Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Summer Tomato Sauce: Canning Made Easier
I've been shying away from canning tomatoes for a very long time. Most years, when the tomato harvest hits, I spend my time roasting up batches of delicious plum tomatoes and packing them into the freezer. You'll also find me busily dehydrating all of the Principe Borghese tomatoes we've harvested from our garden. But, canning?
Not sure what it was, but for years I avoided canning. This year, I took it up out of necessity.
Our chest freezer has been a savior for us when it comes to our ability to eat more locally all winter long. We pack it full of frozen fruit, vegetables, locally raised meat, soup, and homemade sauces. And we relish the days when we can pop it open in the middle of February to produce a container of fresh Wisconsin peaches, Door County Cherries, or spicy chili made with garden vegetables. Unfortunately, we've done a really good job of stowing things away in the freezer. And our freezer is getting full. The realization hit me a few weeks ago after clearing away just enough space for a new batch of late summer Amish chickens.
We were out of space.
Fortunately, I had cut my canning teeth on a few easy items last summer. Pickled & candied jalapenos, a few jars of tomatillo salsa, and a small stash of citrus marmalade gave me some confidence in my ability to create shelf-stable foods that wouldn't inflict us with botulism. So, this year, I decided to tackle tomatoes. More specifically, pasta sauce.
I love a good homemade pasta sauce as much as anyone. But, I also have learned to enjoy the convenience of an occasional jar of store-bought pasta sauce for quick weeknight dinners. So, pasta sauce seemed like a pretty logical investment of our time and tomato money.
West Bend Food Strainer & Sauce Maker.
I should probably clarify that I'm not much of a gadget girl. I love the feeling of being creative and finding multiple uses for common kitchen tools. And my kitchen is pretty small -- so I don't have a whole lot of space for single-use tools. But, I'm pretty in love with this tool. This multi-use strainer forces food through a stainless steel screen automatically separating the juice and pulp from the seeds skins and stem. Best of all, it does it quickly and efficiently. And I mean quickly. And efficiently.
To quote Peef, "I love it when I can seed and peel tomatoes with one hand while drinking a beer with the other."
Once we got all that raw tomato pulp and juice extracted from the tomatoes, it was just a matter of cooking the sauce with a few herbs and spices (namely basil, oregano, thyme, cracked anise seeds, and garlic) and reducing it to the perfect pasta sauce consistency. Once that was completed, we moved along to the canning and processing phase of things -- which is pretty methodical.
Canned Pizza or Pasta Sauce ala Burp!
And now for the fun part! We get to give one of our lucky readers the chance to win a West Bend Food Strainer & Sauce Maker of his or her very own!!
For your chance to win, just leave us a comment sharing one of your favorite time-saving canning tips. Or, if you're not a canner, let us know how you'd use your food strainer to make one of your kitchen tasks easier.
Rules: All comments must be received by Monday evening, September 12th, 2011 at 5:00 p.m. CST Winners will be announced on Facebook before the end of the day on Tuesday, September 13th. Entrants must provide a working email address in their comment or blogger profile to win. Limited to citizens of the U.S. and Canada.
Alright, ready...set... go!
Full Disclosure: Although we were given West Bend Company products free of charge for the purpose of this review and giveaway, all opinions expressed in this review are our own.
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