2022-09-24

An encouragement: Tomato sauce

Tomato sauce! We go through so much of it I’ve always thought it might be one those things that’s worthwhile to make in bulk, but so many recipes involved peeling endless tiny tomatoes and/or removing seeds, neither of which sounds the slightest bit appealing. This method involves slow-roasting, which makes the skins more or less melt away and which takes very little effort indeed. It does need a food processor.

Time involved: Five or six hours total
Active time: Maybe a little over half an hour

First, have it be August when there’s a ready supply of nice cheap Roma tomatoes. Buy a 25lb box of tomatoes (don’t pay more than $1/lb), a couple of onions, a few heads of garlic and a few red peppers.

81/365 Sept 11: Tomato sauce - before

I say 25lbs because that’s how much my oven holds either in two large roasting trays or four smaller foil trays from the dollar store. The oven’s going to be on for hours; may as well fill it up and make it worthwhile.

Put on some music. Wash everything. Take the stem ends off the tomatoes and cut them in half or in quarters. This works well as an assembly-line kind of thing, if there’s someone else you can lasso into helping. Toss the tomato chunks right into the trays. Do the same for the rest of the veggies. It looks like a huge pile of tomatoes but really it’s about 20 minutes of work here.

Tomato sauce - before

Pour a bit of olive oil and a splash of balsamic vinegar (if you have it) over each finished tray then pop them in the oven and set it to around 300F.

About once an hour, switch the trays around and give everything a good stir. You can ignore them the rest of the time.

After a number of hours — probably five or so — it’ll get to a point where the volume has decreased to about 1/3 of the starting volume and there’s very little obvious liquid left in the bottom of the trays. Now it’s done. Don’t worry about cooking it too much though. If it ends up too thick for your taste you can always thin it down with a bit of water or wine.

Tomato sauce - after

Scrape the trays directly into the food processor, process it until it’s smooth, then pour into containers and freeze. It’ll need salt but I find salting is best done at the point of use. If you think you’ll forget and end up eating oddly bland sauce, salt it while it’s in the food processor.

There! Easy tomato sauce.

Other encouragements: jam, chicken stock.