Universal Tomato Sauce
The fall harvest brings a bounty of tomatoes that can be hard to keep up with. If you have the room, one trick is to put whole tomatoes into freezer bags and store in the freezer, pulling them out to make sauce on the spot, any time of the year. You can also store pre-made homemade tomato sauce in the freezer, and pull out what you need for sauces year-round.
Freezing tomatoes removes one of the hardest steps in making tomato sauce from scratch: peeling. Normally, to peel tomatoes, you need to blanch them in boiling water and then dunk them in an ice bath to release the skins. To peel frozen tomatoes, all you have to do is run them under warm water and the skins usually fall right off (some varieties are harder to work with than others). Large tomatoes make this process even easier since you have fewer to peel.
This recipe is designed to use up a large quantity of tomatoes, although you can adjust to make any size batch. Use this sauce as a base to tailor to any style of dish you want by adding herbs and/or spices later. Choose organic tomatoes when you can for the best flavor without pesticide contamination.
According to a recent study published in the Journal of Food Processing and Preservation, both fresh and frozen organic tomatoes beat out their conventional counterparts for flavor and antioxidants, and were pesticide-free when tested. Pesticides were detected in fresh conventional tomatoes, and again after being frozen for three months.
- Large pot for boiling up to 15 pounds of tomatoes
- Freezer storage containers or bags
- 10-15 lbs. ripe tomatoes (you can use any amount--just adjust the salt as needed)
- 1 tablespoon salt or an adjusted amount if using fewer tomatoes
- Olive oil for sautéing
- OPTIONAL: 3 cloves minced garlic and 1 finely chopped onion
- Freeze tomatoes whole in a plastic bag at least overnight
- Run frozen tomatoes under warm water to peel
- Coarsely chop the tomatoes (don’t worry even though they are frozen, this is easier than you think)
- Put a few tablespoons of olive oil in the pot over medium heat
- OPTIONAL: sauté chopped onions for 5 minutes or until translucent, then add garlic and simmer about 30 seconds.
- Add chopped tomatoes and salt, and simmer on medium heat for 30 minutes to 60 minutes. The longer you simmer, the thicker and more concentrated the sauce will be. Keep in mind that as the sauce cooks and becomes more concentrated, so does the salt.
- Once the desired concentration is reached, taste and add salt as needed.
- Let the sauce cool, and place in freezer storage containers in portions appropriate for making future sauces (1–3 cups).
- If using freezer bags, then place the bags on their sides and on a cookie sheet to freeze. This makes them easy to stack once frozen.
- Sauce will last several months in the freezer.
Banner Photo Credit: Heather Ford; unsplash.com