From harvest to table ~ what's cooking now?

This blog shows where all those garden goodies I grow end up. I call this little eating area next to the stove my "chef's table" because at all the best restaurants it's a privilege to be invited to dine in the kitchen where the chef reigns supreme. So here I am "reigning" and you are all invited. :-D

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Cold "cooked" tomato sauce

In a previous post I demonstrated how easy it was to make tomato sauce if you remove most of the water before you simmer the tomatoes.

In my last post I lamented how stuffed my freezer was right now so I hunted for ways to unstuff it.  Friday morning I found 2 gallon bags of frozen tomato halves. I was going to put them in a pot to simmer like in the previous post, but the day got away from me so I just left the bags in a colander in the sink after cutting the corners off the bottom of the bags.

(I should mention that this year I did NOT scald/skin the tomatoes before I froze them.  I just cut them in half and bagged them up - much less work.)  Anyway, I left the bags in the sink for a couple of hours while I got busy with something else.  By that afternoon the tomatoes had started to thaw and leaking pretty good.  But I still didn't have time to cook, so I dumped the contents into a stockpot and shoved the whole sheebang into the 'fridge.  Every now and then I would tip out the clear liquid that had thawed.  In the end I left the pot there until Sunday morning.

By then there was no more clear liquid to thaw and tomato volume had reduced to about a third.  And I finally had time to cook them up.  First I took 10 minutes to slip off the loose skins before turning on the heat.

All that went into the pot was thick tomato meat and seeds.

I used my potato masher to break up and crush all the halves.  Then I brought the works to a boil and let them simmer for 30 minutes.

I didn't want to overcook.

While the sauce was still warm, I forced it through a sieve to remove all the seeds.

And voila!  Hands down the quickest and thickest tomato sauce I've ever made.  And easiest for sure - by letting the FREEZER do most of the "cooking" instead of the stove.  It softened all the fruit and shriveled the skins for easy removal and the thawing released all the "whey" so I didn't have to simmer the sauce for hours to thicken up.

In the end those 2 gallon bags yielded a shy quart of heavily textured rustic sauce.

I didn't add any seasonings at this point, but will freeze it in 1C containers.  From there I can make tomato soup, or add to chili, pasta or pizza sauce, etc. and add the appropriate seasonings then.

Not only did this turn out to be the best sauce to date, but, boy!, did I free up some freezer space! Win - Win!

I also appreciated working on a small batch - not as overwhelming (or time consuming).  But fear not.  This 1 quart isn't the extent of my bounty.

I've got 3 more gallon bags of tomatoes  stashed over in my Mother's freezer!  :-D

P.S.  Observation:  While just washing and halving the tomatoes and then bagging them up is the fastest/easiest to get the fruit into the freezer, this method takes up more freezer space.  Last year I scalded and skinned the halves and let them drain a bit before bagging them up.  Those frozen bags contained far less water than this year's bags.  That's why in the older post you saw how much sauce I ended up with from the same amount of bags.  Bottom line - this coming season I'll use which ever freezing method I have time (or space) for when harvest starts coming thick and fast as both processes have their appeal.

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