Last year my tomato plants were quite, how do I put it… crappy. It may have had something to do with the fact that Robert was gone for extended periods of time with his job and I may have forgotten to water the garden more than once (or twice). This year I was determined to put more time and effort into our plants and the end result (with the help of my mom and hubs) was a whole lot of produce, especially tomatoes. Fresh tomatoes are positively scrumptious, but even after several dinners of BLTs, salads, and pasta, we still weren’t able to keep up. Not wanting to let these beautiful fruits go to waste, I looked through some cookbooks. I found this recipe for homemade pizza sauce and I instantly knew I wanted to make it. The recipe calls for 12 pounds of tomatoes and I had more than enough to meet that requirement. The addition of fresh herbs, onions, and garlic really highlight the fresh flavors of summer. I made a massive pot and canned most of it to use for the coming months. We made a pizza for dinner on Saturday night and we both really loved the addition of the homemade sauce instead of the stuff we buy from the store. Equally exciting is the fact that store bought pizza sauce is usually around $4 a jar, so we’ll cut out a little extra fat from our grocery bills. It’s a win-win situation!
Homemade Pizza Sauce
Yield: 12 pints
- 12 pounds tomatoes, peeled*
- 2 medium onions, halved
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/4 cup fresh basil**
- 2 Tbsp fresh oregano**
- 1 Tbsp fresh marjoram**
- 2 tsp fresh thyme**
- 2 tsp fennel seeds
- 6 cloves fresh garlic
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 3 Tbsp salt
- 30 oz tomato paste
- 1/3 cup olive oil (omit if you are canning the sauce)
- 1 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded (omit if you are canning the sauce)
*See this post for a very fast and easy method for peeling tomatoes.
**If you don’t have fresh herbs, you can use half or less of dried.
Puree tomatoes, basil, herbs, and garlic in a blender or food processor (you will have to do this in small batches until tomatoes are pureed). Put puree into large soup or pasta pot. Add the rest of the ingredients (except the cheese) to the mixture. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Cook for 1.5-2 hours until very thick, stirring occasionally to keep from sticking. Add the shredded Parmesan cheese at the end of cooking. Let cool and pour into pint freezer containers or plastic freezer bags. Freeze what you aren’t going to use (just make sure you leave enough space for expansion in the containers when it freezes). Freeze for up to a year. When you are ready to use it, simply let the sauce thaw in the fridge.
If you want to can the sauce:
To can the sauce, sterilize 12- 1 pint canning jars and lids (I heat mine in a pot of boiling water for 10 minutes). Ladle the sauce into the sterilized jars, leaving 1-1.5 inches of space. To each of the jars, mix in 1 Tbsp of lemon juice (this lowers the pH of the sauce and, thus, decreases the risk of botulism growth). If this makes the sauce too tart, you can add a little sugar to offset the taste.
Clean off excess spill and cover with lid and ring. Carefully place into a boiling water bath for 35 minutes.
Remove from heat and allow the jars to cool. You should hear a sucking sound that indicates the lids have sealed. To make sure they have sealed, you shouldn’t be able to push/click the lid seals with your finger. If they don’t seal, place them back in the boiling water bath for another 10 minutes.
Label the jars with the contents and date you canned the sauce. When ready to use, add in 1 Tbsp of olive oil and 1 Tbsp of shredded parmesan cheese. Enjoy!
Source: Adapted from Simply in Season, National Center for Home Food Preservation