25 September 2013

Pizza/Pasta Sauce

I've gotta have a record of how I made sauce this year; otherwise, come next September I'm bound to go searching through my recipe binder NOT being able to find the chicken scratch I wrote down and NOT remembering what I want to do differently or the same.

Whether or not it was written down, I'm not sure I'll be able to replicate the eagerness of my little helper.  Why is it that once kids master the skills for washing dishes/helping can/pulling weeds/______________(fill in this blank with any other mundane household chore you are looking forward to your kids doing) they no longer have the desire to help do these things? 

So, we made sauce (Atticus keeps calling it "salsa") this year.  Early September.  I had mostly paste tomatoes to work with which was great!  And here's what we did:

20 lb. paste tomatoes, washed and quartered
2 medium onions, quartered
6 cloves garlic, smashed
4 green peppers, seeded and cut in large chunks

Simmer tomatoes, onions, garlic, and peppers together in large saucepans until vegetables are soft (about 1/2 hour).  I also broiled the onions and garlic in a little oil first, but don't know as I'd got to the trouble again.  Strain this mixture and run though food mill.  By first straining it, I removed 3 quarts of juice and made my base thicker.  

My eager helper loved to watch the curls of tomato, onion, and pepper peels come out the end of the food mill.  He noted that it looked like "poop!".  Yep, it really does.

Once the tomato mixture is all through the food mill (and, like the thrifty person you are, you've also run the "poops" through another time or two to get it ALL out), add the following:

1/2 cup sugar
3 TBSP salt
3 TBSP Italian seasoning
2 bay leaves

Simmer this on the stove until it thickens.  I simmered it about 90 minutes before removing the bay leaves and deciding to add:

1/4 cup cornstarch dissolved in 1/4 cup water
Stir sauce while adding cornstarch to avoid lumps (I picked some out while ladling the sauce into jars).  

At this point I really loved the flavor of the sauce and thought it had a good consistency.  Then I had to go ahead and add some sauteed peppers, onions, and garlic to make it chunky.  Not sure I would do this again, but I haven't used it yet on pizza, so I'll give myself some time (maybe about a year?) to think about that.
I used:

2 onions, diced
6-7 peppers, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
little bit of olive oil

Then I stirred in:

______ cup chopped fresh basil

Yes, that is what I wrote down.  Maybe about a cup?  I simmered the sauce another 10-15 minutes before ladling it into clean pint jars and processing it in a boiling water bath.  I added 1/4 tsp of lemon juice into each jar too since I was paranoid about it not being acidic enough with the addition of all those extra veggies.  This yielded exactly 9 pints which should make 18 pizzas!

Any advice, tips, or killer recipes to share?  I'm still a novice at this and by no means have I settled on this as my recipe yet.

Happy canning!

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