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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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Sunday, October 07, 2012

Italian Garden Sauce

Several years ago I started experimenting with home canned tomato based sauces spurred on by an increasing number of gourmet style pasta sauces available in the grocery store.  I reasoned that many folks enhance store bought pasta sauce so why not do it with the basic tomato based sauce.  When it comes to home canning it is important to know what can be altered without affecting the safety of the finished product. Basically as long as the sauce is acidified and pressure canned there is a lot of leeway with respect to possible alterations.  There is less leeway if the sauce is to be processed in a boiling water bath (BWB) canner so you can't add too much low acid vegetables (eg. celery, onions, mushrooms) to the sauce as that will affect the pH.  If you want to process using a BWB canner it is essential to properly test the pH of the product.  If higher than pH 4.6 the product must be processed in a pressure canner.

Italian garden sauce
Essentially herbs, salt, cooking method and flavour combinations have no bearing on home canned food safety.  My first huge success was roasting the tomatoes for my sauces on the outdoor grill.  That quickly turned to fire roasting over charcoal which lead to adding wood for a smokiness.  This year I began experimenting with making sauces from a purée.  A tomato purée is thicker than a plain tomato sauce but thinner than a tomato paste, making it the perfect base for many tomato products (eg. ketchup, sauces).

The pasta sauce I made this year using a tomato  purée was and Italian Garden Sauce.  This is a rich, full bodied sauce that got its name from the origin of the base ingredients in it, my garden.  The sauce contained four varieties of tomatoes, two varieties of sweet peppers, onions and fresh herbs from my garden in addition to celery and seasonings. It is a smooth sauce with touch of texture perfect as a sauce for pasta or other dishes.  I acidified using citric acid.  The first batch was a wonderful success so I did go on to make a second batch with a couple of modifications of course (more on that later).  The sauce was pressure canned in Canadian Mason jars, made in Canada.  The jars are about 30 years old.  Doesn't that sauce look yummy?

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