Truly No-Nonsense Tomato Sauce

Brianne over at the ever hilarious Real Mountain Values issued a plea for help yesterday. She is growing (her first?) garden and facing an oncoming glut of tomatoes. On the one hand I want to slap her, what with my own apparent inability to produce tomatoes. On the other hand I want to help a girl out.

Here’s the deal. That whole blanching and peeling business? I understand that some people feel it’s necessary, but I suspect they don’t have little squealers underfoot. In my personal, cowgirl Calamity opinion, blanching, peeling and seeding tomatoes in the hot of summer sounds like a curse akin to serpents and apples.

If you want some nicely peeled tomatoes for canning, save out your bigger babies and lavish them with the extra care. Then throw the rest of the sons-a-bitches in a big pot with half cup of water, stick a lid on, simmer until very soft, then blender the shit out of them. I love my stick blender for this, but a regular old blender will work fine so long as you let the ‘maters cool first to avoid explosions of boiling hot tomato all over your kitchen (seriously).

pesky little cherries and bigger tomatoes with a blemish on one side are prime candidates for this no-nonsense sauce

Make sure you process until they’re very smooth. I do find little bits of skin in my sauce, but it doesn’t bother me near so much as standing over a pot of boiling water for 40 minutes, dunking tomatoes three at a time. And the seeds have just never bothered me, though if they bother you, seeding fresh tomatoes is easy– cut in half across the equator, hold over your chicken bucket and squeeze. There, done.

As far as storage goes, you can freeze tomatoes whole, as in– throw those suckers in a bag and stick it in the freezer to process later. It works surprising well, but I don’t recommend it (unless you’re 9 months pregnant) because in my humble experience “later” is a faulty concept in homesteading endeavors. Like armagedon, “later” just never seems to come.

But what I do recommend if you have the freezer space is freezing the processed sauce. You can use plastic tupperware containers, straight sided jars (leave about 3/4 inch of space at the top for expansion) or even zip lock bags. I use wide-mouthed pint jars. I will admit to thawing them in the microwave when I’m in a hurry for dinner, but you can also stick them in a bowl of warm water to quick thaw. The advantage of tupperware is that you can pop the big square tomatosicle right out into the pot when you want it. Still, I feel funny about storing acidic foods in plastic, even though I apparently feel no compunction about the microwave. Go figure.

One last note, this no-nonsense sauce probably won’t be as thick and strongly tomato flavored as what you might be used to. An extra hour of simmering the puree will concentrate it, and a little spoon of sugar is never a bad idea with tomatoes. But if the tomato flavor still isn’t blowing your skirt up, and you aren’t yet producing your family’s entire yearly tomato supply anyway, why not just scrap the hard core ideals and stir in a can of store bought tomato paste? I’ve done it.

8 thoughts on “Truly No-Nonsense Tomato Sauce

  1. Yup, I came to just the same conclusion. Blanch peel seed = too much dang work. I store my sauce in gallon zip locks. Freeze them flat and they stack really well. I freeze on a sheetpan since I learned they will mold and freeze around freezer rack wires. That’s an uncomfortable thing when they won’t release.

  2. I don’t mind the peeling~dunk in a pot of boiling water~giant witches pot~about 10#s at a time~then fish out tomatoes after a minute~put under cold running water & peel. My kids are 15 and 23, so this is something you can look forward to doing in the future with your dear husband!! PS~Always keep the seeds~there is a lot of vitamins in that membrane around the seeds!!

  3. Thanks so much! I’ll just pulverize the hell out of the skins. I freaking hate blanching!

    I wish I could say this is my first time around with a garden and that I didn’t know better with the tomatoes. However, it is my first time around with an heirloom garden and I made the mistake of thinking heirlooms won’t produce like the newer commercial strains. Plus I figured new house, poor soil surely I won’t have ten billion tomatoes again this year…


    If anything these heirloom suckers are making more of a unbelievable tomato-geddon than ever. Sorry to rub it in.

    Blender here I come!

  4. I have a cute Italian thing that eats tomatoes at one end, spits out the skin and seeds to the side and pours out juice at the other end. I love it. I cook the juice until it is thick and can it. So easy. I got it at a garage sale. It is called a ‘Victorio’.

  5. Sweet post, CJ, and I am going to try your method if we end up with a glut at any point. I finally did actually use a few of those frozen ones… we’ll see what happens with the rest when my bursts of nesting are replaced with cluster feeding a newborn. (Which is one reason why you are probably right about later never coming….)

  6. Right with you there on unnecessary work! The only thing I do is cutting up tomatoes, mash a bit with masher, add sauteed onion and garlic (which can be done the day before) and can it. Glad to know someone else takes a lot of shortcuts.

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