02 September 2012

Sauce for the winter

You can only make and eat only so many stuffed tomatoes or tomato-basil-mozzarrella salads in August and September. The rest of the tomatoes, when we are lucky enough to have a surplus, get made into thick, rich sauce that goes right into the freezer.

Making sauce is the best way to use up blemished and misshapen tomatoes. And we've had quite a few of those this year, since our weather in June and July was so damp. Drastic trimming gets rid of the blemishes, leaving big chunks of healthy tomato flesh to put in the sauce pot. Save the perfect tomatoes for salads and garnishes.

About 10 quarts of tomatoes with onion, carrot, celery, etc.

Two pieces of equipment are crucial for sauce making. One is, of course, a big pot to cook the tomatoes in. The other is a food mill, a moulin à légumes, which you use to puree the sauce and remove all the tomato seeds and skin. You also need a sharp knife, a ladle, and some containers to pack the sauce in for freezing (or canning).

Processing the chunky sauce through a food mill (moulin à légumes)...

...leaves you with smooth, thick sauce to enjoy eating later...

...and a mass of tomato seeds and skin for the compost pile.

We nearly filled up a 12-qt. pot with chunks of fresh tomato, diced onions, chopped celery, thyme, white wine, and bay leaves. Salt, pepper, and a tablespoon of sugar. (That frozen block in the pot was some frozen tomato and zucchini pulp and seeds we had saved when we made stuffed vegetables.) The pot bubbled away on the stove for at least 6 hours the other day, at low temperature, so that the sauce would thicken up without burning on the bottom of the pot. It reduced by about a half.

Seven 50 cl containers of sauce for the freezer

After it was cooked, I let it cool in big containers in the refrigerator overnight before I ran it through the food mill. Then we packed it in smaller containers for the freezer. The sauce is easier to work with when it's cold. That many tomatoes gave us 3.5 liters of thick tomato sauce. That's almost a gallon U.S. I hope we'll harvest enough tomatoes this month and next to make at least another gallon of sauce for the winter.


  1. Yum! Can envision lasagna, buschetti, and pizza from that divine tomato sauce!

  2. Ken, You are lucky to have such bounty this year. I've started my sauce making too, but so far just a couple of ziploc bags of smooth sauce and a couple of fromage blanc containers of chunky sauce. Putting in your tomatoes late was a blessing in disguise.

  3. This mix bottles well too, Ken. Use Le Parfait jars and bottle hot. Saves a lot of space in the freezer.

    WV is appropriate: 5 ton hers

  4. Delicious! Nothing beats home made sauce :-)

  5. Hello Ken:
    We should absolutely adore this as we love anything which is made with tomatoes and we can so well believe that this sauce would be perfect to accompany so many dishes.

    Alas we are no cooks and seldom set foot in the kitchen and so it is most unlikely that we should be able to follow this for ourselves with any degree of success.

  6. I agree with Keir. I put in my tomatoes early and the first lot got ruined from mildew. We've had just a few edible tomatoes. Now, the plants have recovered and are full of flowers, but it's a bit late for the fruit to grow and ripen. Guess I'll have to dig up your recipe for green tomatoes. Also, little ziploc bags are great for small portions. Freeze them laying flat and then you can stack them in the freezer.
    Pollygarter also has a good point about putting up a few jars in addition to freezing. I'd hate to see in a post in the winter that a power outage deprived you of all your hard work.
    I put up some green beans last week and then needed them immediately to feed more than expected company -- good, but not as good as frozen or fresh.

  7. That's some good looking sauce. My tomatoes were early this year and I froze some sauce. I found the recipe in the Frugal Italian Cookbook. I used zip locks like Ellen recommended.


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