Homemade Tomato Sauce

There is something wonderful that happens when you harvest fruits and veggies from your garden that you have spent months loving and tending, bring them inside and turn them into yumminess. There’s something reassuring when you know exactly what was used to help make them grow. Last summer I had the joyful job of learning how to make my own mater sauce and can. For what ever reason I had this thought in my head that canning and turning tomatoes into sauce was this daunting task. It certainly wasn’t the herculean quest I thought it would be, but definitely a process.

I learned a few things.

1. You don’t necessarily have to do the whole water bath thing. Run the mason jars and lids through the dishwasher on the sanitizing cycle with heat dry and try to time it so that the dishwasher ends when the sauce is ready. As long as the jars/lids and the sauce are nice and hot, they should pop on their own without having to do the water bath mess. If the tops don’t pop then you might have to do some water bathing. I only had to do this for 1 of about 30 jars we did last year. You can also just put the jars and lids in boiling water, pull them and fill. Same concept, works just as well.

2. Avoid putting herbs/garlic/onions in with your sauce. As they sit in the sauce they can make it bitter and taste funny.

3. You don’t need anything but tomatoes if that be your desire.

4. The longer you cook the tomato puree, the thicker it gets and the more like tomato paste or marinara it becomes. There’s a sweet spot.

SO, now that that is all out of the way, time for the actual sauce making process.

Pluck your maters! I found that for about every 30 medium tomatoes I would get 2 quart jars of sauce. We used a combination of heirlooms and romas.

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Romas!

Phase I. Line up your work station. As much as I hate having an electric stove, the flat top can double as extra counter space now and again. Left to right I have a pot of boiling water on the far burner. Next to that on a cool part of the stove I have a bowl full of ice water. On the counter I have a bowl for scraps, my cutting board, and another bowl to put the processed tomatoes.

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1. To remove the skins, place a few in the boiling water for 10 seconds to a minute. Some skins break and start to release almost automatically. Some need a wee bit more time. Once you do it for a while you kind know what they feel like when the skin has separated, and obviously you can visibly see when it splits.

2. Place the maters in an ice bath so that they are cool enough to handle.

3. Peal the skins off of the maters and put the skins in bowl #1. With your hands or a knife split the tomato into smaller pieces/chunks. Remove as much of the seeds as you can now and throw them in your scraps bowl.

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4. The tomato chunks go into bowl two to await their next step.

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Repeat until all of the tomatoes you harvested have gone through this process. When you’re done, clean it all up but leave out your bowl of maters and your scrap bowl. Get out a large pitcher or another bowl and your blender. You are now ready for Phase II.

Fill your blender about 1/2 full of the tomato chunks and blend until smooth. Feel free to leave a few chunks if you’re into that kind of sauce. Pour your puree into your bowl/pitcher. Repeat until all of your chunks have been blended.

Place a big pot on a front burner of your stove on medium-low heat. Place a relatively fine sifter/screen over the top of your pot. Pour the tomato puree through and stir to help the sauce through the screens. This removes the seeds that are still there and any chunks. You can choose to reblend them for smooth sauce or pull them out, make sure they don’t have seeds stuck to them and throw them in the pot. This is the longest part of the whole process and would be much easier with a food mill. Which we haven’t invested in yet.

To the very runny, kinda pink, not very tomato-saucey stuff in your pot I add about 1 cup- 1 1/2 cup of white granulated sugar. Again, this depends on how much sauce you are making. I also added about 3 tablespoons or so of salt. I leave the pot on medium heat for about 3 hours. Check and stir every 20-30 minutes to avoid the bottom burning. This also helps you gauge about when to start your dishwasher if you are using that method.

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Again, the longer you cook it down, the thicker and more paste like it becomes. When I use a jar, I like to simmer it on the stove with a crushed garlic clove, fresh minced onion and herbs so I keep my sauce a bit on the thin side to accommodate for my cooking style.

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The beginning of the cooking process

When the sauce is ready, my mom, dad and I tag teamed to make the process quick. I laid down a dishtowel on the counter. Mom pre-washed the brand new jars and lids. Dad boiled the jars, rings and lids because I think it is easier than the dishwasher for small batches. Dad pulled them, I fill with sauce, screw the tops on and repeat until the sauce is gone or I don’t have enough for a jar and have to put them in freezer containers. If the jar tops haven’t popped in about an hour, you should submerge it in boiling water to make sure that happens.

This particular batch took about 3 hours to cook down to the consistency that we wanted. We got 5 24oz jars! 😀

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Mom is obviously SUPER excited that she FINALLY has sauce from her garden tomatoes!

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Because I Need One More Notebook

Because I needed one more EC notebook….I got my second On-The-Go Notebook. This one, does not match my teacher planner or my first OTGNB. This one is personal.

My last notebook and goodies came wrapped up in pink. This time, I got a beautiful minty green! IMG_4164

And SURPRISE! A $10 off coupon! Seriously, I love EC and her little surprises SO MUCH!

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I purchased this notebook while EC was still sending a free On-The-Go 18 month calendar, so I got another one of them! I ordered a set of just the platinum head/book bands. I only wear them in my hair. They are AWESOME! I get compliments on them all of the time. As you can see, I got the British flag with this cover. Let’s all be surprised, the girl who is an English Lit concentration and LOVES English history got that particular cover. HAHA. To see what the notebook and calendar look like inside, check out my previous post The Notebook Has Arrived!

As with just about everything you order from EC, I got another set of stickers. 3 of them are repeats, but 3 of them specifically match my notebook!! I LOVE THEM! I have a whole collection of personalized stickers and I can’t wait to use them all of the time!

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Check out my other EC goodies at “The Package” and “New EC Notebook!

If you would like your own Erin Condren goodies AND a $10 off coupon on your purchase, click the link below! After signing up with the link, you will receive a $10 coupon code in a welcome email! 🙂

EC $10 Coupon

Room Re-Do

After getting back from Northern Ireland single, I had a large task ahead of me- doing something with all of my books that had previously had their own entire room.

My dad, in his infinite wisdom drew up a plan. With his help and the help of my mom, we did a mini room update and gave my books a new home. My mug collection finally found a new home that wasn’t my moms cup cupboard taking over as well. She was quite thrilled with that part.

It began with paint. The previous home owners painted my particular room a tan-ish color instead of just a white or off white. This limited my color options a wee bit because I was NOT going to paint all four walls. After about an hour looking at colors at the hardware store, I found Valspar’s perfect brown “Nest.”

Ma and I first painted the whole wall! This took about a whole 20 minutes to do.

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Next, dad and I installed a shelving unit.

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And, the hardest part of this whole process was dealing with my books. They were all in boxes. I made signs breaking them up by genre- American Lit, English Lit, YA, Textbooks, etc…. After they were organized by genre I had to do author’s last name. Finally, after a few hours, they made it up onto the walls.

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My mug collection found homes at the end of the shelves where books haven’t quite taken over yet.

Throw Together Hash

Obviously school has started again. My posting has once again become sporadic. I’m hoping to change that now that I am in more of a routine. The other day I had no classes and spent the day running errands with dad. I had promised mom I would make dinner, and I couldn’t take that back. I had pulled out ground beef that morning with no idea what I was going to do with it. We had finally had some green peppers come in, so I plucked one of them. We had an onion in the fridge, some left over breakfast sausage and potatoes. So, in true Anna fashion, I threw it all together.

Ingredients:

1lb lean ground beef- you can substitute turkey, pork or any combination of ground meat really

Breakfast sausage links- optional, we had some left over from our big Sunday breakfast

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 rough chopped onion

1 small green pepper- I would have used a red and yellow as well if we had had them!

3-4 medium sized red potatoes

Herbs/Seasonings of your choice

Sour Cream/Cheese as optional toppings

1. In a large pan, brown the ground beef with Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper, basil, garlic powder, parsley on medium-high heat.

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2. While the beef is browning, chop your vegetables.

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3. Boil the potatoes until cooked through. They just won’t cook in the pan.

4. Throw in your chopped onion, pepper, and cut up breakfast sausage with the beef. Turn the stove down to medium-low, stir and cover. Check and stir every few minutes to keep from burning on the bottom.

5. After the potatoes are done cooking, strain and add to the pan. Mix in, and let them hang out with the rest of the hash for a few minutes to pick up the flavor.

Serve in a bowl with toppings like sour cream and cheese. This is obviously a super flexible dish. You could add lots of different veggies, eat it in a tortilla- what ever floats your boat. My dad was afraid of it, and then had 3 helpings. haha.

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