Making Marinara

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Well, I’ve spent the afternoon making marinara sauce with whats left of the huge batch of tomatoes I bought the other day. Some of the tomatoes have gotten a little tender in spots, but I’ve only had to throw away two of them because of mold, and I’ve nearly used up the last of them all. I’m not making a full blown tomato sauce with them, but just processing them so that they’ll be more versatile down the road. What I’m making could be turned into tomato sauce later on, but it can also be used for a lot of other things, too. No salt yet, either. I can add that when I’m ready to cook again with them. This is one of the more foolproof canning projects, since tomatoes are so high in acid. This recipe makes about 5 pints, or 2 quarts of marinara.

So here’s a rundown of the ingredients for each batch :

6 lbs. tomatoes, peeled, and diced
1 large sweet onion
1 small pinch red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic, chopped
¼ cup water
bunch fresh basil leaves
¼ cup red wine vinegar (optional)

  • Bring a big pot of water to the boil. Cut an X in the bottom of each tomato, and dunk it in the boiling water for 30-60 seconds. Remove and immediately plunge into cold water. The skins should peel right off.
  • Core and chop the tomatoes. (Optionally, you can also remove the seeds and the seed membrane before chopping them.)
  • In a heavy bottomed pot, heat up a couple tablespoons of olive oil, and add the chopped onion, and allow it to sweat, about 10 mins. Then add the pinch of red pepper flakes and garlic. Stir in the tomatoes, the water, and the vinegar. Cover, and let it come to a good boil, about 5 minutes.
  • Remove the cover, stir, and lower the heat, and allow it to gently boil for 45 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • 5 or 10 minutes before it’s done, stir in the basil leaves, and some more chopped garlic, if desired.

This is a good starting point for your own homemade tomato sauce, but if you’re making multiple batches, like I am, follow the standard canning method — sterilized jars, lids, and tools. If you’ve been reading this blog all summer, I’m sure you know the drill by now. If you want to make a smoother sauce, you could run it through a food mill. In any case, fill the jars leaving a little head room. Put on the lids, then process the sealed jars in a hot water bath that covers the lids by at least 1 inch, and boil for 35 minutes for pint jars, 45 minutes for quart jars. Store in a cool, dark place, and use within a year.  Be sure and examine anything you’ve canned for any signs of deterioration, or spoilage, and discard it if you find any. More canning info can be found at