I dread, dread, dread the end of my favorite season of the year. With the passing of Labor Day weekend suddenly summer is “over”. Why, when so often the best ‘summer’ weather happens in September and October here in Illinois? But I digress, and yes, subconsciously, Labor Day draws that stake-in-the-sand and it’s ‘back to school’ mode, change-in-season mode, and for me at least, new year mode. So that said. Happy New Years! Break out the champagne bottles, oh wait, better yet, the canning jars…
I have no control over the change in temperature or season (what up with the almost 50 degree temperature change over the course of the holiday weekend? but that is a whole other discussion). And I seem to have no control over my fleeting resolution, made every year, that I am going to make this the best summer ever. Ok Miz Ferris Bueller, you STILL have not made it to Wrigley Field this year, so that, along with other best laid plans, are right out the window ’til ‘next year’. Now what I figure I can control is some summer preservation. Yep, I am gonna put it in a jar.
Every year one of those seasonal resolutions has been to ‘put up sauce’, or in layman’s terms, make and can homemade tomato sauce. Don’t know why this has eluded each year, when I have managed to make jam, or freeze berries, or pickle a bevy of veg. Perhaps the thought of the pounds of tomatoes that I would need to skin and seed, transform into sauce and then bathe the jars, for how long, in a boiling bath of water kept me from tackling the task.
I might not have seen my Cubs, gone to Ravinia or the Pritzker Pavilion (though apparently I became the Pritzker Pavilion, according to Bill Curits, but again a story for another day), or gotten in enough inline skate time, but I did finally mange to ‘put up sauce’. Or I should say ‘we’ ‘put up sauce’. Total. Team. Effort. ‘Team’ being my husband and I. And in this case have to say teamwork worked really well’. Suddenly the putting up of the sauce’? Not so daunting. And worked so well we are gonna have at it again this weekend.
Mo & Dick’s Summer in a Jar Sauce
30 lbs San Marzano (or any plum style) tomatoes
1 head of garlic chopped (more or less if you like, who am I to dictate how much garlic you like)
1 bunch of fresh basil (left on stems, with about 10 large leaves set aside)
salt & pepper to taste
10 one quart glass canning jars and lids
Cover the bottom of a large (and deep) pot with olive oil. Heat over a medium low heat. Add garlic and give a quick saute (less than a minute).
Remove the stem side of each tomato. Give all a rough chop. (scoring, peeling, seeding? forgetaboutit)
Add the tomatoes and salt and pepper. Cook down, about 40 minutes. Add the whole basil bunch and let it steep for at least 10 minutes. Remove the basil bunch.
Remove pot of sauce from the heat. Using an immersion blender (or as I like to call it, the boat motor) puree the sauce completely. Yeah skins, seeds, and all.
Now if you have the freezer space, you could skip the canning and freeze sauce in plastic jars. If proceeding with canning, clean and sterilize (dishwashers work great for this) your jars. Dry jars completely. Fill each jar with sauce, leaving at least an inch from the top. Optional: put a whole large basil leaf on the top of each jar of sauce. Cap the jars. Immerse jars in a bath of boiling water. Different sources (and jar manufacturers) will give different processing times, but I found that 40 minutes for tomatoes worked well. Make sure the cans are completely covered in water. Remove from water (yeah some sources have you let the jars cool while immersed in the water and some will have you remove from the water). Once jars are out of the water and cooling you will hear the ‘pop’ which means your jar is sealed.