Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Baldino's Homemade Tomato Puree

It's time to start thinking about canning again. If your summer bounty includes tomatoes, I have the best canning recipe for you! This comes from my friend Lori, straight from Italy. It is so simple and tastes incredibly fresh when you open a jar six months later.

1. Wash your tomatoes very well.

2. Core the tomato and, with your hand, squeeze the excess water and seeds out of the tomato. Throw into a pot or bucket. (I throw the seeds and water into the compost pile.)

3. When you have a full pot, begin to cook the tomatoes until they come to a boil and the tomato has broken down. Remember to stir often so the tomato doesn't burn at the bottom of the pot.

4. Place a flour sack cloth (not a cheese cloth!) in the colander. Put the colander over another large pot. (Note: I've found the flour sack cloth at Meijer as well as Bed, Bath, and Beyond. Linens and Things or even WalMart might have them too. It's worth looking for them. OR just click here: Kaf Home White Flour Sack Clothes 4)

5. Begin to put the boiled tomatoes into the lined colander so the liquid can drain out. You also have to help the liquid come out by gathering the sides of the cloth and twist and squeeze. Do this until most of the liquid, not all, is gone.

6. Remove the extracted tomatoes and continue with the next amount of tomatoes.

7. When you are finished extracting all the water from all tomatoes, you will begin to put them through a tomato pulp grinder. This will make the pulp come out one side and the seeds/peel out the other side.

8. You are now ready to can and process the puree. Make sure your jars are clean, sterile, and free of cracks.

9. Fill your jars with the puree. Make sure the rings of the jars are clean from any spilled sauce. After you are through with this process, you may begin to put sterilized lids and rings on them. (Optional: Place a fresh basil leaf or two in the bottom of the jar before filling with the puree.)

10. Now it's time to process. Fill your canning pot with your jars and completely cover with water. Put on the lid and bring to a boil. Process for 40 minutes.

That's it. I did two bushels of Roma (plum) tomatoes last year and will never can tomato sauce any other way again. This year I'm planning on four or five bushels as I ran out of the sauce just a few months into the year. To make spaghetti sauce, I just open a jar, warm the sauce (puree) on the stove with some fresh Italian herbs. It's absolutely delish! You'll never want Ragu again.

Lori makes this an annual event with her mother and siblings. They order a couple dozen bushels of organic plum tomatoes well in advance. Lori recommends putting on your old clothes and work outside.

UPDATE: Lori's recipe for Italian Spaghetti Sauce

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