Tuesday, September 7, 2010


You know the old saying, "When life gives you tomatoes, make tomato sauce."

Well, maybe not quite.

But that is what I've been doing with the pounds and pounds of tomatoes from the farm. There are slicing tomatoes--eight pounds today, and heirloom tomatoes--another eight pounds, and plum tomatoes, and grape tomatoes, and itty bitty yellow tomatoes the size of currants. They are all so good. And even though they are overflowing my counters--thank goodness they don't need refrigeration--I am not one to turn tomatoes away. Most of the large tomatoes have been sliced and used on burgers and sandwiches. The heirloom tomatoes have been chopped and made into salads; the itty bitty tomatoes have been consumed by my son who was tickled pink that they were so tiny and delicious.

But that still leaves, oh, about 30 more pounds of tomatoes. And they just keep coming. So. There is only one thing to do with so much goodness: make tomato sauce. I've never made tomato sauce before because frankly, jarred tomato sauce is cheap and requires so little work. And even if you don't like prepared tomato sauce, regular canned tomatoes cooked with some herbs and spices are cheaper than buying fresh tomatoes by the pound and making your own. If I weren't receiving pounds and pounds of tomatoes from my CSA, I wouldn't spend $20 on tomatoes just to make one quart of sauce.

But here I am, making sauce. Last week, before I went on vacation, I had about six pounds of grape tomatoes. Now, grape tomatoes aren't normally used for making sauce since you usually blanch the tomatoes and then peel the skin. Can you imagine peeling 300 grape tomatoes? I think not. There is a different way and I found it in a book called, Can I Freeze It?. It's so easy and comes out really well.

Tomato Sauce
(adapted from Can I Freeze It? by Susie Theodorou)

6-8 pounds of tomatoes (cherry or grape)
6 Tbsp. water

1. Put the cherry or grape tomatoes in a big pot. Add 6 tablespoons of water. Take a piece of parchment paper, crumple it and wet it. Smooth is out a bit and place directly on top of the tomatoes so that it's touching them. Cover. Set the heat to low and let them simmer for 30-60 minutes. They're done when a bunch of them have split. Drain and let cool a bit.

2. Puree in a blender or food processor.

3. Take a fine-meshed sieve and set it over a bowl. Working in small batches, pour the puree into the sieve and use a large spoon to force the puree through the sieve. I started doing this with a spoon but then switched to a ladle and the work went much faster. A regular spoon is fairly useless so get something really big. After pressing a bit, scrape the tomato sauce from underneath the sieve periodically to get as much as possible. After there's no more left to press, what you will have left in the sieve are the skins and seeds. You can dump those out.

4. Use immediately or freeze for later use. You can freeze in two-cup batches in quart-sized freezer bags or in larger batches in gallon bags. If you use it immediately, put the sauce in a pot and simmer with herbs and spices of your choice.

Since all I've done is freeze my sauce, I haven't yet tried making a pasta sauce out of it. I'm sure I will soon though!

1 comment:

  1. Hey! Also a member of the CSA and just made tomato sauce today from the pick-your-own "sauce tomatoes." I didn't know how to make fresh tomato sauce (even more embarrassing once I admit that I am an Italian-American) so I used to recipe on the Martha Stewart website. Yum!
    Great blog -- I check it from time to time to get some ideas.