Sunday, July 04, 2010

Making and canning pizza sauce (and the dress I was making)

I made pizza sauce the other day. It was fairly easy and I canned it, and used the bit left over to make pizza that night. Unfortunately, I can only give general amounts of the ingredients I used, as my tendency is to toss stuff in, taste, mix in something else, taste again.

I had tomatoes left over after making salsa (which turned out very yummy). I think it was about 3 or 4 lbs. I am a lazy cook, so I chopped the tomatoes coarsely, only saving some seed to plant later (planning for a bunch of fall tomatoes -- the joy of living in the south!)

I chopped up two onions, medium sized, and 4 Anaheim peppers. I added the seeds of 2 of the Anaheim peppers, since we like it spicy. I chopped up 5 or 6 garlic cloves and added all of it to my large stock pot.

I get lots of compost when canning... so far at least. I'm also saving harvesting seeds to plant for more tomato plants.

I cooked the mixture, and stirred occassionally, for 2 1/2 hours at a med-lo heat. Well, I brought it to a boil, then reduced the heat to let it simmer gently for a total of 2 1/2 hours. I tried to moosh up the veggies as it cooked and they softened.

At the end of the 2 1/2 hours, scoop by scoop, I put the veggies and juice through the food processor and then through the strainer. Now, this is a special strainer. Its the strainer that the nice man gave me when he gave me all the canning supplies. It was a sad story, but I was happy for all the free stuff. Here's the strainer:

If you know the name of this strainer, please let me know; its one of the most interesting pieces of kitchen equipment I've seen. I poured the pureed sauce in it, turned the wooden stick around and around as the sauce seeped out the holes into the waiting bowl. It was a very nice tomato sauce, though a bit thin, so I put it back in the pot and simmered it for a few more hours (2 or so). When it was almost thick enough, I asked Hubby to try a bit and see if he liked it. He asked for more garlic, so I added some garlic powder and a tbsp of tarragon, thyme and rosemary. (random herbs, yes, its what I have around and it produces a nice flavor). Then, I ladled it into pint jars, leaving 1/2" head space, added lids and rings and put them in a boiling water bath for 25 minutes. I came up with 25 minutes based on the Ball Blue Book on canning instructions for canning tomato sauce. I got about 3 pints of sauce, and about 1 cup left over.

I added a can of tomato paste and a tbsp or two of water to the one cup of sauce and made pizza. It was pretty good. I think I'll plan to get 2 pizzas out each pint, but using half of this sauce and a can of tomato paste. Thicker is nicer when it comes to pizza, I think, I know Hubby likes it that way. (The white-ish specks are the garlic powder granules.)

Next time, I'll use 3 times as many tomatoes; I'll fill the 8 quart stock pot with tomatoes. I'll use 4 onions (maybe 5), and 8 or 9 good sized peppers -- perhaps a 1:3 ratio of spicy:sweet (that would be... calculating... 2 spicy peppers and 6 sweet peppers. A whole bulb of garlic for sure will be used. I think I'll use the food processor to blend the onions, peppers and garlic together before adding it to the tomatoes (easier than chopping, and fewer tears). I will try to be more patient when reducing the pureed and strained sauce to get it thicker.

Anyhoo, I hope to have a much, much larger harvest of tomatoes this fall. Hopefully, I'll have used these 3 pints (won't be hard), and will have a better idea of what I like and don't like in the flavor.

I also finally finished the summer dress I was working on. Putting in button holes and sewing on buttons was the hardest part, but its done. I did make the button holes too small, and had to cut them bigger. Oh, well, I don't need to unbutton it to get it on or off, so I could just stitch the seem closed if needed.
See those tan lines??? I worked hard for those! Those are swimming lesson lines, hard earned in the hot Texas sun. Don't worry, I've been wearing long sleeves and long pants in the garden, trying not to get too much darker.

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