Saturday, October 27, 2012

Fresh Spaghetti Sauce

I've been home canning my own spaghetti sauce for years.  I love gathering the last of the tomatoes in the fall and filling up my jars that line my pantry throughout the winter until next year.  The first sauce I used to make was from a dry mix, and although I loved it, it wasn't my husband's favorite. So, the last few summers I've been trying different recipes, searching for "the one." 

The last couple years I made this Tomato-Basil Simmer Sauce which I actually do love, but I also wanted a sauce that was more substantial, something that would stick to the noodles without running off.

 This, my friends, is "THE ONE," the very sauce I will can for the rest of my existence! Ok, well maybe not that long, but I think my search is over. This recipe uses fresh, vine-ripened tomatoes, but also uses just a little canned tomato sauce and paste which allow the sauce to thicken without cooking it to death, thus preserving that fresh tomato taste (and not keeping you in the kitchen all day).

I love the sweet bell peppers in this sauce.  I chose to use only about half green pepper and the rest red.  I find the green ones have a more bitter taste, but any other colored ones (yellow, red or orange) work perfectly. I think next time I will replace all of the green pepper with a different color.

This recipe makes roughly 12 cups, 6 pints.  If you're not a canner, you can also freeze the sauce in 2-4 cup portions in zip-loc freezer bags or freezer safe plastic ware. You could also just half the recipe for short-term use.

Fresh Spaghetti Sauce
makes about 6 pints
8 cups vine-ripened tomatoes (best from the garden), peeled and chopped (about 10-12 large)*
2 cups onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups sweet bell pepper, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. dried oregano
2 Tbsp. canning salt (if you don't have canning salt, just salt to taste)
2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. fennel seed
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup apple cider vinegar
16 oz. tomato sauce
12 oz. tomato paste
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped

Blanch and peel tomatoes.  Pulse in blender until desired "chunkiness" and set aside.  Drizzle a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a large stock pot and add chopped onions and peppers.  Saute over medium high heat about 5 minutes.  Add tomatoes, garlic and the next 8 ingredients.  Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in fresh basil.

To can sauce you must use a boiling water bath canner.  Pour hot sauce into hot jars.  Wipe mouth of each jar clean and place a lid and ring on each jar, only screwing lid to finger tightness. Process pint jars 15 minutes.

*To blanch and peel tomatoes, bring a pot of water to a boil and fill the sink with cold water.  Using a knife, serrated works best for me, score the tomato by making an "x." Place as many tomatoes in the pot as will cover the bottom in ONE layer.  Boil for 60 seconds, then ladle them out and immediately put them in the sink filled with cold water. Continue with the rest of the tomatoes.  

You will notice the skins already starting to peel off where they have been scored.  Slip off the skins, they come off easily, and core them and place them in a blender or food processor to chop or puree, whichever you prefer.

Make sure you do enough tomatoes to equal 8 cups, chopped.

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