Monday, September 8, 2008

You Thought I Was Kidding: Tomato Sauce (From Tomatoes)

If you have been reading for a bit, you know I have been dabbling in the 'going local' way of life (ok, yes, my friends look at me funny now when I talk about the awesome farmers market I just discovered). So, I decided that before I buy another can of crushed tomatoes that I would try to make my own sauce from actual fresh tomatoes. My intention was to make then freeze the sauce for pasta and pizza.

I have been looking for a good tomato sauce recipe for awhile now. I'd been toying with making it since I read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle . Most of the ones I came across started with canned tomatoes. Don't get me wrong, I do love canned tomatoes ever since I started making my own sauce and eschewed (SAT word!) the canned/bottled pasta sauce (it's seriously better, no joke). Like a deliverance from a higher power (like Mario Batali), Real Simple had one for making a large amount of sauce in this month's issue. It seemed pretty easy and I decided to use it...silly, silly girl.

This pic is between 25 and 30 lbs of tomatoes. I know, doesn;t look like it. This is what was required for about 8 quarts of sauce according to the RS recipe. I had too, blanch, cool in ice water, peal, core and de-seed all of these before I could even start cooking the sauce; not to mention pealing and crushing 2 heads of garlic and dicing 4 onions. The blanching, cooling, pealing, coring and de-seeding was f-ing tedious but I got it done.

Oh! I also bought a brand new pot to make 1/2 the sauce in b/c you needed 2 at least 9qt pots to do it. Ikea, $34.95, love it (yeah, I know, not so local, you wanna to direct me to a pot maker in PA?). The other pot on the back of the stove is my Multi-Pot. No house should be without one (good for steaming, blanching and all things requiring a stock pot).

Anyway, after what seemed like forever, I finally got the sauce going. It took ages for it to cook down and thicken. When if finally did, I did not get 8 quarts...I only got 4! I was not happy. I spent all evening on this thinking that I would have at least 8 dinners out of this sauce. I ended up with 4.
I began to second guess myself. Had I miscalculated? Had I let it cook down too much? Where did I go wrong!? Then I realized, "Hey, you just cooked tomato sauce from scratch. That is not too shabby no matter how much it is. You did it. You TRIED it

Now, looking at the cost, $10 for the tomatoes (I hit the bruised and overripe section at the farm stand as advised by those in the know), $3 for onions, $1.50 for the garlic, the 4 quarts ended up costing me less than $4 per quart BUT the labor cost was significant to me. I was hot, tired and frustrated the whole time, not to mention the 30 minutes I spent digging through the dollar section at the farm stand looking for tomatoes that would pass good enough for sauce. I really thought that this was going to be a great experience, that I would come away with an appreciation of people that make this on a daily basis. I didn't. The sauce ended up being more like a pizza sauce but not one I'd like on pasta. That's going to be a good deal of pizza (yes, I am going to try that too).
Anyway, would I do it again? Not in that quantity. I might do a smaller amount for one meal or double it and freeze half but never 30 lbs of tomatoes again. I think that if I want tomato sauce on my pasta, other than in the summer, I'll be getting organic canned tomatoes to make it. I'll save the fresh tomatoes of summer for slicing, salting and eating raw.


Jen said...

look at you. that is a TON of tomatoes.

Mrs Parks said...

That sounds like a lot of work.

I agree that yo may be better off doing this on an as needed per meal schedule.

L.R. M-J said... the grand scheme of life 'o naturel, sometimes a base of store bought is just better! (I have found that creating a base of tomatoe paste & sauce, then adding in fresh diced (no hassle of de-seeding, blanching blah blah blah) tomatoes and whatever spices (fresh or dried) that tickled my Italian fancy just always turns out phenomenal!)...p.s. After a weekend spend in garlic land here in la belle France, pink garlic will ALWAYS be better we've been taught (& in a taste test, it is!). Bisous.

-Bridget said...

Holy cow that was a lot of work! I think things taste better when you made them yourself. But there is something to be said for the convenience of a $3.00 jar of Prego as well.

Queen Mommy said...

God love you, because I am all about the crushed tomatoes. Was it GOOD, at least?

We started the crushed tomatoes thing when we were saving money for our wedding, it is SO yummie and WAY better than the jar.

Queen Mommy said...

2 cups of lentils washed and destoned.
1 can DICED tomatoes, 14.5oz
8 cups of chicken broth
1/2 - 1 lb of smoked pork or beef sausage.
1TBSP. of Salt

Mix everything together sans sausage.

Cut sausage into 2" pieces and put on top.
Cook on low 4-6 hours

Rhea said...

What an amazing undertaking! Very cool though.

Cherlyn said...

Your blogs are makig me hungry.

Sue said...

Um, holy shit girlfriend.... you are a cooking machine! Why didn't I make you cook for me when you were on Cape Cod? Next summer, count me in for a night will you? My steak and chicken on the grill pale in comparison to your pestos and sauces. I bow to you.

I can make a mean chocolate cake though, so I will supply that part of the meal.

Tiffany said...

Okay, I love Ikea.. and the fact that you attempted this.

I shell out the $6.50 for Amy's Organic.. it's worth every penny.

BS5 Blogger said...

Hello! I am really enjoying your 'going local' theme. Top stuff!

I bet the Ikea near me in Bristol is just like the one near you. Nice pot!

Los said...

I don't think I'd have the patience to do this ... my wife probably would, though.

schue said...

Yum, I love fresh tomato sauce. I made it too this summer, and I didn't really get the amount I thought I would. You should see if you have a Produce junction near you, i'm a huge fan.

Anonymous said...

I got queesy just looking at the pile of tomatoes! I can't do tomoatoes.
Good for you for actually making your own sauce. No small feat!

Me said...

That is so funny, that is like the ONE thing at IKEA that I haven't bought, but have been thinking about buying for quite some time now.

Now that I see that pot on your stove, I will probably buy it. That's how I am, if I see that somebody else has it then I have to have it.

Spoiled much? probably :)

Live.Love.Eat said...

Holy Tomatoes Batgirl!!! That's a lotta tomatoes. Thanks for stopping by before. Don't mind me, I'm feeling a little loopy and then I got more excited to see someone new came by!

Lindsay said...

You are to be commended for your patience, because I would not have had it to make that much sauce.

I'm a bit of a lazy cook, too. And a Ragu girl.

Lula! said...

Regardless, I'm impressed with you. Can't wait to see all the fabulous pizzas you invent using this sauce!