Do you remember that scene in Anne of Green Gables when Matthew buys all that sugar because he is too embarrassed to buy Anne the dress with the puffed sleeves?
Do you remember when Marilla is dividing the sugar into smaller bins and says, rolling her eyes and huffing,
20 pounds of raw sugar, she says, her voice full of exasperation and admiration all the same time – do you remember that scene?
Well, that was me when I realized that we had planted 69 tomato plants.
69 tomato plants, I said, my voice full of exasperation and admiration.
What in the world would we do with the bounty of 69 tomato plants?
This right here is just one morning’s harvest on a lite day. Crisper drawers, baskets, and window sills have been spilling over with tomatoes. I have eaten more tomato sandwiches this year than I have eaten in total over the past 41 years and Nathan takes at least with one with him everyday to work.
We have given away tomatoes, made jars of the best salsa, and now, finally, it was pasta sauce making time.
I have made jelly before and Nathan has made refrigerator pickles, but this was our first time canning together and Nathan’s first time to hot can.
We began by standing in the canning section of the store, staring at the shelves, trying to decide – did we want to make sauce or can whole tomatoes? Did we want to freeze or jar?
In the end we decided to go with a simple sauce based on the recommendation of a seasoned canner who was also standing in the store aisle trying to decide what to buy, our decision weighed heavily by our desire to save time down the road.
Each of the boys cooks one meal a week, and Wylie’s usually involves popping open a jar of sauce to serve with frozen pasta, so we decided that during the buys school year the chances of using pre-made sauce was greater than the chance that we would be making sauce from scratch on more than a few occasions.
Decision made! Pasta sauce in jars it was!
Here is the very complicated recipe we used:
Step 1: Buy this packet.
Step 2: Follow all it’s directions.
In total we used 2 packets of mix, countless tomatoes and canned 12 pints of sauce.
The total process took about 5 hours because Nathan was the only one coring and peeling the tomatoes and he is very methodical. I think if we had all been on that part it would have gone a lot faster.
Also we should have started boiling the canning water a lot earlier than we did because that huge pot took FOREVER to get hot.
But maybe there is something to be said for the slow, methodical, potentially meditative work of coring pounds of tomatoes a few at a time, then placing them in a steamer basket, and gently slipping their skins off before beating them to a pulp in the food processor, and maybe there are spiritual lessons hidden in the time it took for the enormous pot of water to start a rolling boil, lessons about patience and Slow Living.
Maybe. Or maybe not. I honestly couldn’t tell you as I am suffering from SSHCS – Severe Summer Heat Cranky Syndrome.
It’s so hot here that I think God may be on vacation in Colorado.
One thing we forgot to do, that our lovely canning friend suggested, was to add some tomato paste to the mix to help thicken the sauce up a bit, and now that we have made a batch I agree that it is pretty thin, so we might add a small can of paste to each jar as we use it.
Other than being a bit thin, the sauce was really fresh and delicious, and much better than the jar sauces we buy.
We even gave it an official try over “Wylie’s Pasta” (as we now refer to bags of frozen ravioli and tortellini’s,) and Miles who tends to lean more towards cream sauces, gave it two thumbs up.
And there you have it – We have put up our very first batch of Preservation Acre’s Pasta Sauce! Another farmstead first! Hurrah!