I’ve been canning tomatoes for the past couple of weekends, because it’s that time of summer (well, at least here in Austin it is). I didn’t do any canning last summer, due to having a new baby and life feeling a bit too harried for that kind of thing, but I regretted it all winter. I did manage to freeze a couple of bags of tomato sauce, which were pleasant surprises when I uncovered them in the deep freeze. This summer, though, canning is back in full force!
I like to can tomatoes in pint jars, since they’re the size recipes tend to call for. Weekend before last, I did a batch of plain tomato sauce, which can be dressed up any which way and used in all kinds of dishes.
This past weekend, though, I decided to go with a new recipe utilizing another classic summer flavor: basil.
Johnson’s Backyard Garden was kind enough to give me a free bunch of basil when I picked up my bulk tomatoes at the farmer’s market on Saturday. We already have three flourishing basil plants in our garden, so, I thought, why not just throw the whole thing in the sauce? And that, along with some extra herbs and seasonings, is exactly what I did.
My 10 lbs of tomatoes made 4 pint jars of sauce, along with almost a pint left over that I’ll use this week for… something. I’m not sure what yet, but the wheels are turning. Our week is already a little pasta-heavy, so I’m leaning away from the traditional options. Any suggestions?
Based on a recipe from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving
10 lbs tomatoes
2 Tbs olive oil
2 white onions, chopped finely
4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 bunch basil, leaves picked and chopped into thin ribbons
Prepare your canner, jars, and lids. Core and quarter 5 tomatoes. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large stock pot. Add the quartered tomatoes, crushing with the back of a spoon or a potato masher to release juices. Continue coring and quartering tomatoes and adding them to the pot, making sure the mixture continues to boil rapidly, until all of the tomatoes are in the pot. Stir well and simmer for an additional 10 minutes.
Remove the tomatoes from the heat and cool slightly. Process through a food mill in batches to remove skins, and return to the pot. Add the onion, garlic, salt, oregano, and basil, bring to a boil, and simmer until the sauce is reduced by half.**
Meanwhile, prepare your canner, jars, and lids. Add 1 Tbs lemon juice to each of 4 jars. Ladle the sauce into warm jars using a funnel, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Wipe the rim and secure the lid, turning to fingertip tight. Process the jars for 35 minutes in a boiling water canner.
* Ideally, you’d use San Marzano or another Roma variety, which are ideal for sauces.
** For plain tomato sauce, simply omit the onion, garlic, and herbs here and continue with the recipe.