Freezer Tomato Sauce

These last few months our family has been trying to eat less processed foods. We have never been the family that ate frozen lasagna or chicken nuggets, but I would use a can of cream of chicken soup, or taco seasoning mix, tomato sauce and canned beans to make dinner preparation easier. But it always bugged me. So the last couple months I decided we were cutting out all cans and seasoning mixes. Beans, tomatoes, chili, spaghetti and taco seasonings were now going to be homemade. This transition has been easier than I expected....making my own beans has been so much more economical and healthy, and I have found some great recipes for homemade seasoning mixes and cream sauces. Canned tomato sauce was going to be more tricky, though. I have never canned before and when I started doing research online, it really intimidated me. (I know some of you can things all the time, but when you don't have any of the equipment and have never done it before, it can seem scary.) So since we had a freezer in the garage that was half empty, I decided to make freezer tomato sauce.

First thing you need is garlic. I peeled about 6 cloves and coarsely chopped them.




Then the tomatoes. I found a farm near us that was selling ripe tomatoes for 50 cents a pound; I started out with 10 pounds. These were Pink Girl tomatoes.





Cut the core out on the top and then get a pot of boiling water going on the stove with a bowl of cold water next to it.





Put each tomato into the boiling water for about a minute, and then into the cold water bath.





When the tomato is cool enough, peel using your fingers.





Keep peeling the tomatoes in batches until they are all peeled.



Beautiful.

Next coarsely chop. I decided to use the seeds and all.




In a large pot over medium heat, put 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil and after it has warmed, the garlic.



 Let me tell you, this is one of the best smells on earth.


After they have sauteed for a couple minutes, add the chopped tomatoes.


Every pot of good tomato sauce needs some good wine in it, and they say never to use wine in cooking that you won't drink, so of course I needed to test it....


Pour in a half a cup of some good wine. This was a Merlot.




 Add salt and pepper to taste.




Bring it slowly to a simmer, then turn down and let cook for 30-40 minutes.

This really brings out the juiciness.


At this point I removed it from the heat and let it sit on the back burner with the lid on. I think it was a couple hours until I got back to it.....you know, homeschooling, housework, owies.....those kind of wonderful and fulfilling distractions. I actually think that having it sit for a while let the flavors really marry well.

The next step was to blend it in batches in my blender. I'm not sure why, but I didn't get any blender action shots.

This is what I poured out of the blender:




The next step was to pour into freezer bags. I put the Ziploc bag into a measuring cup to hold it steady.




I put about 2 1/2 cups into each bag...out of this batch I got 6 bags.



After this batch, I wanted to test the sauce to see if it met our expectations. I used a homemade spaghetti sauce recipe and my freezer sauce and it turned out really good. The flavor of the tomatoes was so much better than the one from the can! I also put some of the tomato sauce into a saucepan, added basil, oregano and thyme and used it as pizza sauce for our weekly Friday night pizza. So the next time I went to the farm I picked up another 20 pounds and processed them over a couple days.

This time I froze a batch in ice cube trays.....that way I can use them in my Spanish Rice recipe or toss a few into a pot of soup if it needs a little tomato flavor.




I love the convenience of having them on hand this way....


I could have omitted the blender step and had frozen chopped tomatoes, or even drained the juice from the simmered pot to make more of a tomato paste....I did find that my sauce was not as thick as the commercial tomato sauce, but that can be easily fixed with a little recipe tweaking. Enjoy!



Freezer Tomato Sauce

Ingredients:

10 pounds tomatoes
4-6 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup red wine (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Core tops of tomatoes. Immerse into boiling water for 1 minute; then immediately into an ice water bath.  When cool, peel off skin with fingers. Repeat until all tomatoes are peeled. Chop tomatoes. Heat oil in large pan over medium heat. Add garlic; sauteing 2 minutes. Add chopped tomatoes, salt and pepper and wine if desired. Bring to a simmer and then lower heat, keeping tomatoes at a low simmer. Let cook for 30-40 minutes. When mixture has cooled, place 3 cups at a time into blender and blend. For a chunkier sauce, blend at low speed and only for a few seconds; for a smoother sauce blend at medium speed for 10-15 seconds. Divide sauce into freezer bags or ice cube trays and store in the freezer.

Comments

  1. I am *so* impressed, Charlotte! If you ever want to try canning, you are welcome to borrow my equipment...

    --Nancy

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  2. this is awesome, Charlotte! I've been making my own soup mixes and beans, but I haven't tried tomatoes yet. Thanks for posting this with pictures and recipe! I think the kids and I will give this a try next week.

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  3. Thanks, you guys! I was not sure how it would turn out and am so glad I have found a substitute for canned tomatoes. (At least until I run out of my own sauce!)

    And someday I might take you up on that, Nancy....

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  4. Hey! Good timing! ;) I will have to give this a try. Thanks for sharing.

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  5. That's what I thought too, Krista! Great minds think alike... :-)

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  6. Hey Charlotte, I just did this with an enormous bunch of tomatoes from my garden... but I never thought to blend it before freezing it! Hmm, next year. :) Mine's delicious, just chunky. Having it a little smoother might be nice. Thanks for that idea!

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  7. Melissa, I am glad to hear you also freeze your tomatoes. Most people I know that do preserving can them. Someday, I will attempt that... :-)

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  8. Good job Charlotte!! I really need to do this - sounds wonderful! I am totally paranoid about canning also! :)

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