Sunday, April 2, 2017

Pressure Canned Homegrown Tomato Sauce #SundaySupper

With the arrival of April comes the start of my vegetable garden plans for the year. With such a short "outdoor" growing season, seeds for things like my famous heirloom tomatoes have to begin life in my indoor greenhouse - and, fingers crossed, they will survive the move outdoors and produce bushels of deliciousness by August.

Now, the "seed" heirlooms don't always proliferate the way "conventional" tomatoes do, and I do give myself some backup protection by purchasing heirloom seedlings at my local nursery. However, then you have years like last year, which started off at a lead-shelled snail's pace before taking off full throttle at the end of the Summer. What we couldn't consume (which was a fair amount, given the buckets of tomatoes we were pulling in from both my heirloom and my mom's conventional gardens) went into freezer bags and got packed into our deep freezer for later processing. I knew I wanted to make sauce with them, I just never got around to it by the holidays.

Pressure Canned Tomato Sauce

When Christmas rolled around, I was surprised with a giant pressure canner under the tree - I couldn't wait to play! The canner opens up the world of low-acid food preservation to me, and allowed me to try preserving my classic marinara - which I hadn't attempted before with a waterbath because it doesn't call for acidifying the mixture. I know I could have just added some citric acid to the batch before, but the flavours are so perfectly suspended that any added tartness would skew the overall impression of the medley. This way, it's canned up relatively quickly and is safe without acidity - and for a first go with any sort of pressure-cooking appliance it was a relatively fool proof "baby step" into that world. At any rate, my jars will help (partially) bridge the gap until I can get the Summer sun on my shoulders and my shovel in the ground!

This #SundaySupper is celebrating tomatoes. April is National Florida Tomato Month, and the state is the second largest tomato producer in the country. Fresh tomatoes are high in vitamin C and vitamin A, are fat-free and low in sodium, while providing 10% of your daily potassium needs.When you cook down good quality fresh tomatoes like I did, you also get a huge boost of lycopene, which is made more available with heating. All this and a killer flavour? Yes please!

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Pressure Canned Homegrown Tomato Sauce
Makes ~3 cups, 12 servings
4 ½ lbs fresh tomatoes, frozen, thawed and drained
½ cup water
6 cloves garlic, halved
1 small onion, quartered
1 tsp Cabernet salt (or sea salt)
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp paprika
1 tbsp basil
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp dried parsley
½ tsp dried thyme
1 tsp raw sugar
  1. Combine tomatoes, water, garlic and onion in a large pot. Bring to a brisk simmer and cook, uncovered, 20 minutes or until everything is soft.
  2. Puree in a food processor or blender, or by using an immersion blender, then run through a food mill to remove any remaining debris and seeds.
  3. Return to pot, add remaining ingredients and simmer, uncovered, for 2 hours, until thick and dark red.
  4. Fill sterilized jars, leaving 1 inch of headspace.
  5. Process in a pressure canner 20 minutes for pints, 25 minutes for quarts.
  • **If using a weighted-gauge canner, set at 10 pounds pressure at 0-1,000 feet above sea level; set at 15 pounds pressure at higher altitudes.
  • **If using a dial-gauge canner; set at 11 pounds pressure at 0-2000 feet above sea level; 12 pounds at 2,001-4,000 feet; 13 pounds at 4,001-6,000 feet; 14 pounds at 6.001-8,000 feet; or 15 pounds above 8,000 feet.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 41.5
Total Fat: 0.6 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 209.5 mg
Total Carbs: 9.2 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.0 g
Protein: 1.6 g