Tomato Canning, Day 2 – spaghetti sauce

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After turning 100 lbs of yellow tomatoes into 31 quarts of crushed tomatoes the first day of canning, it was time for some spaghetti sauce.  Since I still had 100 lbs of yellow tomatoes that were great for sauces, I decided to use them before the red tomatoes.  I had never made spaghetti sauce with yellow tomatoes before, so I made sure with the family before doing so.  It was met with no resistance, which surprised me.

DSCN8403I have found the above set up to be optimal for me, in the house and kitchen I currently have.  Our dinning room and kitchen are not one big room, the counters in the kitchen have limited handover space and we have no island there to use.  This makes the dinning room table perfect.  It also allows kids to feel a part of the canning process and I can see them in two of the main rooms.  I can also hear them throughout the first floor, which means they are not able to get into (as much) trouble.

The kids are even able to “help” by adding tomatoes into the funnel that feeds the food mill.  They love to see them go in, disappear, and come out the strainer to slide down into the dish.  They can also “help” by pushing down the skins and seeds that come out the end.DSCN8404

I tried to get a picture of how thick the results from these tomatoes.  Turns out to have been harder than I thought, though I’ll try to explain.  The first year I made spaghetti sauce I used whatever tomatoes I could find.  I had heard that there were different tomatoes for different end results – juice, sauce, etc.  The difference just wasn’t appreciated until I had to cook down the tomato sauce.  It took forever.  It also turns out that my food mill is tougher to use when the tomatoes are too juicy.  There just isn’t the material to push it all through.  It was so bad I actually thought about never, ever trying it again.

The second year I used more appropriate tomatoes with a much happier result.  Why did I try it again?  I figured if others had been doing this for generations, surely I could figure it out.  Whereas the first year the juice ran down like water, the second year it came out like apple sauce.  That is the texture you are looking for.

This year I tried a few more steps to reduce the amount of liquid I had to cook off.  After cutting the tomatoes into quarters, or halve, I squeezed out the juice and seeds.  Then after putting the tomatoes through the food mill, I strained the sauce through a fine mesh sieve.  The liquid was saved and canned.  The strained material was cooked down more to make spaghetti sauce.  This reduced my cooking time from about 3 hours to 1 hour.

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The above was only one of two canner load of sauce made that day.  So about 100 lbs of tomatoes resulted in 12 jars of sauce.  Every year there come a point when making sauce that I begin to question exactly why I am doing this.

“Isn’t is easier and cheaper just to wait for a sale and get spaghetti for $1 per jar?  I could even buy ‘organic’ sauce for cheaper than this.  I just want to go to bed ….”

Then I remember.

  • I can name all the ingredients that went into these jars.
  • I can tell you where they came from.
  • I really do enjoy doing this.

The next morning comes and I get to see the beautiful jars on the counter.  Winter come and I open a jar from the basement knowing that these were not grown in another country and processed in a plant.  The following Spring comes and I again look forward to the days of canning more spaghetti sauce.

What a cycle this is.

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