Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

I tried my hand at canning this year. I had never done it myself, though I had watched my Mom make strawberry jam, spiced peach jam (my favorite!), and canned peach slices in the past. Our tomato plants had exploded this year (as they usually do, actually) with more tomatoes than we could use up at once, so I decided to try making homemade spaghetti sauce. I followed the instructions, including the seasoning recipe, found here, omitting the celery and salt.

The first time I tried making tomato sauce earlier in the season, we picked every tomato we could find, including the yellow variety, to try to get the 20 lbs required. I started right when R went to bed at 8 pm, and did not finish until 2 in the morning. I am not impressed with that batch. The texture was watery and stringy because the tomatoes would not boil down, and the 1/4 cup of lemon juice in addition to all of those yellow tomatoes made it taste incredibly tart. I canned it anyway and called it "Zesty Marinara."

I decided to try again. This time, I collected and froze the tomatoes as they ripened in batches. I had heard that freezing and thawing tomatoes was an easy way to remove the skin, and I thought it might cut down on the preparation time. Not at all. I started the process this morning at 9 am, and I'm writing this post as the jars are in the canning bath now at 2 pm. My back hurts from leaning over the sink trying to remove seeds for three hours, and my feet hurt from standing in front of the stove seasoning the sauce for the rest of the time. When I looked at the large pile of unusable skin, seeds, liquid, and other tomato parts, and compared it to the pile of usable tomato flesh that was HALF its size, I told myself, "Never again." This is far too much work. I would rather let tomatoes rot on the vine than try to do this again.

The plus side to today's aches and pains is that this batch can be properly labeled "Spaghetti Sauce." I didn't use a single yellow tomato, I only added two splashes of lemon juice instead of the 1/4 cup the recipe called for, and I blended the sauce to make it a better texture. Freezing and thawing the tomatoes removed far too much liquid, though, and I had to add 3 cups of water back into the sauce. I'm only getting 5 pint jars out of this batch, which is incredibly frustrating since only 4 jars fit in the canning bath at a time. I'll be waiting an extra 35 minutes just for one jar to process, grrr. But at least it tastes good.

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

My kitchen is a disaster, sigh. Next time I try canning, I think I'll stick with jams.



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