Pizza sauce

Pretty much every Friday night at our house is pizza night. We make our own dough, use homemade pizza sauce, cheese from a local dairy, chopped frozen peppers from our garden, plus whatever else we have in the fridge. I haven’t done an exact analysis, but it probably only costs a few dollars for 2 really good pizzas. We can either invite friends over, or have enough leftovers to feed us for another meal.

We’ve been canning a lot of pizza sauce over the past couple of weeks, now that the tomatoes are ripening in large enough quantities. We need at least 4 dozen pints to cover our Friday night pizza ritual, plus some additional sauce for things like pasta bakes.

Here’s a quick look at how we make our sauce:

I harvest about 2 grocery bags full of tomatoes, one full of Roma/paste tomatoes, the other full of regular slicing tomatoes. (These bags aren’t quite as full as I usually do because I already started washing some of the tomatoes before I took this picture.)

I wash the tomatoes, take the cores out, and score the peel along the bottom of each tomato.

Using a big pot of boiling water, I throw the tomatoes in the boiling water for 30-60 seconds, then put them in a sink of cold water. The skins pull off easily and the peeled tomatoes go into our huge roasting pan.

Then I chop coarsely about 6 bell peppers and 2-3 onions (depending on their size). Below, the already chopped peppers and onions are on the left, and the bucket of scraps for the chickens is on the right. I also peel and toss in about 2 heads of garlic.

This is the large roasting pan before the last layer of peeled tomatoes gets put on top:

(Note: before putting this in the oven, tip the pan slightly and remove as much excess liquid as you can. Sometimes I smash down on the tomatoes a bit to squeeze out excess liquid. There seems to be a lot of extra water in the pan from the blanching procedure, which will make your final sauce very runny if you don’t take it out now.)

I roast the vegetables in this pan at about 435 degrees for at least an hour, then I turn it down to 350 degrees for another 2 hours. When it’s done it looks something like this:

At this point I grab a few clean quart size mason jars and start sucking out the wonderful broth from the bottom of the pan with a turkey basting tool. I can get anywhere from 2-4 quarts of broth per batch. I make a vegetable beef soup with the broth during the following week, or freeze it to use later. (This soup is another way I can feed 4 people for at least 2 meals for only a couple of dollars, plus I love that I’m not wasting anything).

After the excess liquid is removed, the cooked vegetables go into the food processor, then dumped into a large stock pot to simmer.

As I’ve gotten better at removing liquid, I have to simmer less because my sauce is thick to begin with. So I usually am ready to can the sauce about an hour after it goes into the pot. I add fresh basil from the garden, oregano, and salt and pepper. The only thing not from my garden in this sauce is the salt and pepper, and the oregano (but next year I hope to be growing my own oregano as well).

We use a pressure canner to process the jars. One big batch of tomatoes will yield about 10 pints of sauce for us.

I haven’t meant for this post to be a complete tutorial, but rather just an overview of how we make our sauce. I was originally inspired by this post at Simple Green Frugal Coop to try making pizza sauce this way. You should do research to find out how to process the jars safely for your altitude, which is why I’m not including specific numbers here. Also, you might want to tweak the recipe a bit by adding sugar, or other spices.

What are you doing with your excess tomato harvest this year?


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One Response to Pizza sauce

  1. What a great idea to remove the liquid first and make soup stock from it. I certainly get tired of waiting for recipes to “cook down” to an acceptable thickness before canning them.

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