The One With All the Tomatoes


Last year I decided I was going to figure out how to make pasta sauce. .. I am such a fan of going to the farmer’s market and while I am not the healthiest of eaters, making food from scratch helps offset the addiction to chocolate.

Then I realized that I would either need to start feeding the entire neighborhood or freeze the sauce. So every weekend I would hit up the local markets, buy all kinds of colorful tomatoes and cook. Basically, my weekends consisted of football and cooking. But I had a problem, the whole getting the sauce in ziplock bags was messy and I ended up with limited space in my very small freezer.

Enter canning: okay here’s the deal, my granny used to do this canning thing. I don’t remember it but I remember my mom saying that it was tricky and well, mom did have a full time job and family back then, so no canning. I first went to Google, aka my bestie, to figure out what was needed, what I would need to do and the most important part, not harming myself or others with this little venture.

I had no interest in using a pressure cooker because, hello, I am a disaster waiting to happen. After consulting a few people here and there, I came up with the tools needed to can and tried it one weekend this past summer. I have learned that it gets very hot in the kitchen while trying to can and that no amount of cold air will keep you from sweating.

I was a bit miffed when the first few batches came out and I only yielded about seven jars of sauce. But I just keep marching forward, buying more tomatoes, bell peppers and onions. The Green Door Grocery loves seeing me pull in on Saturdays because they know I am about to have a field day with their produce.

Yesterday I made my weekly visit and went big this time. . . 20 pounds of maters for about $1 a pound. These are the seconds, the ones that don’t make it into their CSA baskets. To me, they are just fine to cook with, so let me grab several boxes! Just kidding, I believe one box per weekend will keep me busy.

This morning I quartered tomatoes, bell peppers and onions. . .dumped my seasonings and olive oil in to three stock pots and let them loose on the world. I also made salsa (thank you Alton Brown for the recipe, PERFECT!), This weekend’s yield: 15 jars of sauce. . .

People, I still have several more weekends of fetching maters, put your name in for some sauce. I think at some point I will try canning salsa and while I am at it, my BBQ sauce. I really should branch out more but I only have limited counter space for prep work.

The most satisfying part of this is hearing that little POP! when the suction has completed. My mom even likes my sauce. Who knew?

Doing some really rough math, each jar of sauce costs me about three bucks, which is about on target with the sauce at the grocery store but doesn’t have the preservatives and junk in them.

So yes, I have a problem, I can’t stop buying tomatoes and making sauce. I would apologize but I do feel like this is a great use of my free time. Maybe one day I will show up on Food Network hawking my skills. Or maybe I will just hope to have my dream kitchen at some point.

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