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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Canning Spaghetti Sauce (part 2)

If you are not planning on canning this, but are instead freezing it, just follow all of the instructions except after the sauce is done, let it cool completely then put into quart size freezer bags and lay flat in your freezer (remember to leave some space for it to expand).

(remember, these are not exact. cooking is not a science, it's a passion)

20 lbs of tomatoes
1 c olive oil
2-3 onions, minced (you may like more, I just hate onion)
8 cloves of garlic, minced
1-2 green bell peppers, chopped
1/4 C dried basil (or if you use fresh, which I love, you'll need twice as much)
1/4 C dried oregano
1/4 C dried parsley (1/2 C for fresh)
1/2 C white sugar (I would start with less and add if you think you need it)
1/4 salt
2 tsp ground black pepper
3-4 sm cans tomato paste

1. Prepping the tomatoes will be the most time-consuming and labor-intensive part of the whole thing. (Surpassed only by planting the actual garden). You will need to blanch, peel, seed and chop all of the tomatoes. (Make sure you have TONS of large bowls and lots of ice for the blanching). Now set them aside for a few minutes...
2. Heat the oil in a LARGE pot. Add the onion, garlic and pepper and saute until the onion is translucent.
3. If you like a chunky sauce, add the chopped tomatoes now. However, if you are like me and the texture of tomato skeeves you out, this is where you would need to process all of the chopped tomatoes. This will take awhile and it will be messy. Be very sure to hold the blade onto your food processor very tightly when removing it from the base to dump in the pot. Otherwise, it will be EVERYWHERE and you will swear like you've never sworn before. I promise.
4. Once all of your tomato is added, add the remaining ingredients. Your sauce will be pink to start out with. It needs to simmer for a few hours, but you'll need to stir it very frequently. (plus it's really nice to open the pot and smell it)
5. When your sauce is done (leave it on the burner at all times. it needs to stay simmering for canning) start to heat up the water in your canner (remember you'll need the jars to be covered with at least 1 inch of water). Then, sterilize your jars in the oven or with hot water and heat up your lids and rings in a small pot on the stove.
6. Once the water in your canner is boiling and everything is sterilized, you can fill up the jars leaving an inch of head space. Obviously, a canning funnel/jar filler is absolutely necessary with spaghetti sauce, otherwise you'd have one hell of a mess. Be sure to clean off the top of the jar with a wet rag after it's filled. Place the lid and ring on tightly. Once they are all done, put them in the canner (add more water if you need to. if I need more, I use the water from the lid and ring pot b/c it's already heated up). A tip here is that if you don't want your canner to get all discolored on the inside, add some vinegar to the water before you add the jars. They will need processed for 25 minutes in a pressure canner or 40 in a water bath canner (I would recommend just using the pressure canner. better safe than sorry). Once they are done and the pressure is out of the canner, you can remove them with the jar lifter. Now you just have to listen to make sure they all "pop". If one doesn't seal, however, you can stick it in the fridge and use it within 24-48 hrs. But don't get too anxious, it could take an hour or two for them all to seal.
Like I said yesterday, you will need to check out the instructions on your pressure canner to make sure you are doing it right and to see how many psi you need (I believe it's 1000, but I can't remember for sure).

Making homemade spaghetti sauce is clearly not easy, but once you taste it, you can never go back to store-bought sauce, there is just no comparison. Not to mention the sense of accomplishment you feel from growing your own vegetables (and I do basil too) and creating something delicious with it to enjoy all year long.

Makes about 7 quarts

Once I make my first batch (probably in the next couple days) I'll add some pictures for you.