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Tomato Sauce

Summer is a wonderful time of year for anyone who loves food. The harvest brings a cascade of flavors, smells, and sights. Canning allows us to capture those sensations and replay them in the cold winter. And the canning process is fun in itself.

Here is my updated process for tomato sauce. I've been canning sauce for about 20 years and I am still working on my technique.

This batch comes from Osage Farms, my favorite farm stand, just north of Clayton.

I start by taking the stem connectors out of the tomatoes (Romas) and cutting them in half. I then cook them on the stove for a few minutes. Once cooked, I can drain off excess water. The longer you cook tomato sauce, the more acidic it gets. Draining water helps reduce the cooking time; the water is pretty clear so it doesn't take out much flavor. This step also loosens the skins which I can pick off with a fork.

I also sweat some onions.

I throw everything into the crock pot. For a long time, I cooked my sauce on the stove, which required me to do the Italian grandmother thing and tend the pot. The crock pot is much easier---I don't know why it took me so long to figure this one out. And the batch I can fit in my crock pot is five quarts, which is a pretty good fit with my canner. I cook for about four hours on low.

I then pack it into quart jars and process it in the pressure cooker. This is my second box of tomatoes this year, yielding a total of 20 quarts. That is enough to keep me content until the next harvest.

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