Saturday, June 22, 2013

A Canning We Will Go... Part One, Pizza Sauce

That's the haul posted above - originally eight half pint jars of Pizza Sauce (we ate one before it was canned), 18 half pint jars of Watermelon Jelly - plus a not quite full jar - and reprocessed the Dandelion Jelly and came up with nine half pints, four quarter pints and a quarter pint not quite full.

The Pizza Sauce I started days ago.  A year or so back, I froze a bunch of Roma  tomatoes, and they went nowhere.  Recently, I remembered that we'd made pizza sauce from Roma tomatoes in 2000. The house we were living in had a garden space, and several plants had volunteered over - leaving us with a ton of  lovely Roma tomatoes.  They just grew; I didn't do a thing to stop them, but I did pull a few of the bigger weeds.  For all I know, those plants are still growing there for the newest owners of that house.  Anyway, it was good stuff - so I got the tomatoes out.

Around here, recipes often go out of the window.  We modify and modify until it's right for us, not what the original chef intended it to be, mainly because so many recipes are just plain bland.  For example, the pizza sauce recipe.  It was a nice start, but I changed it.  So basically, there really is no recipe for the pizza sauce!

I started with the tomatoes - and tip for the day - frozen tomatoes are so easy to remove the skins from!  Anyone who has ever made a sauce or canned fresh tomatoes knows what I'm talking about.  Even dipping the tomatoes in boiling water and then into ice water doesn't always make that skin easy to get off.  But once you thaw the frozen tomatoes, the skin pretty much just slides off.  Yes, the tomatoes are mushy, but frozen ones should only be used for sauces anyway- they just will not retain any firmness.

So once the tomatoes were skinned and squished apart (easier to squish them in your hand than cut them - but beware any small cuts you didn't know you had!)  I brought the pot in, added a small amount of sugar, some salt, pepper, basil, oregano, thyme, parsley, onions and garlic.  LOTS of garlic.  We even added more garlic later. And some more pepper.

And then cooking.  Cooking tomatoes down takes forever, and you want to do it over a medium heat so it doesn't burn.  After the first day of cooking, I put it in the fridge overnight, and then next day, ran it through a blender to chop up any of the stubborn bits and to help thoroughly mix the flavors.  This was pretty thin - almost right for a spaghetti sauce, but nowhere close to right for a pizza sauce.  So more cooking.  And then into the fridge overnight again.

Next day, back on the stove, and a few hours more cooking. And taste testing, mainly by others in the house, because I was having a bad reaction to the smoke from the fires in the state, and my nose? Plugged, messing with my tastebuds.  I finally considered it thick enough, but instead of canning it right away, we did the obvious thing to quality check - made pizza!

And consensus is - got it right.  Next step was to put it in jars.

Out of over 5 pounds of tomatoes, I ended up with seven half pints of pizza sauce. They're on the right hand side of that picture above.  Plus what was used on the pizza.  A lot of work for a small amount, but we'll appreciate it over the next year.

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