Here’s to NOT giving myself Botulism!

This is an old recipe and an old adventure.

I just got back from a 5 week adventure in New England and started a masters program in Clinical Psychology, so what do I do with my first weekend? Get ahead on readings? Sleep in? Go hiking? Work on my thesis? Nope, I decide to can my own tomato sauce. I’ve learned this can be dangerous because tomatoes don’t have a high enough Ph to stop Botulism, and I don’t have a pressure canner.

It was a messy tiring process, but look at the results

Ready for the winter!

25 lbs of good quality tomatoes (I got mine at the farmers market) – the uglier heirloom varieties are amazing!

3 c chopped onions

7 medium cloves of garlic – chopped

3 bay leaves

8 stems of fresh oregano, chopped

1 rind of Parmesan cheese

1/4 c olive oil

A bit bottle of lemon juice

Canning jars & new lids – I used pint jars because it will mostly just be me and maybe the boyfriend eating the sauce. You could also use quarts.

Prepare the jars and lids just as I did in making the Strawberry Lemon Ginger Jam.

I split and roasted about half of the tomatoes in the oven with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt & pepper at 250 for 10-12 hrs. I realize this may seem like a long time, but it really intensifies the flavors and almost sweetens them a bit. You don’t have to do this, but I had time and indulged.

For the tomatoes you don’t roast, wash them and then score and blanch them. To score them just slice a small x on the bottom of the tomato. You only want to slice though the skin, not into the flesh of the tomato. Toss the tomatoes into a pot of boiling water for about 30 seconds then into an ice bath. This will allow the skins to slide off like water off a penguin.

You need to skin ALL the tomatoes, roasted ones too. The skin should slide pretty easily off the roasted tomatoes. Some people take the time to discard the seeds while chopping the tomatoes, but I didn’t worry about it. Also supposedly the seeds contain most of the flavor and some of the thickening agent for the sauce.

Start onions and garlic sauteing in the olive oil in the biggest pot you have. When the onions start to become translucent, add all the tomatoes.  Put in all the bay leaves, oregano, and the Parmesan rind. Simmer this for at least 20 min and up to 2 hours. Make sure you stir regularly because this can burn easily.

While the sauce is cooking you’ll prepare your jars that have been boiled and are air drying by adding 1 T of lemon juice. If you are making quarts use 2 T of lemon juice. Don’t skip this step! This is what helps you not get botulism.

When the sauce is as thick as you want, taste and finish with salt and pepper. I under seasoned mine a bit because I already had salted and peppered my roasted tomatoes and I wasn’t sure if/how the taste would change over time sitting in my pantry. If you can, fish out the Parmesan rind and the bay leaves.

Carefully ladle the sauce into the jars with lemon juice. Wipe the rims with a damp paper towel, giving each rim a clean side. Press on the new lids and screw down the rims, but make sure to leave them loose enough that you can open them. Return the full jars to the canner filled with boiling water. Boil the jars for about 20 min. Afterwards pull them out and make sure the jars sealed by checking the dimple in middle of the lid.

Keep the tomato sauce in a cool dark cupboard or pantry until you need it.

I love having mushrooms and all sorts of things in my tomato sauce, but you can’t add those to the canned version if don’t have a pressure canner. You have to keep the acidity high without the heat and pressure to kill the bacteria.

Until later

life is short, lick the spoon!


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