Friday, August 1, 2014

Tomatoes Mean Spaghetti Sauce

Confession:  Our tomatoes are just so-so this year.   So I went to a local place [Reeves Greenhouses, just north of Worthington, In] and got 100 lbs of canning tomatoes.    They were nice ones, too!    I got the boxes of small ones because frankly, I don't care what size they are and I figured those would be the hardest for them to get rid of, so I was happy to take them off their hands.    I paid $10 for 25 lb box, which I thought was a good deal given that I didn't have to grow them or pick them.   I canned 3 boxes and each box netted 14 quarts of plain canned tomatoes.   The final box I saved back to make sauces with.    This year we're making regular spaghetti sauce and Tomato Jam, Claire's favorite ketchup of all time. [Links below].

As it looks like a good year for tomatoes in general, I always advise to get as much as you can afford, can them quickly and easily and then decide what to do with them later.   Plain canned tomatoes are one of the most versatile and healthy things we can store.   And they taste way better than what you get at the store.

I am a lazy tomato canner.   I core them and cut them into big hunks and squash them into jars.   No peeling.   Then I follow the directions from the Ball Blue Book [link in the book list on the sidebar] for canning fresh pack quarts. [1 tsp salt, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, fill with hot water, process 45 minutes in boiling water bath.]  Easy squeezy.

Here are some things I do with my beautiful jars of tomatoes:
  • Enchilada Sauce
  • Tomato Jam [It's glorified ketchup, but the best darn ketchup you've ever had.]
  • Minestrone or a variation thereof.
  • Tomasqua [great for a glut of summer squash along with the tomatoes]
  • Spaghetti Sauce [below.]

Robin's Spaghetti Sauce
  • garlic
  • onions
  • olive oil
  • butter
  • canned tomatoes
  • salt
  • dried basil, oregano, thyme and parsley.

Here's my approach to spaghetti sauce.  It's not really a recipe, but more of a process.  I don't measure.  It's always fantastic. It's always easy.   In fact, Claire has taken over making this sauce and hers is even better.   [She won't tell me her secret.]

1.  Slice up some onions and garlic and saute them in olive oil and butter until transparent.
2.  Open a couple of jars of tomatoes or tomasqua and dump it in with the onions.
3.  Cook it down, down, down until it's the consistency you want. 
4.  Add dried oregano [plenty], salt [to taste], basil [plenty], thyme [generous pinch], and parsley [generous pinch].  Stir it well.
5.   Grind it all up in the blender to pulverize the skins and vegetable chunks.   My crew prefers smooth sauce.

For canning:  put into clean jars and cover with clean lids and rings.  Process according to instructions in the Ball Blue Book [link in the book list on the sidebar] or another reputable canning instruction source.

If you want to make a meat sauce, then cook up some ground beef or sausage until it's crumbly and crispy, then add it to the sauce.    [Note:  I do not can meat sauce.]  


  1. I had a friend who lost all his green beans during the drought year we had and so they went and bought cases of green beans to can. I wasn't sure what I thought of that. But now you've inspired me. I still have a few jars of tomatoes/peppers mix I canned, but I would like to make some sauces and if you come back here to read this, can you tell me if it's possible to make paste? My pizza sauce consists of one can of tomato paste and half a can or so of water, and spices. It's the perfect consistency and flavor.

  2. Yes, you can make paste. If it were me, I'd chop up the tomatoes and cook them down a lot, then blend it up to make it smooth [or you can peel them to begin with], then cook it down some more. Watch it carefully in the final cook because it will stick and burn as it loses so much liquid. Since you add water to your sauce anyway, just cook it down to the consistency you want for your pizza sauce. And remember that it'll be thicker when it cools.


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