Monday, August 10, 2009

Homemade Tomato Sauce

You don't ever want to find out that you're old enough to remember buying something that is now considered vintage. "Vintage" and "antique" are supposed to be words used to describe my mother's kitchen tools, not mine! So when I researched this blog post to see where I might be able to link you, my friends, to purchase this tool that is necessary for this recipe, imagine my surprise when I came up with a gazillion links pointing me toward Ebay. Evidently these have become collector's items. Who knew. I immediately joined AARP and died my hair blue.

As it turns out, this gadget is called a chinoise, and more modern renditions of it are still easily obtained. I also discovered that the cadillac of culinary crushers is available in the form of a Spremy electric tomato strainer, and if I had a couple hundred bucks to blow, I'd have me one, you can bet your Better Boy on that.

Regardless, if you're processing tomatoes you're going to need something to help you separate the seeds and skins from the pulp and juice. Food mills work great for this too. So beg, borrow or steal one and let's make tomato sauce from scratch!

Homemade Tomato Sauce

5 pounds ripe tomatoes, washed and cored
Olive oil
salt and pepper
3-4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 onion, quartered
1 bell pepper, halved, seeded

1-2 tsp sugar, depending on if you like your sauces sweeter or notter.
Italian seasoning (a couple of tablespoons)
Dried basil (a teaspoon or so)
1 tsp salt
pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line two baking sheets with aluminum foil. Cut tomatoes in half or quarters, depending on size. Quarter onion. Cut pepper in half and remove seeds. Take garlic cloves and wrap in a small piece of aluminum foil. Place tomato pieces, onion quarters and pepper halves in a large bowl. Coat lightly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Distribute among the baking sheets in a single layer. Add the garlic bundle to one pan. Roast in oven for 25-30 minutes, rotating pans about half way through. The tomatoes will start to break down.

Remove pans from oven. Remove garlic cloves from foil. Take peppers, onions and garlic cloves and place them into food processor or blender. Puree to a creamy consistency. Using slotted spoon, and leaving the watery residue behind, transfer tomato pieces to strainer or food mill and force juice and pulp through. The strainer will separate the pulp and juice from the skins and seeds and you'll find them left behind like this:

Scrape any pulp off the side of the strainer and add to your puree.

Combine tomato puree with the food processor contents. Add Italian seasoning, basil, sugar, salt and pepper.

Now here's where we're going to change it up a bit. I'm used to making sauce on the stove, stirring often, and basically becoming a slave to my sauce pot until the sauce has thickened to my desired consistency. Today I decided to throw the whole thing back into the oven and let it be the slave!

Spray a large jelly roll pan with cooking spray and place the pan into a preheated 300 degree oven. Pour tomato puree into pan. Learn from my mistake here, because if you do this step in reverse, you're going to have a very, very full jelly roll pan that you're trying to place into the oven and it will get quite messy as you transfer it.

Set timer for one hour. Go watch Army Wives or read your Dean Koontz novel. Or get on the treadmill if you're one of THOSE types. When the timer dings, stir the mixture and reset the timer for one hour. We're going to keep doing this until the mixture is the desired consistency, and this all depends on how juicy your tomatoes were to begin with, as well as how thick you want your finished sauce. For me that was three hours. I wanted a very thick sauce to use as a pizza sauce. Here's the consistency I opted for.

Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

I started out with about 10 cups of puree and it reduced down to about 3 cups of pizza sauce. I then portioned the sauce into 1 cup measures and froze it in freezer bags for future use.


Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction said...

Wow - looks tasty! I remember watching my mom make homemade sauce. Unfortunately, my garden hasn't yet produced enough tomatoes to make homemade sauce. I'm still optimistic, though!

Moogie said...

So making tomato sauce is what I should be doing with all the tomatoes from my garden. Evidently I've been clueless. Instead, I've been throwing them at all the old folk walking along the sidewalk in front of my house. They can't move very fast, so they make good targets.

stephchows said...

ooooo blue hair! I think it will look marrrvalous on you!!!

June said...

Nothing better than homemade tomato sauce. You've shared a brilliant idea - reduce it in the oven. Now why didn't I think of that? Obviously my shoe size is higher than my IQ! Thanks Mags.

Mags said...

Jen: Hang in there and remember this recipe when you're knee deep in tomatoes!

Moogie: LOLOL... I just love you. I do

Steph: Thank you! I think blue hair and a rocking chair will suit me nicely!

June: I'm just a blue hair shy of genius, definitely. LOL... thanks for commenting!

Dianna said...

I just found one of these chinois contraptions at Goodwill for about 5 bucks! I cleaned it up and was just looking for a reason to use it!! Thanks for the recipe. I can't wait to try it. I just want to can sauce (no pizza sauce for this girl)...would you use the same spices? I can every year for salsas and spaghetti sauces.