If you follow me on instagram (@stocktontia), you’ll probably notice that I am kind of obsessed with pictures of my baby, and of my other babies, my tomatoes. There is something just oh so satisfying seeing those bright red pops hiding behind the green tomato plant leaves, and they are just.so.pretty.
This year I planted four different varieties: Striped Roman (a roma variety), Striped German, Black Krum, and Brandywine. At the beginning of every season, I’m always tempted to buy seeds and be ambitious and grow my own starts; however, here in Montana, the growing season isn’t quite long enough to get as much fruit as if you buy plants. I’ve finally decided that rather than trying to cart trays of dirt in and out of my tiny house and filling the living room with dirt, it’s worth the $4 a plant to just buy the darn things from people who start tomato plants for a living.
With feeding only two adults, my plants usually produce way too much to actually eat before they go bad. My favorite way to preserve is to make them into a basic sauce to can or freeze for future use in anything that asks for tomato sauce. This can be time consuming, but if you have the home-grown fresh tomatoes, it is SO worth it. I can’t even say how much better; you just have to experience it on your own.
There are several different methods of skinning and breaking down the tomatoes; I’ve heard of a more “authentic” version of basically slow roasting the tomatoes whole and trying to peel them hot with a fork, but I’m not sure I could do that without burning myself. So to make things a bit easier, I use a grinder like this one (Velox Tomato Press and Strainer) that you can find on amazon. It works great, doesn’t take up much storage space, and gets all the skin and seeds out of your tomato puree.
Lots of garlic. ‘Nuff said.
The one obstacle to doing this is the fact it’s an all-day endeavor; I like to cook it down at least 5 hours or so. You can cook it as long or as short as you’d like, but the longer it goes, the more full the flavor is.
At the end, throw in a handful of chopped fresh basil; add it too early, and you cook out all the flavor. With the heat we’ve had in Montana lately, this was a great opportunity to use all my basil that’s close to going to seed.
What you need:
- Fresh tomatoes
Grind the tomatoes, or remove skins and process into puree. Place into a saucepan, and bring to a low simmer. Add garlic (I used about 6 pieces) as whole cloves; once the sauce has simmered for a while, the garlic will become soft and you can just mash it with the back of your spoon. Simmer for 4-8 hours, adding salt and basil to taste about 15 minutes from the end. Freeze or can, and use in place of tomato sauce in any recipe.