What does one do on hiatus? Aside from working an additional 20 hours a week, she channels her old Italian woman roots and then takes pictures of it. In other words, I made homemade marinara sauce. I don’t know when it came about, but for as far back as I can remember I have wanted to make my own marinara. I just knew it was going to become my new favorite harvest season tradition. And I would one day share this time honored traditional with my imaginary Italian grandchildren. They in return, would scoff at the idea tomato sauce not coming from a jar- until their very wise and skillful G-ma showed them the way! But before I get lost in this pretend world, the one where I have Italian heritage, let me show how it’s done.
***Also, I have to apologize in advance, there are some serious formatting issues within this post. I think I bogged it down with pictures and it got messy as a result. ***
It started with an impulse buy of 35 globe tomatoes from the farmers market. Which were all cored as seen above.
And boiled for 1-2 minutes until the skin began to rip and loosen. To avoid further cooking, these freshly boiled bundles of love were transfered to a bath of icey cold water. This helped with the skin removal as well.
TIP 1: Take pictures, you might not want to do this again.
TIP 2: Have extra bowls at your disposal.
The skins were removed and placed in a strainer. And then squeezed. There’s a lot of good stuff in those skins, so don’t ignore them.
The tomatoes were left looking veiny and naked and ready for some TLC.
Then came the seeding, which started with a knife but was quickly replaced by fingers. The end result was a bowl of mushy tomato parts (12 cups).
NOTE: You won’t get every seed, so don’t even try!
TIP 3: Wear plastic gloves for this part, or your hands will soon look like tomatoes.
Onto the chopping block came (and went) the largest onion known to man.
Which was tossed in a stock pot with oil and garlic and sauted until translucent.
Then came the spices and more sauteing action.
Followed by wine.
TIP 4: This is a nice way to get rid of mediocre wine.
And then entered in all of those tomatoes I just labored over.
Let it cook down for 2.5 hours or so at a simmer. Until everything that was once solid turns liquid. And Viola! You got marinara sauce!
TIP 5: Watch the temp as it cooks down, what starts out as simmering will turn to a boil.
Note: It came out much darker than I had anticipated. Color will vary based on the volume of wine, type of tomato, and other additional ingredients.
Let it cool to room temperature (if you aren’t going to be eating it right away) and place in greased cupcake trays and freeze. An individual cupcake is the perfect single serving size for a quick meal fix.
Once frozen, remove from trays and return to freezer in a 2 gallon zip-lock bag.
My final notes:
1. Gardening your tomatoes will make a difference. Having to pay for 35 locally grown, pesticide free tomatoes really makes you wonder if it’s worth it before the project even starts.
2. Plan on making a day of it. This is a time consuming project (about 5 hours) so if you think you are going to whip it out after a full day of work, you are in for a long night.
3. If you like the result, and enjoyed the process, make more at once. You’ve already splattered your entire floor in tomatoey red polka dots, so go all out!
4. I did enjoy the process, it was therapeutic and educational. And given a wealth of time and my own tomato garden, I would be happy to repeat it all. But as it is, I don’t have either of those things. Which is why I don’t have a problem leaving the already streamlined tomato sauce making process up the professionals at Hunts. I’ll start there next time with my marinara recipes.
5. I’m not actually Italian.
2 MEDIUM YELLOW OR WHITE ONIONS, PEELED AND DICED (ABOUT 2.5 CUPS)
2 OR MORE TBSP OLIVE OIL (AS NEEDED)
5-6 CLOVES OF GARLIC, MINCED (ABOUT 2 TBSP)
2 TBSP DRIED HERBS (BASIL, OREGANO, ROSEMARY, THYME, ETC) MIXED, TOTAL
3/4 CUP RED WINE
12 CUPS PEELED AND SEEDED FRESH RIPE TOMATOES
SALT AND PEPPER TO TASTE