November 4, 2012

Marinara Sauce

Marinara sauce? It's November - how come I'm talking about making marinara sauce?  The reason is because I can't get tomatoes to ripen here.  The combination of shade on our property and elevation (cool nights) mean the tomatoes want to stay green.  My trick for getting them to ripen is either to pull the whole plant and hang up-side-down in the barn or cover the whole plant in black plastic.  Using either method the result is the tomatoes slowly turn red and the second they start to turn they have to be picked else black spots form.

It can take a few weeks to get all the tomatoes to turn red and for there to be enough to warrant a day of making sauce.  So as each tomato turns red, I put it in the freezer.  The whole thing. By the time there were enough for sauce no one was allowed to open the freezer for fear of tomato avalanche.

Friday night I pulled them all out and place them in a large pot to thaw over night (picture).  The next morning the pot went on the stove over medium heat and the stirring began.

Conventional marinara sauce making says to boil the tomatoes until the skins split.  Then discard the skins and seeds.  Well, that is way too much work for me.  Instead I bring them to hot so that the skins and flesh get soft.  Then I put everything through the blender - skins, seeds and all.  Last I return the sauce to the pot, add other veggies and spices, and cook it down.  Here is my recipe:

Marinara Sauce
12 lbs roma tomatoes
2 large onions, diced
2 large green peppers, diced
4 garlic cloves, diced
1 Tbls plus 2 tsp Italian spice mix*
3 tsp salt
3 tsp sugar
2 c good red wine
1/2 c good vegetable oil

1.  Put tomatoes in large pot (not aluminum)  and cook over medium-high heat until skins split and flesh is soft.
2.  Working in batches, put in blender and puree.  Transfer to another large pot.  Continue until all the sauce is blended.  Pour all into one of the two large pots.
3.  Place over medium-high heat.  Add onions, green pepper, garlic and stir.  Stir in remaining ingredients.
4.  Bring to simmer stirring constantly to prevent burning on the bottom. Take 30-45 minutes.
5.  Once the sauce is simmering, turn down the heat to medium-low or low.  Keep it simmering, but now only stir every half hour or so.  Keep simmering until it reaches your desired consistency.  It can take 3-4 hours to reduce.
6.  Pour into quart jars.  Put on lids and process in a pressure cooker at 5 lbs for 10 minutes.**

Notes:
*I purchase bulk Italian spice mix that has rosemary, basil, oregano and parsley.  If you don't have Italian spice mix you can use 2 teaspoons of each spice listed above.
**You do have to pressure cook marinara sauce if you plan on keeping it for a while.  Alternatively you could add 1 cup of vinegar right at the end and then process in a water bath for 10 minutes.  Vinegar will prevent bad bacteria from forming in the sauce.  I prefer to pressure cook because then I feel confident the sauce will stay good for months and months.  Plus I don't like vinegar in my sauce.

1 comment:

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