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Milk Free Recipes - Tomato Sauce & Canning - Part 1

We have a garden this year, and being new to gardening, didn't really know how to plan or plant or much of anything. (Ok, maybe my husband did, but I sure didn't) and we were gifted 5 baby tomato plants. We planted them, not thinking much of it, and they seemed to grow into tomato trees!! We hate tomatoes. A lot. 

I decided to make and can (jar) up some sauce. Here's how to do it... it was my first time, so it was quite an adventure for me. 

First you will need equipment. Bowls, colanders, large pots (think HUGE 20 quart pot and 6 quart pot), mason jars, thongs, jar lifters, lids (new lids each time, reusing rings and jars is ok), knife, water. 

My Tomatoes

First things first, you will need about 20 or more pounds of tomatoes (I use a selection of Roma, Big Boy, and Mortgage Lifter) to make jarring your sauce worth while. Really. I thought 20 lbs would produce at least 16 jars of sauce... but nope... more on that in Part 2.

Boil a large pot of water and prepare 2 large bowls of ICE COLD water (use ice if you need to). 
Pull off all stems, and cut a small X in the bottom of all your tomatoes. 
Place a few tomatoes into the boiling water for about 30 seconds or until the peels start to curl at the X. 
Quickly remove each tomato and plunge into your cold water. You need to stop the cooking process.
Repeat for all tomatoes. 
After all tomatoes are boiled and cooled, pull the skins off. 
 Taking the plunge!

 Above: Boiling and Below: Cooling off


 Oh look more peeled!

 This is where it really gets slimy. Slice the tomatoes in half across their sides, not up and down. 
Squeeze each tomato half over a bowl. You want all the seeds, juice, and slimy bits to come out. Use your fingers to dig them out. You want the meat of the fruit, not the liquid.
Cut out the stem area, and any icky spots and toss the good parts into another bowl.
You can even toss them into a strainer inside a bowl to get more liquid out. I ended up swapping for a strainer.

I then take the meats and run them through the blender to liquify. I'm a big baby an hate chunks of tomato in my sauce. If you don't mind the chunks, you can just hand smash them right into a pot.

 Sliced Juicy Mortgage Lifters

 Left side: Goo bowl Right side: Meat bowl

After the seeds are squished out.

I had over SIX QUARTS of liquid and unusable parts (left side) and about 6 quarts of meats

Blender and strainer!!

Put your liquified or hand squished tomatoes in a big pot.  
You cannot add these things, they will spoil the sauce because of bacteria not being killed off by the canning process. Trust me, don't try it. 
Add some yummies to the pot and simmer for about 4 hours on very low heat. Stir often.

As far as what to add is mostly up to your taste preferences. These are my additions, and in no real measurement, except the lemon juice. DO NOT SAUTE THE GARLIC OR ONIONS!! No oil, remember??!?!
I added: Oregano, Fresh Basil, Kosher Salt, 1/4 cup Lemon Juice (for acidity) 3 Cloves Garlic, Onion or Onion Powder, Brown Sugar, Pepper.

 Oh yeah, and Tomato Paste helps too. Make sure it's only ingredient is tomatoes.

 Simmer Simmer!

So that's how to make the sauce. If you added oil, meat, or dairy products to it, you can freeze it in bags or containers and it will defrost just nicely. If you don't have room in your freezer, canning would be a good option. Part 2 here!

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