The traditional way of canning tomato sauce wastes time, fruit, and money. So when I was trying to can tomato sauce without running water, (not on purpose), I racked my brain for a better way. I’d changed to the whole fruit method I’d come up with two years before thinking we ate the whole tomato anyway but that wasn’t going to work with ketchup and enchilada sauce, two things I wish to master this winter. Surely I could take from the traditional method and the whole method and create a better way.
Lets say the motivation was high. I was frustrated trying to can, especially when I did not have water, and help my husband as he worked to fix the main water line leak that had made its way to the surface revealing the source of an immense lack of water. He was suppose to be replacing the windows on the south side of the house, which are a few of the many trying to work their way off and reside while he was at it. While removing the siding, he discovered a six inch hole in the side of the house going nowhere. The source of the cold draft in the kitchen. Then as he was completing that task, I discovered three holes in the copper pipes in the garage bathroom. I was putting potatoes in the crawl space under the house and discovered a large wet area. Let’s just say, frustration can lead to great teaching moments or cuss word, which ever you are inclined to. Not prone to the latter, we chose to focus on change lest we cry. I was relying on, “Necessity (being) the mother of invention” and in a eureka moment, I had a third way to try making tomato sauce. I guess the Lord loves a determined soul.
Which would you choose?
- Traditional Simplified
- Whole Fruit
Tradition is the way you might have seen your mother and grandmother do it. Some things have changed since then like modern tomatoes varieties have to be pressure canned because of a lack of acid. Luckily, my are old fashioned so I still hot water bath which saves time. I don’t boil my jars and instead use the dishwasher since it has been tested to be sufficient. But pretty much all else is the same. You heat your tomatoes in hot water on the stove until the skins crack. Then you put them into cold water to cool them and slip off the skins as soon as they are cool enough to touch. In the hot water in which they cooked, some of the flavorful liquid of the tomatoes leaks out. Then again in the cool water in which they sit before slipping the skin off. That always bothered me. In the next step, some use a Victoria Strainer and some of us use a China Cap. I place my skinless tomatoes in the China Cap where the pulp goes out the perforated holes and the skins and larger particles remain inside. You then take the tomato sauce, which is thin, and put it into a sauce pan and cook slowly on the stove to dehydrate much of the water off. I prefer using a crock pot as I’m less likely to burn my sauce and I don’t have to attend it so much. The problem with this method for me is the time, waste, and loss of flavor. Oh yeah, and the handling of scalding tomatoes.
The Traditional Simplified method is what happened during the water shortage, and construction project as I was doing the whole method. I needed creamy, thick sauce, but far less waste for ketchup and enchilada sauce. Little waste was felt more intensely as our Colorado fruit order was canceled due to shortage. They had a bad storm. This meant my four boxes of tomatoes weren’t coming. I needed to make it with what I had produced in the garden. The garden which I lost a third of my plants to the severe, historical level drought we’ve been in. Couple with severe water rations due to the leaks. I was just praying to keep most of the perennials alive. I will loose some. Yet with with 14 plants that survived, I had a huge crop of small tomatoes. It was more accidental than planned but I’ll definitely be doing much of the same thing next year. I wracked my brain with the rules, the methods I’d used, and how to tweak them to get more with small tomatoes on only 14 plants. The Traditional method with small tomatoes would demand I heat and skin them all. I’d loose my mind before the first batch was done. Consider the amount of skin and seeds and I’d have pretty much nothing. What I came up with, I can’t say I’m the first as I’m sure someone else thought this out too but I’ll never return to the Tradition method. I will do some with the Whole method but I’m not sure how much.
The Whole Fruit method came about because of the nagging feeling of the loss of too much of the tomato in the Traditional method. I switched to using the whole fruit. It works wonderful as it does not matter what size of tomatoes you have, including cherry tomatoes. I place the whole tomato in the blender. Then I cook this down to about half its original size to thicken into a sauce. It is not creamy but my family does not mind it on pizza, in spaghetti, and even in chili. It has a couple draw backs. The seeds are in this sauce and for the members of my family who have diverticulitis; it is a no go and will make them sick. When you are doing pizza, the sauce has a small amount of liquid that seeps out. And particularly for this year, this chunky method, is not what I want for ketchup and enchilada sauce but maybe that’s just because of what I’m use to. In time this might be questioned.
But wait, what’s the Whole method? I place the whole tomato minus the stem of course, into the blender and run until fairly smooth. This I place in in sauce pans and crock pots heating it to drop the volume by half. Then I put the pulp in a China Cone and watched the pulp push out through the perforated holes and the skins stayed inside as I run the stick pressing the tomatoes up against the insides of the cone. No hot tomatoes to handle individually. I just ladle the hot sauce into the cone. No loss of tomato liquid,(which is flavor) in the hot water, nor liquid lost in the cold either. Which gives me a more intense flavor. But what shocked me most was the lack of waste. The skins were thin and dry, peeling off the sides in a curl. The tiny amount of fluid that built up on the bottom of the bucket of skins as I processed a very large batch was shocking to what I was use to. The skins and seeds were what I take to the chickens. The sauce was too thin to use except in enchilada sauce, or juice, but I simply put this back into the rinsed containers in which it came from and cooked it further down until the desired thickness.
I have plenty of tomato sauce made from my own garden for the first time in my married life and we had a hard frost twice in the first week of September. I picked the above cherry sized tomatoes whether green or red and pace them into plastic containers in the garage, picking out the ripe to be processed every few days. We feed two to four grandkids part of the week and children now and then too so with 14 tomato plants producing small tomatoes, I’d say it was a huge success.
They say you should plan a garden for the hard years. It’s when you need it most. I’d say this was the toughest summer of gardening we’ve had but the most educational too. When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” was what I’d tell myself growing up and my dad would tell me, “If you can’t keep up, you can’t come.” Now days I may no longer push to keep up because of the physical damage done in doing so with my Autism, but I’m coming. The slower pace allows me to observe more, think longer on a problem, and make more impactful changes. In the end, I believe it saves time and money in fewer do overs.
Tell me what you think of my three methods of making tomato sauce. Which one is right for you?