Hopefully you read that in a sing-songy voice, loudly and very enthusiastically. If not, I’ll give you another try.
I’m very excited to have power again (not to mention that Fritz and I have also joined the world of grown adults by getting iPhones), and I thought what better way to welcome fall than by canning? I also had approximately 10 pounds of tomatoes that I had to use up, since several days without refrigeration were quickly reducing them to mush.
Yep. Ten pounds of tomatoes, thanks to my parent’s garden, my CSA box, and my very own tomato plants. This recipe makes six pints of lovely canned sauce for later, not to mention a few extra cups for immediate use.
Roasted Garlic and Pepper Tomato Sauce (adapted from Better Homes and Gardens’ magazine, Canning)
- 2 bulbs garlic
- 1 1/2 T olive oil
- 3-4 bell peppers (any color)
- 2 banana peppers
- 12 pounds ripe tomatoes (I used a mix of varieties)
- 3 T packed brown sugar
- 4 t salt
- 1 T balsamic vinegar
- 1 t ground black pepper
- 2 1/2 C lightly packed fresh basil, roughly diced
- 1/2 C other fresh herbs–I used thyme, lemon thyme, and parsley, minced
- 6 T lemon juice
This whole canning system moves quite rapidly, and is perfectly timed with the process of making tomato sauce–it’s like canning and tomatoes were made for each other. To can this sauce, you’ll need six pint-sized canning jars (with new lids), and a very large stock pot to sterilize and process the sauce in. Large tongs are also helpful, as are some extra dish cloths and pot holders.
Start off by preheating the oven to 400 degrees. Remove the papery outer skin from the garlic bulbs, leaving the cloves stuck together. Cut off about half an inch from the pointed end, exposing the individual cloves. Place cut-side up in a baking dish, then drizzle with 1/2 T olive oil and cover with foil. Halve and seed the peppers, then lay them cut-side down on a foil-lined baking sheet. Brush them with the remaining olive oil. Bake both the garlic and the peppers for about 45 minutes, until the pepper skin is blackened and the garlic is nice and soft.
Those 45 minutes are perfect for peeling the tomatoes.
Tomatoes are easily peeled when plunged into boiling water for a few minutes, then dunked in an icy water bath. The skin peels off quite nicely, and you’ll be left with a bowl of naked tomaters.
Roughly dice the naked tomatoes, and place them in a large pot (at least 8-10 quarts). Leave a few out, for a reason soon to be explained. Begin heating the sauce over medium heat.
By now the peppers and garlic should be ready. Let them cool until they are handlable (is that a word?). Peel the skin from the peppers, dice them, and set them aside for later. Grab the bulbs of garlic, and squeeze the bottom to remove all the cloves.
Process the garlic and the tomatoes that you set aside in a food processor until smooth, then add to the sauce. At this point, you can also add the brown sugar, salt, black pepper, and balsamic vinegar. Bring the sauce to a boil, and leave uncovered for about 50 minutes, stirring frequently.
Now would be a good time to do some dishes and get a giant pot of water to boil. You need to wash the jars with warm, soapy water, then stick them in the hot water to boil for at least 10 minutes. The lids can simmer (not boil!), in a separate saucepan.
Once the sauce has boiled for 50 minutes, add the diced peppers and continue to boil until the sauce has reached the desired consistency. And yes, it will smell heavenly. Add the herbs and stir to mix.
Lay out a dish towel and place the jars on it (the hot jars might crack if you place them directly on a cold counter). Keep your giant pot of water boiling! Add 1 T of lemon juice to each jar, then ladle sauce into each one. Leave 1/2 inch of headspace (literally, just 1/2 inch of space at the top of each jar), and wipe them clean. Place the lids on the jar, and gently screw the lids on until they feel tight–but don’t crank on ‘em. Just a nice, friendly closure.
Return the jars to the pot of boiling water for another 35 minutes. Start counting the 35 minutes only after the water has resumed boiling. Once the jars are finished processing, remove them from the water and place them back on the dish towel to cool.
You should hear each lid pop as the jar seals, and when you press on the lid it should not spring back. If it does, your jar didn’t seal, and you can either eat that sauce within the week or start again with the whole processing dealio.
But all mine sealed right away! Yippee! Now I have a year until I have to eat this sauce–but I doubt it’ll take that long.
This sauce is rich and flavorful, with no overwhelming garlic taste (just a smoky hint) and a bit of a kick from the banana pepper. It’s also a bit sweet and totally herby from the basil.
To sum it up, it’s the perfect sauce.
Seriously. This recipe was a winner. I can’t wait to use it on pasta (actually, we ate it for dinner) and pizza and lasagna and to eat an entire jar with a spoon while standing at the counter, staring at the two giant stock pots I have to wash.
Oh, and here’s how we spent the last five days cooking:
Coleman stove all the way. It was like camping. Unplanned camping. That lasted waaay too long. And ended with us throwing out all the food in the fridge.
We took advantage of the empty fridge to thoroughly clean it out.
What a beauty, eh?