All my life, I have always thought that pasta sauce came from a jar. I never gave a second thought to ever making something like tomato sauce at home. Even in college, when pressed for money, I found making my own sauce a bit daunting. I mean, why bother when I can go to the supermarket, buy a jar, and have it ready to eat in just a few minutes?
But as I am trying to be more aware of what I eat, and especially after reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, a great book that details our tenable relationship with the foods we eat, the idea of making as much of my foods as I can has become not only more important to me but in fact, necessary. And what is better to start weaning myself away from processed foods with than the most ubiquitous one of all, tomato sauce.
This recipe is wonderful. The tomato sauce is rich in what else, but tomato flavor with a subtle sweet and sourness that cannot be replicated when preservatives and artificial flavors are added. The stuff found on the shelves of the supermarket pales in comparison with its overly sour and salted taste. The cinnamon and nutmeg in this recipe adds that peculiar flavor that enhances the honey-sweetened sauce. While I’ve only made this recipe in small batches, it would definitely be worth it to jar some myself!
Family Secret Tomato Sauce from Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
10 quarts tomato puree (about 30 lbs. tomatoes)
4 large onions, chopped
1 cup dried basil
½ cup honey
4 tbs. dried oregano
3 tbs. salt
2 tbsp ground lemon peel
2 tbsp. thyme
2 tbs. garlic powder (or more, to taste)
2tbs. dried parsley
2 tsp. pepper
2 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
bottled lemon juice or citric acid – NOT optional, if canning
1. Soften onions in a heavy 3-gallon kettle – add a small amount of water if necessary but no oil if you are canning (very important!).
2. Add pureed tomatoes and all seasonings, bring to a boil, and simmer on low heat for two to three hours until sauce has thickened to your liking. Stir frequently, especially toward the end, to avoid burning.
3. Meanwhile, heat water in canner bath, sterilize jars in boiling water or dishwasher, and pour boiling water over jar lids.
4. Add 2 tbsp of lemon juice OR ½ tsp. citric acid to each quart jar, (half that much to pint jars). This is ensures that the sauce will be safely acidic. When the sauce is ready, ladle it into the jars leaving ½ inch headspace. Put jars into canner and boil for 35 minutes. Remove, cool, check all seals, label and store for winter.
All the times I have made this recipe, I’ve quartered the tomatoes and roasted them in the oven on broil for about ten or so minutes with olive oil and just a little salt and pepper before pureeing them. I think this brings out the slightly sweet and sour flavors of the tomatoes, especially if you are making this when tomatoes are not in season.
I have also never canned the recipe, making just enough to eat for dinner and it has always been delicious! This is a very easy recipe to adjust the amount or type of spices to your liking. But I definitely recommend adding the honey, cinnamon and nutmeg!