rachel, there are very few things I make at home that are not cheaper than store bought. When it comes to tomatoes I grow a lot plus I have access to all the free tomatoes I want. So my cost for tomatoes is nil however other ingredients that I don't grow cost as does the lids and electricity. Roasted tomato sauce ends up costing me about 99¢ per load (14 - 500 ml jars) or a cost per 500 ml jar of 7¢. This included the price of the lid and electricity. I don't know of anywhere that you could buy sauce that cheap. Even if I had to pay the going price of $5 per hamper the cost would be 43¢ per jar (500 ml/16 ounces) still cheaper than any sauce in the grocery store and oh so much tastier! In general any tomato based sauce can be made for a fraction of the cost of store bought.