One of my cooking dreams came true this summer when I got to partake in making and canning tomato sauce to prepare for the winter. Canning was something that terrified me, so I did what any good, inquisitive, food lover would do and called my Italian godmother.
She ordered the tomatoes and we planned a date around when they were being delivered and after a few hours, hard work and the most picture perfect images, the tomatoes were transformed into jars of base sauce for the long winter nights to come. I say base sauce because this is how you will start your sauce when you pull out a jar in the winter. Some people make the actual sauce with salt to preserve and other seasoning and herbs, but the following is made without salt or seasoning and canned in boiling water to seal the lids and thus preserve until opening.
It went like this:
25 pounds of plum tomatoes= 10, 32 oz jars of base sauce
Boil your tomatoes in a large, I mean large, pot of water until the skins pop and split
Drain, cool and peal
Begin to place the peeled tomatoes in clean mason jars
Continue until all jars are filled, leaving about 1/4-1/8 of the jar empty for the liquid to expand
Seal all jars with the lids and rings
Wrap each jar in a cloth, this will prevent the jars from breaking in the water
Continue until all jars are sealed and wrapped
Place all jars in another large, even larger if you have it, pot of half filled water and ensure they are tight, add an extra jar if needed to make sure the sauce jars do not float, the water should just cover the jars, add extra if needed
Bring to a boil and cover, simmer for about 30-40 minutes. Turn off the heat, uncover and let the jars cool in the pot, this can take a 1-2 hours, but it is very important for the jars to cool on their own
Once cool, drain, unwrap and store in a dark, cool place and enjoy all winter long.
This was not only a practical experience and I look forward to making sauce this winter, but it was more than that for me, it was a connection to my roots, my family and an experience I will never forget. And for now I don’t have to because I have ten jars waiting for me in my pantry!
I am so lucky to have an Italian godmother to call at any time and cook with. If you don’t have one, I hope this post brings a little home cooking to your kitchen and now would be a good time to invest in a large pot or find an Italian fairy godmother near you.