Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sauce Blog

Jarred tomato sauce
Sauce, Tomato Sauce, Gravy, Pasta Sauce, Spaghetti Sauce, Broth, Salsa or whatever you call it is one of the best creations in the world, at least in my opinion. Especially, when it’s homemade from fresh tomatoes.  

I’ve my hands in making sauce (what I call it) as far back as I can remember. My parents and I would get out a hand crank mill and adhere it to the table or counter sometime in august when our garden was producing more tomatoes than we could give away and/or use. After milling the tomatoes my parents would freeze some just like that to make sauce after they ran out. They would make sauce from the rest of the milled tomatoes. My parents never jarred or canned their sauce but with a large stand-up freezer they didn’t have to. They would take the pureed tomatoes (what you get when you mill them) add garlic, onion, evoo, fresh herbs (also from their garden) and a ton of meat products: sausage from Ruggiero’s Italian Market in Rosetto, homemade meatballs, and other parts of pig and cow, sometimes rib meat, sometimes, butt, shoulder, or whatever we had, and sometimes my parents would make briscole with skirt steak (a favorite of mine). Making sauce is a cherished memory of mine but the best part was when the sauce was finished, normally around lunch time because we started so early in the morning, I would get a heaping bowl of sauce, some meat products, and a couple slices of bread and just dig in. Yumm! Once the sauce cooled they put it in containers and froze the sauce so my mom could just take it out the morning she needed it and it tasted as fresh as the day they made it.
When I met my husband over 6 years ago I found out that his family was Italian and made sauce too. I was so happy that we shared this in common because it is one of my favorite things to make. I also discovered that his parents jarred their sauce, which is quite different than they way my parents do it. When I finally tried their sauce I liked it because it reminded me of my parents. The thing I liked about it is that both families keep it simple and pure, no carrots or celery, no sugar or corn syrup, YUCK! Sweet sauces suck! If you don’t like the acid in a tomato sauce use less acidic tomatoes or take a damn Tums!
I’m going to go off in a tangent here. After I started writing this blog, I wondered why people and companies put sugar/corn syrup in their sauce so I decided to ask good old google. Apparently it is to balance out the acidity, but it only does so flavor wise, it doesn’t actually change the acid content. So its not going to stop you from having acid reflux (see Tums note above). People and companies probably started adding sugar of corn syrup to sauce because Americans tend to like things on the sweet side and may not like the true acidic flavor of tomato sauce. I doubt any real Italian would add sugar to their sauce, I’ve never heard of one doing so. If they wanted a sweeter sauce they would have just added carrots, but never sugar. So if you can do me one favor, please leave sugar and corn syrup for baking and keep it out of your sauce.
I began making sauce with my in-laws a few years ago. They make what they call Salsa Pronte which is just the cooked pureed tomatoes with salt added to a jar with a few sprigs of basil. Initially when Domenick and I made sauce with them, we made ours with onions, garlic, basil, salt, pepper, and evoo, but found that you had to add to add some more garlic, seasonings and evoo to taste when preparing the sauce anyway so this year we decided to make Salsa Pronte.
It was a very long process and took 10.5 hrs which didn’t include clean up and final canning time. I eventually did EVERY task for the first time and it was a wonderful experience.
First make sure your tomatoes are clean by washing them in buckets of water. We put the dirty tomatoes in a bucket fill it with water wash the tomatoes, then use a second bucket with clean water to make sure they’re extra clean. Then we put the freshly washed tomatoes in another bucket.
My niece Sabrina was a big help with washing the tomatoes

Washing the tomatoes and basil

 Next you boil the tomatoes.

Once the tomatoes are boiled add them to a bowl so you can mill them.
Then make sure to get rid of the excess tomato juice and water and add the tomatoes to the mill.

 Then mill the tomatoes and mill the rinds another two times to make the sauce thicker. 

Tomatoes in the hopper

Pushing the tomatoes through the mill

Sauce coming out on the right, the seeds and skins coming out on the left

Then add the basil to the clean mason jars (sorry no picture)
Fresh Basil
Then add the sauce to a big bowl and salt to taste. Next add the sauce to the jars and top the jars with their lids and rings. Then boil until jars are sealed.

The beautiful finished product

The difference I see between jarring and freezing.
Freezing sauce
Pros: You can add meat, herbs and spices and it will taste almost as good as the day you made it. It tastes fresher than jarred sauce. You only make in smaller batches so it takes less time to make it. You can use your own home grown tomatoes since you are using a smaller batch. You can literally take the sauce out, defrost it, heat it and eat it.
Con’s: It only last about 6mos maybe a year if you are lucky, but the sauce will begin to crystallize and loose flavor if you keep it too long. Since you are making a smaller batch you will need to do it every 6 months. You’ll also need a lot of freezer space.
Jarring Sauce
Pros: You can store it for years and it won’t spoil. You can make a large amount at a time. No need to defrost and no chance of freezer burn. Only need to make it every few years.
Cons: Glass jars break easily. It takes a lot longer to make and jar because of the quantity. Need a ton of cool dark storage space, (ie a decent size basement pantry). It needs to be spruced up with garlic, herbs, spices and meats.
In conclusion it doesn’t matter how you make or keep sauce, the point is to just get out there and do it! I still to this day cannot understand how people eat supermarket jarred sauce when it’s so easy and so delicious to make your own!


  1. I remember nan making her sauce-I wish she had wrote it down for me to try now. They truely were great memories and the best tasting ever-Thank you for sharing this. What kind of tomatoes do you like using?

  2. Yeah her sauce was good! All of her cooking and baking was good. Can she help cook and bake now? That is one of the reasons I am keeping this blog to keep the food memories alive! I guess I should have posted which tomatoes we used in the blog. We used plum tomatoes. When making fresh sauce I like using fresh Roma or plum tomatoes for sauce. Canned Roma or plum are good too, but the best canned tomatoes to make sauce with are San Marzano tomatoes.