When Life Gives You Tomatoes …

Story and Photography by Kathleen Hennessy

If your end-of-the-season tomato harvest is filling up your counters, it’s time to make sauce. Even if you’re a novice canner, this recipe is very easy and flexible. Best of all, it tastes amazing. You may never go back to store-bought tomato sauce.

16 pounds tomatoes – we used just over a peck of Roma tomatoes
2 large onions, chopped 
2 large peppers, chopped
¼ cup minced garlic 
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
½ cup fresh basil leaves, chopped very fine (you can also use ¼ cup dried basil)
¼ cup dried oregano
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons sea salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
8-24 ounces tomato paste – The amount of tomato paste really depends on how thick you want the sauce. I typically use two 4.5-ounce tubes of high quality tomato paste. You can use two 12-ounce cans as well.

Directions with photos:

Fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil. Cut a shallow “x” on the bottom of each tomato and place in boiling water. Do this in batches, making sure you don’t overfill the pot. Cook the tomatoes for about a minute or until the skins split.
Remove the tomatoes from the water and allow to cool a minute. Then peel off the skin. Blanching the tomatoes makes the process easier. Place the whole peeled tomatoes in a large stockpot. You can remove the seeds if you want to; I just find it easier to leave them in the sauce.
Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to the bottom of a sauté pan. Add the chopped onion, garlic, peppers, and any other chopped veggies you want to add to your sauce and sauté until the onions are translucent.
Add the veggies to the tomatoes. Mix in the remaining oil, basil, oregano, sugar, salt, and pepper and half of the tomato paste. Use an immersion blender to mix all the ingredients together and to make the sauce smooth. Simmer the sauce for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally. The longer you simmer the sauce, the thicker it will be. Add additional tomato paste to help the thickening process.
Add the sauce to clean jars and process in a steam canner, following the directions for the jar size you are using. I process mine in a very large pot of boiling water, 35 minutes for pints and 40 minutes for quarts.
The sauce is ready to serve and share. Enjoy!
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