September 13, 2015

what to do with herbs: tomato sauce

Well, aren't I behind on blog posts! One of the things I've been doing this past month is turning most of the tomatoes I harvested into sauce.  Last year, my method was a bit more time consuming, as I was chopping them all up and cooking them on the stove for most of the afternoon.  This year, I worked out a slightly quicker method, although it's best if you start the night before.

First, prepare the tomatoes as you wish.  I just core out the green center of the big ones and cut off any bad bits, but you can also remove the skins and seeds - but I don't bother.  Put your prepared tomatoes in a blender and blend until all chopped up - mine comes out a bit like a smoothie.  I love seeing how the different tomato colors affect the color of the blend.

Next pour your mix into a crock pot until full, or you run out of tomatoes.  You can also add some small whole tomatoes now or an hour-ish before serving to add some chunkiness.  I've been allowing this to reduce overnight and then adding more blended tomatoes in the morning - but this is just because I have so many tomatoes and a fairly small crock pot.  To help with reducing the sauce, you can leave it uncovered, propped, or use a splash screen.  However, if you're not careful, you could reduce it too much and burn the sauce - yes, you can burn things in a crock pot, I was surprised too.

Whenever you have time before dinner - although give the sauce enough time to take in some of the flavors - you'll want to add some herbs!  And maybe some vegetables too, peppers and summer squash work well.  As for herbs, I love sage, thyme. basil, and a bay leaf.  You'll probably want to add salt and sugar as well.

Basil should be added last if you're using it, as overcooking can weaken the flavor.  Taste the sauce occasionally to see what you think.  I've also been cooking up onions. garlic, and sage in olive oil and then adding that to the sauce near the end.  I picked up that idea from this recipe for Chicken-Sausage and Bean Casserole with Sage.

Eventually, it'll be done and you'll be ready to have a delicious dinner!  Depending on how many tomatoes you used, you'll probably have some left over.  What I do is freeze it in half-pint jars and then use two jars whenever I want pasta again outside of tomato season.  You might also want to try freezing it in zip bags to reduce space.

What about canning, you ask?  I have yet to try it, but if you want to and don't have a pressure caner, you'll want to work with a different recipe that's more specific.  You'll probably not be able to add squash or pepper, and you will have to add lemon juice.

Have you ever made sauce of your own? How did you do it?  I'm considering trying it on an outdoor rocket stove sometime and see what taste the smoke adds to it.


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