One thing I look forward to in the Summer and Fall is a bountiful harvest of tomatoes. I plant a variety of tomatoes each year. I always plant in a new location from the previous year, even if it’s on the right side of the bed instead of the left side. If I can fend off all disease and deer for as long as possible, there’s a big chance that I will be picking huge buckets of tomatoes every few days, especially in August. It’s important to know how to process tomatoes, otherwise, you’ll have tomatoes in every part of your condition beginning to go to waste.
Processing tomatoes can be done in many ways, depending on what kind of tools you have and how many steps you want to go through. After all, there’s a time in processing a harvest, when you start saying, “leaving the seeds in there is totally fine!” or “It doesn’t need to be pureed.” So, it’s up to you! If it fits your recipes, then that’s how you should process them.
Processing Tomatoes for Sauce
I’ll give you a step by step of one way to process tomatoes in bulk without any processing tools.
1. Wash your tomatoes and put them into a giant pot (I did divide them into 2 pots after the picture).
2. Add water and boil until skins loosen. Carefully pour into a colander and place in ice water, or run cold water over them and let them cool.
3. Here is where it would be nice to have a sauce maker like this one. Place the colander over your pot and crush the tomatoes until all that is left in your colander is skins and some seeds. You can then strain again through a wire mesh to remove the seeds
NOTE: For the photo below I did not do step 3. I was going to put my final mixture in a blender and did not want to bother with deseeding. Use either method that you prefer. If you choose to use the blender, you will have some seeds left.
4. Add to taste:
- chopped green pepper
- chopped onion
- sugar (if desired) according to taste.
5. Bring sauce to a simmer to cook off a lot of the liquid. Stir often so nothing burns on the bottom. When the sauce is to the consistency and taste that you want, it’s time to can!
6. Prepare canning jars. Kill all bacteria on jars by placing in boiling water for 10 minutes.
7. Add i tablespoon lemon juice to each jar. This increases the acidity just enough to counteract the vegetables that you added to make sure your sauce stays fresh.
- While sauce is still very hot, pour into jars, leaving 1/2 inch of space at the top (if you do not fill enough, they will not seal properly).
- Seal and process them in boiling water for 40 minutes. Remove the jars from the water and allow them to cool. You will see (and hear) the tops pop down when they are almost cool.
You’ve just canned sauce that will last a long time on your shelf! Make sure you label so that you remember what it is.
If you do not want to can, you can still put it into jars and freeze them. Just make sure you leave more room at the top (at least 2 inches). Frozen liquid expands and you don’t want the jar to burst.