Every year I plant about 30 tomato plants and no matter what I do they are all ready for picking at the same time. I have tried delayed planting of half of the plants, but it seems Mother Nature always intervenes. Then I have the mother-in-law intervention as well. She is a great mother-in-law, not like some of my friend’s horror stories. But when I have tomatoes, so does she, and when she says she will send a few home, I know that it means at least 5 milk crates.
Too many tomatoes! Photo By Char Scace.
When the tomatoes started to arrive this year, I checked out what we had in our pantry to see what I needed to make first. I knew I had to make spaghetti sauce and a lot of it. The problem with making spaghetti sauce is the amount of prep time involved. First you have to blanch and peel the tomatoes, then cook them, then run them through a sieve. I found this prep usually took me a whole day and then I would have to can it the next day and only get a minimal amount of sauce.
So as I stood in my kitchen, slightly overwhelmed with the amount of tomatoes I needed to can, I started thinking about some possible shortcuts. First off, I decided to just coarsely chop the tomatoes. I then filled a 12 quart stock pot with the coarsely chopped tomatoes and turned it on low. I added about 1 cup of chopped onion, 1/8 cup minced garlic, 1/8 cup oregano and 1/8 cup of sweet basil. I let this cook for probably about 30-45 minutes, until it sunk about 1/3 of the way down, and I stirred often, making sure to lift the chopped tomatoes from the bottom of the pan all the way to the top to distribute the heat. I then added 1 package of Mrs. Wages Create Pasta Sauce and brought the sauce to a boil. I then shut off the heat and started filling my prepared quart jars. I processed them in a hot water bath for 40 minutes after boiling resumed. It made about 7 quarts and 1 pint.
I always follow the directions on the back of the Mrs. Wages Create Pasta Sauce package but always omit the sugar, as I prefer as low-carb as possible (my kids get noodles, I get spaghetti squash). My children always love my sauce; I always felt it was too salty. Now that I am using one package to season 7+ quarts versus 1 package for 5 pints, the salt level is much better in my opinion. With these shortcuts, I now have more time to annoy my teenage daughters. They are so lucky.
Char Scace is a married, busy mother of four with 20 years of professional chef experience.
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