Friday, February 24, 2012

Veggie Tomato Sauce and My FIRST Canning Experience

Continued from Intro to My First Canning Experience...

I made my own veggie-tomato sauce from scratch today. And...successfully canned it. Yes! That's a first for two things at once. Last night I went to bed early (around 9pm), and then woke up at 4am. Wide awake, and couldn't go back to sleep. I got up, ate some of my homemade granola. And then laid in bed for about 2 hours thinking about making and canning this tomato sauce. I was determined to do it today.

It wasn't very cost-effective (since I bought everything from the store this time), but the point of making it today was 1. to see how I like it, and 2. learn how to can. Once my garden gets up and going, I will have most everything to make this sauce in my little teeny tiny backyard. Now THAT is exciting! It turned out sooooo good that I'm even more motivated to get the tomatoes planted, and more anxious for the herbs to grow. Fresh organic herbs are expensive...compared them being (pretty much) free in my own back yard. Adrian says I have to first prove that I can keep the herbs and tomatoes alive, and then he will build an above ground vegetable planter like this, this or this-- I want a combination of the three. I definitely want mine on casters!

I plan on making a second batch of this tomorrow since I have enough of the ingredients left. (I wanted to do two batches, but Adrian recommended to just start with one and see how it tastes.) I'm also very exited about the many veggies hidden in there!

The Sauce (recipe very slightly changed from here)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 yellow sweet onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, shredded
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup fresh parsley
2 tbsp. fresh basil, chopped (or 2 tsp. dried)
1 tbsp. fresh oregano (or 1 tsp. dried)
1 tbsp. fresh thyme (or 1 tsp. dried)
6 cups medium tomatoes, chopped (I used Roma)
1 small can (6 oz)  tomato paste
1 tbsp. honey
salt and pepper to taste

I reccommend chopping up all the veggies and herbs first. I really really don't like shredding carrots. All the other veggies went pretty fast. But, hopefully I will get a mini food processor for my b-day to make this part faster :). Ps: The garlic is hiding under the onions. I put them into three separate bowls based on which ingredients went into the pot at what time.

1. Onions and garlic. 2. Tomatoes 3.Carrots, bell peppers, and ALL herbs 

Yummy! Don't those look delicious! The best part of this recipe is that it isn't necessary to peel them.

Saute the onions and garlic in the olive oil until soft and transparent.
Add carrots, bell peppers, and all herbs.
At this point, I got a little too busy to take more pictures of the sauce making process....So, if you are canning this, you will need to heat up your jars, lids, boil the water ....and read the directions on how to cook everything at the same time. Next time it will be a lot easier, because I already have this process memorized.

Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, honey, and salt & pepper. Make sure to taste it. I ended up adding a lot more salt then I thought I would. (Next time I will measure it.) Continue to simmer for 15-30 minutes. I should have kept it covered, because I felt like a lot of the liquid evaporated, so I ended up adding about 1/2 cup of water.

Remove the bay leaves, and funnel into your hot canning jars, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. Add 1 tbsp of vinegar or lemon juice to each jar and stir gently. Wipe the residue off the rims with a paper towel.  Place the hot lids on top and screw on the lids (fingertip tight, which means: not tight at all, just barely screw the lid on with your fingers).

Then place in your canner (aka: pot of boiling water), for 35 minutes.  In case you're wondering, that's a clean kitchen towel at the bottom of my pot to keep them from rattling around. 

Remove the jars and set on a kitchen towel on the counter.

Right after the jars were out of the canner, I had to run some errands. So...I didn't get to hear the magical "pop" that meant they sealed, but I was so excited to get home and gently run my finger over the lid and feel that they DID SEAL!

The recipe made (almost) 3 pints. I saved the 3rd to eat today for dinner. I ended up deciding to blend it in my magic bullet, rather than eat it chunky. It was delicious over some pasta and sprinkled with a little Parmesan cheese. The meal was a million times tastier just knowing that I made it! (And I felt good eating it with all the veggies in there) I can't wait to try it over some brown rice, on a baked potato, on some homemade pizza....what else can I think of?

Chunky (canned sauce) on the left, and blended on the right. I will probably blend it next time before I can it.

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