This is a guest post by my sister, Barbara Dinkins from her farm in Powell, Tennessee.
My summer garden yields bucket after bucket of heirloom tomatoes in July and August. Some are given away; many are eaten but most are canned as either sauce or salsa in order to enjoy that summer bounty in the off-season. For me, there are few greater pleasures than the sense of accomplishment I feel after turning a couple buckets of tomatoes into jars that capture the chaos of the garden at its peak in order to enjoy it in the winter months when red, gold and green exuberance is just a memory.
I needed a quick way of canning sauce at those times when they are producing so fast that it is hard to keep up. For this reason, I don’t can the completed sauce. When it is time to eat the sauce, I add in sauteed onions, sweet peppers, garlic, Italian seasoning, salt and if needed, some tomato paste to thicken it up.
Making the canned sauce is very simple. Instead of going through the process of parboiling and slipping off the skin, I was introduced by a friend to a faster method. It keeps the nutritious skin in the sauce without having to deal with the unpleasant texture of the skins. I use a steaming water bath rather than a regular water bath. I like this method for my tomato sauce as it is quicker and more energy efficient for large batches of sauce, not to mention the heat in the kitchen is reduced.
15 – 20 pounds of heirloom tomatoes
4 Bay leaves
6 T Lemon juice
6 t Sugar
Sterilize five clean quart jars, clean lids, canning rings and canning funnel in the dishwasher. Set up the steaming water bath*.
Wash, core and cut out bad areas of each tomato. Slice each tomato in half along the equator and briefly squeeze some of the juice and seeds into a colander sitting over a large bowl. The juice that collects in the bowl under the colander should be reserved**. Quarter each half and place the pieces into a food processor. Puree and pour into a non-reactive stock pot.
Start a second pot when the first is ¾ full. Add two bay leaves to each pot. Boil the puree. The pot needs to to be watched carefully until the puree is through the foaming stage and begins to boil under control. Be sure and stir continually and watch the pot until the foam has dissolved back into the sauce. This will help avoid over boiling and a big mess on your stove.
Boil until sauce has reduced enough that it mounds up slightly when you push it to the side and the bubbles become single. Continue to stir frequently so the sauce will not burn on the bottom of the pot.
Add 3 T of lemon juice and 3 t of sugar to each pot and mix well. The lemon juice is to ensure the acidity of the sauce because heirloom tomatoes can be of varying acidity and the acid is necessary for this type of canning. The sugar is to offset the sourness of the lemon juice.
Fill jars leaving ½ inch of head space, wipe jar rims clean with a paper towel dipped into the hot water in the canner. Attach lids. Place filled jars in the canners. Process for 30 minutes at sea level, longer at higher altitudes.(1 additional minute for every 1000 feet of altitude). Label and store in a dark cabinet or pantry after taking a picture to boast of your accomplishment.
*You can get a steam water bath canner on Amazon. It is my favorite method of canning large batches of tomato sauce. You can also use the regular water bath canning method for this recipe.
**Use the reserved juice to drink as fresh tomato juice. Even better, season it with salt, pepper, and hot sauce and use as a mixer for an afternoon bloody Mary!