Baby tomatoes

Baby tomatoes

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Canning Cookbook- Pizza Sauce

Breaking out the big roaster! It's time to make pizza sauce!

Our first trip to the Amish farm was a pretty good trip. About 10 pounds of gypsy peppers and 40 pounds of tomatoes makes a nice start to the busiest time in my canning season. The majority of those gypsy peppers was diced up and put in the dehydrator to save for cooking throughout the cold winter months. I had other plans for those tomatoes.

Just a couple hours of prep time- quarter the tomatoes, squoosh out the seeds, cut out any bad spots- buzz in the food processor until smooth (yes, skin and all. Save that fiber and vitamin-rich skin) and pour into the roaster.

We make a few pizzas every once in a while at the Little Lake House, and a while back we got to sample some Habanero Pizza Sauce from a company called FireFood. I have been wracking my brain ever since trying to duplicate this recipe. I know enough about hot peppers to know to use caution. But I figure 40 pounds of tomatoes and 3 Habaneros should be a balanced mixture. So....with that in mind, let's start to work on a recipe. So far I have used-

40 lbs tomatoes (unpeeled)
1 medium onion
4 bell peppers (any color)
10 cloves garlic
3 fresh Habanero peppers IF DESIRED (We will talk about alternatives later)

Wash, core and quarter the tomatoes. Use your fingers to remove as many seeds as possible and place in large bowl. Clean and quarter the onion and bell peppers. Remove stems from Habanero peppers (and as many seeds as you desire). Process vegetables in food processor in small batches and pour into large electric roaster. Note: I did not peel my tomatoes. Buzzing in the food processor very finely chops the skin and makes them barely noticeable. You CAN blanch and remove the skins if you desire.

Pour all the pureed veggies into a large roaster and set on 300 degrees.

Cook, stirring often, until reduced by half. Add a couple tablespoons salt, a few grinds of black pepper and anywhere from 1/2 cup to 1 cup sugar during cooking. Taste often. 

About the peppers- if you didn't use fresh Habaneros you can add crushed dried hot peppers such as cayenne to taste. USE CAUTION. Mixture will probably reduce by half so the heat may intensify!! Remember, you can always add Tabasco sauce at the end if you need to.

I am letting mine cook overnight but will turn it way down for the sleeping hours and turn it back up in the morning. Cooking tomato puree in a roaster is a very easy way to get perfect results without worrying about watching a pot on the stove or scorching the bottom if you don't stir often enough. 

The next morning I turn the heat back up to about 275-300 and let it keep cooking. I check it every hour or so and give it a stir to make sure nothing is sticking and it's cooking down evenly. At this point there is nothing in the roaster but the vegetables- no herbs at all. It would be pointless right now to add a bunch of herbs and cook it down so much you've cooked the herb flavors right out.

By early evening the sauce has cooked down to half it's original volume. I don't need this giant roaster anymore (it takes up a lot of counter space) so I shut it down and let it cool off for half an hour or so, then bring out my big crock pot. I recommend transferring the tomato sauce with a ladle. Not the quickest way but it's much less messy and you don't splash hot tomato sauce everywhere.

NOW is the time I start adding my seasonings. I grow all my own herbs so I make my own Italian blend containing basil, parsley, thyme and marjoram. You can use a store bought blend like Italian Seasoning- that will work just fine. You're going to need up to one cup of dried seasoning by the time you're done. Stir about 1/3 cup or so of the dried seasoning into the tomatoes in the crock pot and continue to let it just cook and do it's thing.Why dried seasoning? Fresh herbs are very delicate and they lend a fresh herbal flavor at the END of cooking. Since this is a canning recipe you want to avoid adding fresh herbs because they may interfere with the acid balance and make the recipe possibly unsafe, and processing in a canner will just wipe out their freshness. Always go with dry herbs in a canning recipe.

So after another night of slowly cooking and reducing, we now have a rich and thick tomatoey pizza sauce. It's time to add the rest of the herbs and let that simmer for about an hour, while I get my canner and jars ready to go. Right before adding to jars, add 1/4 cup lemon juice to the sauce (you MUST acidify tomatoes when canning) and stir well. Pour the sauce into pint jars, wipe the rims, fix lids and rings and place in a boiling water canner. Process for 35 minutes, remove jars and let rest for 24 hours before checking seal and removing rings. My crock pot full of delish yielded 7 1/2 pints spicy pizza sauce.

Next step- make pizza !!!

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