The end of summer is here, and that means tomatoes are in season! I had seven pounds of tomatoes sitting on my counter for a little over a week and was wanting to make and preserve a huge batch of marinara sauce. I was hoping to have 20 pounds or more of tomatoes before endeavoring on such a task. Unfortunately, we have had a lot of rain the past several weeks, and all of the remaining tomatoes on the vine are still green.
This misfortune ended up working out for the better, as when I went to look at the new pressure canner I ordered, I realized I was missing a piece and was going to have to call the company to have the missing part shipped to me! So even if I had 20-30 pounds of tomatoes sitting on my counter, I couldn't pressure can marinara sauce if I wanted to!
I really couldn't keep my tomatoes much longer without them spoiling, so a few days ago I filled my house with the aroma of fresh marinara sauce from roasted tomatoes! To do this I did the following:
1) I cut 5-7lbs of tomatoes in half, after cutting off the stems and placed them into two glass pans.
2) To the tomatoes I add: a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper, garlic cloves with the skins on from a whole head of garlic, a chopped onion, and a few handfuls of fresh basil.
3) I then roasted everything uncovered for 40 minutes at 375 degrees.
4) Once roasted, I peeled off the skin from the garlic cloves and the skin from the tomatoes before pouring everything into a strainer and straining the juice.
5) From this batch I was able to get one quart of tomato juice that I will can by processing with boiling water. The juice can be used in soups or stews at a later time. Setting the juice aside, I blended everything else in the blender with another handful of fresh basil. A food processer would work just fine for this too.
6) From there, I poured the mixture into a pot and brought it to a simmer, adding about a tbs. of Italian seasoning and sweetener to taste. Most people would use sugar, but I am on a no-sugar-kick whenever possible. Instead of sugar, I used Gentle Sweet from my THM supplies. I have no measurement on the sweetener. I just sweeten to taste, as it depended on the flavor and ripeness of the tomatoes.
7) When ready to use, add meatballs or seasoned ground beef, and then pour over pasta!
This made about a quart of marina sauce, which was more than enough to use with a spaghetti dinner. This is not enough to preserve, but it is enough to go over one pound of pasta, which is two meals for my family. It's also good to note that roma tomatoes are usually recommended for marinara sauce, but I've only grown big boy tomatoes and have found these to work just fine for marinara!
Last year was my first time making homemade marinara, as I made a large batch and froze the excess in quart size freezer bags. I personally didn't care for the marinara as much after I froze it, which is why I was looking forward to canning marinara sauce this year. To make it worth my time and effort, I'd want to make a large batch and I would probably need about 25 pounds of tomatoes to preserve 4 quarts of juice and 8 pints of marinara sauce, which unfortunately, I do not have from my garden at this time.
Freeze in quart size bags
or use a pressure canner and can for 40 minutes at 10 pounds PSI
There are mixed views on whether or not it is safe to preserve marinara sauce by processing in a boiling water system. Some say that once you add seasonings and sweeteners you lower the acidity lever, and therefore a pressure canner must be used. Others say any kind of tomato is acidic enough for boiling water canning. To be safe, I planned on using the pressure canner, since I added seasonings and sweetener.
To make one quart of marinara sauce/one quart of tomato juice you will need:
5-7 pounds of tomatoes
small onion, chopped
head of garlic
couple handfuls of fresh basil
drizzle of olive oil
salt and pepper
1 tbs. Italian seasoning
sweetener to taste
Roast first six ingredients for 40 minutes at 375 degrees, and follow the above directions to create the marinara sauce.
NOTE: You can always add the juice back into the marinara and add a small can of tomato paste to thicken the sauce. This would give you more marinara if you have no use in preserving tomato juice. Although to do this, the seasonings and sweetener may need to be adjusted.
As I stated above, I made a large batch of marinara last summer, of which I used all of the juice and thickened it with tomato paste. I even made homemade meatballs and homemade garlic spread that day. I must have been feeling very Susie-homemaker at the time, as I did not put in that kind of effort this past week! Here are pictures from last year's marinara making, and what I learned from that first experience:
1) Be sure to use deep glass dishes that are sprayed with cooking spray. Last year I roasted the tomatoes on baking sheets. Bad idea. Lots of juice. Lots of mess. Enough said.
2) It's easier to cut off the stems before roasting. I even roasted the tomatoes whole last year, but found that slicing them first was a bit easier this year.
3) Don't forget to take off the tomato skins after roasting. They come right off. I forgot this step this year, and although it didn't taste bad, you could find tomato skin fibers all throughout my sauce.
4) It's my personal preference to drain the juice and not add it back to the sauce. Even with the tomato paste in last year's sauce, the end result was still runnier than I'd like. This year, I had a nice thick sauce without the juice.