Homemade tomato sauce

At the market last week, I stopped by Greg’s booth (Rocky Canyon) to stock up on meat.  I had just returned from vacation and needed to restock my freezer.  I bought some ground beef and pork, a roast, and some soup and marrow bones.

I noticed he had a box of bruised tomatoes he was selling at a reduced price.   There were a number of women shuffling through them.  Being gone north all summer, I was not able to fully enjoy the California summer bounty, my favorite of which is heirloom tomatoes.  There is nothing like a fresh, vine-ripened summer tomato!  I think of it as one of the simple pleasures in life.

Seeing all those tomatoes excited me.  I had a chance still, to enjoy the fruits of summer.  Greg informed me that he would continue to have them until the first frost, sometime in October.  He offered to put together a box at a good price.  I asked if I could pick it up next week.  He said he could do it right now.  I accepted.

He was overly generous in filling the box, and I had some difficulty making my way back to the car, carrying a 25-lb. box and a basket overflowing with goodies. I think my joy over-powered the strain.

The next day I got to making the sauce.  Previously, when canning tomatoes, I had just blanched them to remove the skins and canned them with basil.  The end product was tasty but rather watery.  A conversation started over the boxing of tomatoes taught me a more effective method.  Simmer the tomatoes, with onions and garlic, for 8-10 hours.  That way you don’t have to remove the skin and the end product is thicker and richer.  Not nearly as much waste and a much better flavor.

I cooked them down and pureed half in a food mill.  I felt connected to my traditional Italian roots, milling tomatoes in the same manner than my great-grandmother had generations ago.

The end product was beautiful and delicious.  I was really proud of myself.  The batch had made 20 quart jars, which seemed like alot sitting there on the table.  But this week already I have gone through 5 jars.  I think I will have to stop by Greg’s soon to start another batch.

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