I was in the produce aisle searching everywhere for a piece of ginger and I happened upon an amazing sale on organic tomatoes. Normally I don’t can tomato sauce until the fall when tomatoes are super cheap. I usually buy 200 lbs at a time and can for a few weekends in a row until I have them all done. I don’t know why these were on sale, or where they came from, but I ended up talking to the manager and got a 25 lb box of organic tomatoes for $9.00. That is pretty awesome for Michigan in May right? So anyway, now I’m home and the tomato sauce is boiling away in the canning pot, so I thought I would post about how to do this. Most of you will have to bookmark this recipe until the fall, because tomatoes are definitely not cheap in the spring :)
If you don’t have a crock pot, any very large stock pot will do. If you don’t want to can it, it freezes very well. In fact, I have frozen several batches of this on purpose previously because you can add the meat! That makes dinner ready in 5 minutes. This recipe makes one batch, in case you just want to throw this in for dinner or something. I am crazy and make every thing in army size portions.
Crock Pot Tomato Sauce with Fresh Tomatoes
1 cup finely chopped celery
2 cups finely chopped onions
2 large, green bell peppers, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
8-10 tomatoes scalded & peeled
2 cans tomato paste
6 ounces fresh mushrooms
Pinch of each: Italian seasoning, garlic salt, parsley, basil, oregano, crushed red pepper.
You can also add 1 lb ground beef, venison, pork etc. But only if you plan to eat it right away, or freeze it. You can also add meat if you have a pressure canner (which I do not)
To prepare tomatoes: dunk tomato in boiling water for 1 minute, then immediately immerse in ice water. The skin will slide right off. Cut tomato in 1/2 and squeeze out the seeds (don’t worry about getting every last seed). No need to chop, they will break down as they cook.
Cook onion & celery in a pan 4-5 minutes (with meat if you are using meat). Combine all ingredients in a crock pot and simmer on low for 8-10 hours. Taste and season as needed. Eat dinner now, freeze now, or continue with the canning steps below.
Meanwhile gather all of your canning materials, and sterilize your jars and lids. Get your large pot of water boiling. Fill hot jars with hot tomato sauce leaving 1 inch of head space. Place lids and rings on jars. Do not over tighten. Place jars in boiled water (using tongs) and process at a full boil for 35-40 minutes. There should be at least 2 inches of water covering the jars. Remove from water (with tongs) and place on a folded towel. As the jars cool, they will seal and you will hear a POP.
My 25 lb box of tomatoes made 7 pints of pasta sauce at 1.28 per jar. Not too shabby considering I don’t have a vegetable garden this year. If you never have to buy produce, you don’t know how lucky you are!
P.S I will post a complete canning tutorial in the fall, and also recipes for tomato paste, so you don’t have to buy that ever again.
I also wanted to remind everyone that if you ever see a great deal on tomatoes, you can freeze them! You just wash and place in a freezer back and freeze them flat, so you can stack the bags. Then the next time you need whole tomatoes in a recipe voila!