Canning in a small urban kitchen: simple tomato sauce
I absolutely love when tomatoes are at their peak. Something about their freshness just screams summer… and, let’s be honest, you want it to last all year.
Those with urban gardens should take advantage of tomato growing–they grow well on balconies and in small gardens. But even if you can’t, head over to the local market and pick up some fresh tomatoes and a few other ingredients to make a delicious all-purpose tomato sauce.
The clincher? Canning it is super easy, too.
Easy Garden-Fresh Tomato Sauce
15 pounds ripe Roma plum tomatoes, cut in half
4 yellow onions, halved
3 sprigs fresh thyme
3 sprigs fresh oregano
1 small handful fresh basil, plus more for each jar (see instructions)
Sea salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons high-quality extra-virgin olive oil
Put the tomatoes in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add the onions, thyme, oregano, and basil. Season with salt and pepper. Turn to medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, then simmer, stirring often, until the tomatoes are soft, about 3 hours.
Cool for 1 hour. Discard the onions and the herb sprigs. Use a food mill to grind the tomatoes into another large pot, discarding the solids. Stir in the lemon juice and olive oil. Turn to medium heat and cook, stirring often, until hot.
If you are canning the sauce, take this time to wash 8 pint canning jars, lids, and rings in hot soapy water. Rinse well. Put the jars in a large pan and cover with boiling water. Keep them in the hot water until you are ready to use them.
When ready, remove the jars from the water and pour out any excess water. Add 1 or 2 additional basil leaves to each jar. Set aside. Fill a large pot, one that will be able to hold the jars in a single water, with warm water to a depth of 3 to 4 inches.
Use a sterilized glass measuring cup and funnel, and pour about 1 cup of the sauce in each jar, leading 1/2 inch of headspace. Use a damp paper towel to wipe the rims clean. Place the lid on each jar, then screw on the rings. Arrange the jars in the water in the pot, making sure the water is covering the jars by 2 inches. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and boil for 35 minutes.
Use tongs to remove the jars from the water. Transfer them to a tray lined with a kitchen towel. Let cool 12 hours.
Ensure the jars have sealed by checking to see if the lids are indented and not springy. If they didn’t seal, you can repeat the water bath or use the sauce right in the next couple of days.