I’m not a foodie. I enjoy food, but I have an unrefined palate. Even so, I do appreciate home-cooked meals. One of my favorite things is making eating homemade pasta sauce. Back in the old days, I’d make it with a can of tomato paste and two cans of tomato sauce. It’s nice, because you can make it come out exactly how you want. The spices meet your mood for that meal.
Then I started going to the Farmers’ Market. As you’d expect, the fresh vegetables are way better. So it was only a matter of time until I started making my sauce from scratch. What I’m sharing here is not a recipe, because I don’t use one. Consider this post a set of guidelines.
The first thing to know is that it takes a great deal of tomatoes. Tomatoes have a high water content, and generally pasta sauce doesn’t. From about 10 pounds of tomatoes, I was able to get about 5 1/2 pints of sauce. Fortunately, tomatoes freeze well, so you can collect them all summer and make a big batch at the end of the year (assuming you have enough space in your freezer). If freezing tomatoes, be sure to give them a chance to thaw a bit so that you don’t freeze your hands off.
The next helpful bit of information: this is a messy process. Whether the tomatoes are fresh or frozen, you will get a lot of liquid all over the counter, and the floor, and your shirt, and so on. One thing that helped when working with previously-frozen tomatoes was to squeeze them out a bit over the sink (just try not to lose any of the flesh). I found a blender is an excellent way to get the tomatoes all chopped up in a quick manner. If your particular blender makes it easy to strain away some of the water, so much the better.
Once the tomato goop goes into the pot, it’s time to boil. Depending on how much liquid you were able to strain off, this step could take a long, long while. Fortunately, this gives you time to chop up whatever you want to add. Peppers, garlic, mushrooms, whatever. Now’s the time. Once that’s done, I add my spices. What and how much I add is dependent on my mood, but brown sugar is an under-appreciated additive (and yes, I know it’s not a spice).
Finally, after what feels like forever, the kitchen is miserably warm and the sauce has finally reached a sauce-like consistency. If you’ve been tasting as you go, that’s the end of the line. If you haven’t you may have some desperate flavor balancing to do (and also you’re probably not human). Once you’re satisfied with the result, you can eat it right away or save it for later. Mason jars are your friend in this case. The sauce freezes well, or if you have a pressure canner, you can can it to save space in your freezer.