Friday, September 21, 2012

Home made tomato sauce

No, not the kind of tomato sauce you put on pasta. I mean plain tomato sauce - the stuff you'd normally buy in a can.

If you've been reading this blog lately, you probably know that my husband is in the hospital, so you might be wondering why the heck I'm bothering to make tomato sauce. It's like this. I had a case of fresh tomatoes, and I didn't want to waste them. And while cooking relaxes me (and for sure I needed some relaxing) I also knew I needed to make something that didn't require a lot of thinking.

This is probably the easiest tomato sauce ever. If you have a juicer. If you don't have your own juicer, I'll bet one of your friends has one you can borrow for a day. Ask around. It makes the job so much easier.

This recipe also features a really spiffy new pan that I got from Anolon. They graciously sponsored Virtual Potluck, and I received a 5.5 quart saucier that was perfect for making sauce.

Back when I left my mother's nest and began feathering my own hovel, my cookware was adequate, but not good. Certainly not great. When I bought my very first quality piece of cookware, I was astounded how much of a difference it made. I stopped burning food on the bottom of the pots.

When I bought my first saucier - a much smaller one that the new Anolon one - I kind of fell in love with it. As you might have guessed from the name, a saucier is great for sauces. With a thick bottom, curved sides, and a wide opening, it lets you reduce sauces quickly (because of the better evaporation) and the curved sides means you won't have anything sticking in the corners of the pots where it could scorch. And of course the heavy bottom promotes even heating.

But it's not just about making sauces. You know what else that shape is good for? Making candy, caramel, and custard. And reducing stock. And making gravy (which I guess is sort of a sauce, right?) And plenty of other things.

The Anolon saucier has a nonstick interior that's metal-utensil safe, which is pretty amazing. I don't use a lot of metal utensils on the stove - I like my wooden spoons a lot - but it's good to know that I can use a metal whisk if I need to. And the size of this pot means I can make pretty big batches of candy without worrying about the stuff boiling over. Big bonus there.

It was absolutely perfect for my tomato-sauce-making venture. It's really not much of a recipe, though. It's more of a method. This sauce is meant for freezing. If you want a canned sauce, I suggest that you follow the directions in a canning book so you have exactly the right acid/salt amount for safe canning.

Home Made Tomato Sauce

Salt (to taste)

Wash the tomatoes and remove any bad spots. Cut them to fit the feed chute of your juicer.

Juice the tomatoes. If you have options on your juicer (I have the Omega 330 which includes coarser and finer baskets) use a setting/basket that will allow more pulp to pass through.

If the resulting pulp is moist, run it through the juicer again.

Transfer the juice to a large, heavy-bottomed pot (the saucier was perfect). Bring to a boil, then lower to a brisk simmer. Cook, stirring as needed, until the sauce is reduced to about half its original volume* and it is the consistency of commercial tomato sauce. As the sauce thickens, you'll need to stir a little more often, and if you've got a lightweight pot, you'll need to stir more often.

If the sauce seems a little "chunky" and not as smooth as you like, blend it with a stick blender to smooth it out. Or, if you don't have a stick blender, a regular blender will do the trick, but blend in small batches so the hot sauce doesn't explode out of the blender.

Taste the sauce and add salt, if desired, to taste. Stir until you know it's dissolved. Keep in mind that you're using this for cooking and will no doubt be adding salt to your recipes. This time, I didn't add any salt at all.

Transfer the sauce to storage vessels. I used 1-pint plastic containers. Let them cool, then refrigerate. Then freeze. I pop the frozen sauce out of the containers and then vacuum seal them in bags for longer storage, but you can leave them in your containers, if you prefer.

*You can continue reducing the sauce until it is much thicker - until you have tomato paste, if you like. The thicker it gets, the more you'll want to stir to ensure that it won't scorch on the bottom of the pot.

Besides the sweet saucier, I also received this casserole with a steamer insert.

To see what the other Virtual Potluck team has made, there is a round-up post on Miss in the Kitchen where you will find links to everyone's recipes.

Want to know more about Anolon? They're on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I received the mentioned cookware at no cost for the purpose of writing this post.