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Jessica’s Garden: Better Late Than Never

tomato-bountyThe tomato season started off fairly disappointing for us this season. I had prepared myself for a let-down. I feared we’d only have enough to keep us going through eating them fresh. However, although our plants are beginning to show signs of their demise, they are abundantly producing late in the season.  While this year has paled in comparison to quantity and overall fruit quality from our crop last year, we have been able to can many quarts of tomatoes for winter consumption.

My best friend and I can a lot together. And we can a lot separately too, trying out new recipes to surprise each other with as Christmas gifts. But every year for many years, we have made a point of combining forces and resources to spend a day cooking down and canning our tried and true pasta sauce, a recipe we ran into online many years ago. This year, we made our largest yield yet in one day. After processing and canning what we estimated to be close to one hundred pounds of tomatoes, we produced seventeen quarts of well earned sauce.

Any tomato can be used for canning sauces and such, though paste or Roma tomatoes are preferred. However, I tend to can it all in order to eliminate food waste and to preserve our over-abundance. When using regular table tomatoes in canning sauce, significantly more time is required to boil the sauce down to its desired consistency than would be required for using less watery paste varieties.  It’s a great recipe for a rainy day as it’s admittedly not a quick recipe, consuming many hours of the day to prep and cook. Keep in mind, the more batches you make, the longer the cook time. However, that said, it’s simple and low impact. You don’t have to stand over it all day; just check periodically on its progress. It’s hearty and rich and it makes the best lasagna with ground sausage. You can plan on a yield of about 2-3 quarts of sauce per batch. We find it to be economical to make. While there are many ingredients, the spices are fairly nominal in price, the peppers also come from the garden and we tend to have to really only purchase the onions and tomato paste, both of which can readily be found on sale.


canned-tomatoesCanned Tomato Sauce

2 Tbsp Dried Parsley
1 1/2 Tbsp Salt
1 Tbsp Dried Oregano
2 Bay Leaves
1/2 tsp Pepper
2 tsp Ground Allspice
1/2 tsp Garlic Salt
2 Cup Chopped Onion
1 Cup Chopped Green Pepper
9 Cups Peeled Tomatoes
24 Oz Tomato Paste
2 Tbsp Vinegar (I use Apple Cider Vinegar)
2 Tbsp Brown Sugar

Combine all ingredients in a large stock pot and cook down to desired consistency. Ladle into sterilized mason jars, wipe rims of jars with clean damp cloth.  Screw on lids and bands. Process in hot water bath 20 minutes (for pint jars), 30 minutes (for quart jars).

Tips: If you have a food processor, you can eliminate some prep time by roughly chopping peppers and onions in the processor. Prep tomatoes first and get them cooking while you prep other ingredients, as they take the longest to cook down.


Posted By: Jessica J. Crawford Behnkes Garden Blogger

Stephanie Fleming was raised at Behnke’s Nurseries in Beltsville. Her Mom, Sonja, was one of Albert & Rose Behnke’s four children. She was weeding from the moment she could walk and hiding as soon as she was old enough to run, so many weeds, so little time. Although she quickly learned how to pull out a perennial and get taken off of weed pulling duty.

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