Saturday, October 22, 2011

Eating My Own Words...Or At Least My Tomatoes & Peppers

So before Thanksgiving I kind of "made fun" of my mom and what I thought she would have prepared for our Thanksgiving dinner. It turns out that I was totally wrong. My mom had decided to go "simple" as she stuck to turkey, stuffing, and a few side dishes. WOW! Even my husband sat down to dinner, looked at the table, and said "where are the sausages?". So I even though I tell people to never assume things, I didn't take my own advice...but I should!

Now I always seem to make fun of the fact that my mom cooks like she's feeding an army of 20 sometimes, but I just realized that I may have grown up to be just or almost like her. Soon after Thanksgiving, my husband and I decided to take on the farmer's market. Why? We thought we'd attempt to go "old school" and make and jar our own tomato sauce and roasted red peppers. Yes, our parents were very proud....and they also may have thought we were a little crazy. It wasn't the fact that we wanted to try to make and jar this stuff that made their eyes pop out, but we decided to buy 6 bushels to work with: 3 bushels of Roma tomatoes and 3 bushels of red peppers!!

This is only 2 bushels. We had 4
more bags.
A bushel equals 36.38 litres. We bought 109.14 litres of tomatoes, and 109.14 litres of red peppers! What were we thinking???? Well...we obviously weren't. Or, we just had some delusional idea of how easy and fun it would be.

So, making your own sauce is not hard, but it takes some work. Honestly, the part that is the most fun is either having a shot of brandy to help warm you up as you work outside in the cold (because it's a really messy thing to do inside) or when you have finished and can get excited about how much sauce you have.

Getting ready to start.
Feat #1: lifting these heavy bags onto the table.

The tomato workstation.
1. Cut the tops off of the tomatoes and cut a small "X" into the bottom.
2. Boil the tomatoes until the skin starts to peel off, then let them cool. (this shouldn't take too long)
3. Once they're cool, peel the skin off of the tomatoes (so annoying and messy)
4. You can either de-seed them (way too much time) or do what we did and just put them through a food/meat grinder.
5. Heat up some olive oil in a LARGE pot. (It helps if you have a burner that works off of propane. They are so fast. Thanks Mom!) Throw in some onion, garlic, grated or processed carrot and celery (or really anything you don't even have to put anything other than tomatoes in it if you don't want to).
6. Pour the ground up tomatoes into the pot. Bring it to a boil and let it simmer until it reaches the consistency you want. (We went for the not too chunky but not too watery sauce...that way it may be used for more things than just pasta sauce. So we had to let it simmer for at least about 40-60 minutes.)
7. Pour the sauce into cleaned jars, and put the lids on as soon as you can. It will be really hot to handle, but you'll hear the jars "pop" soon because of the heat of the sauce (that way you don't have to boil the jars to seal them).
8. Clean up the mess of tomatoes all over the place (this is gross, annoying, and will lead to prune like fingers).

My husband hard at work.


1. Barbecue the peppers on each side until they start to blacken a little and the skin starts to pull away.
2. After they've cooled a bit, peel the skin off of the peppers, take the tops off, and de-seed them.
3. Clean some jars, and pour a bit of vinegar into each one (about one or two fingers-width worth, depending on the size of the jar).
4. Mix the peppers with some vinegar and red wine, and start to place them in the jars (and pour yourself a glass of that red wine to help you stop wondering when you'll be done).
5. Once the jars are full, pour in some of the leftover juice from when you mixed the peppers into each jar.
6. Run a knife along the inside edge of each jar to get rid of any air bubbles. This will cause some more of the liquid inside to rise up...that's good.
7. Pour a little olive oil in the top of each jar and  seal it.
8. Put each jar into a pot of water, at least to the brim of the jar's cap. Bring the water to a boil and leave the jar in there until you hear it "pop". This means it is sealed.

**you could also add in some chopped up garlic into the jars before adding olive oil.

Jarred and ready to eat.

We had to try it out!

So now I have about 40 litres of tomato sauce and 15 litres of roasted red peppers....I think I'm good for the next couple of years! Your turn!!

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