Autumn is my favourite time of year. The sights, sounds and smells of the season bring back many wonderful memories especially those of harvest time.
I have many memories of my mother hard at work preserving tomatoes, eggplant and peppers among other vegetables and fruit harvested in the fall.
During this season it wasn’t an uncommon sight to see up to fifteen bushels of perfectly ripened tomatoes lined up on the garage floor. A few bushels of deep purple eggplant and brightly coloured peppers contrasted the sea of bright red tomatoes.
Of course this sight always meant a lot of work but the fruit of our labour was captured in rows of jars and bottles that filled the shelves of our cool cellar or better known as the pantry.
The coming winter never looked so good!
Making a year supply of tomato sauce has always been a family affair and my own family has been able to continue the tradition. Even the kids have designated duties on tomato sauce day. However, as they get older, there is always some good reason why they can't be present to help.
But each year we always manage to conscript at least a few family members which always lightens the load and definitely increases the fun.
The whole process requires some organization, a full days work and a few days of putting everything back in order.
Having the right tools and the ingenuity to invent the tools you lack goes a long way and the word improvisation takes on a whole new meaning.
But somehow at the end of the day when the last jar has been filled and all those once full bushels remain empty, you realize that the day has not just been about preserving tomatoes.
Just as important if not more is the fact that a long standing tradition has been preserved yet another year!
Below, I have included the method of making fresh tomato sauce on a much smaller scale. This can be accomplished in your kitchen with a few simple tools.
What you actually end up with is a wonderful tomato puree that can be used to make tasty tomato sauces by the addition of spices, herbs and even meat or fish.
In my next post I’ll be sure to include some simple sauce recipes that we’ve enjoyed for longer than I can remember.
Fresh Tomato Sauce
In-season tomatoes (Roma or San Marzano)
Fresh parsley and basil (optional)
- Wash tomatoes, cut or squash each one with your hand shaking out any seeds.
- Place in a large pot and add parsley and basil if using.
- Cook on medium heat until softened
- Cool then drain any liquid that the tomatoes have rendered.
- In small batches process through a food mill to make a rich sauce.
- Make sure your tomatoes are at their ripest for the best results.
- If you don’t own a food mill use a blender instead.
- Cook and cool the tomatoes as above. At this point you may remove the peels, however, leaving the skins on will give the sauce a thicker consistency.
- Strain sauce through a fine mesh sieve to remove any remaining seeds and traces of peel.
Through the Mill
The food mill is a very useful kitchen tool. Besides using it to make tomato sauce, I’ve used it to make baby food from peaches, pears and apples.
I still like making the applesauce. While the mill removes the apple peels and seeds the sauce takes on an attractive pink blush.
It usually comes with three interchangeable disks that give you a choice of desired texture anything from fine, medium to coarse.
I personally haven’t tried it myself but have it on good authority that the mill doubles as a ricer for potatoes.
If you don’t happen to own either tool this information may help you decide which one is more practical to own.