Preserving Garden Tomatoes
Tomato sauce recipes are ubiquitous. Ask your friends and they will all have their own versions which most cling to like a plum pit. If you grow your own tomatoes like I do, you want to do something really special with your precious harvest.
This year I am growing Italian San Marzano heirloom tomatoes. Originating from the town of San Marzano sul Sarno in southern Italy near Naples, they are a prized Italian treasure. You can usually find the canned version in specialty stores but rarely will you see them in the fresh fruit section of the grocery stores or even at Farmer’s Markets. They are a smaller, more elongated version of an American plum tomato or Roma, with a thick pulp and low acidity which makes them perfect for preserving. As if overnight, about five pounds of them ripened simultaneously in my garden. It was time to can.
How did I decide on what kind of sauce to make with these coveted tomatoes? I consulted my library of traditional Italian cookbooks from Giuliano Buglialli to Ada Boni. The suggestions ranged from complex to simple. From my travels in Italy, I know that the true Italian version of “sugo di pomodoro” or tomato sauce is not to embellish it with too many flavors. The intention is to keep it simple so the tang of the tomato can shine. I liked Bugialli’s technique of simplicity so improvised with my own twist.
- 4-5 lbs of San Marzano or Italian Plum tomatoes
- 2 tbs Garlic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Handful of basil chiffonade (thinly sliced basil leaves)
- Cut the tomatoes in half lengthwise.
- Place in a deep saucepan.
- Stir in Garlic Olive Oil
- Stir in basil. The basil helps bring out the flavor of the tomato.
- Cook over low-medium heat, stirring occasionally until juice is released and tomatoes break down. This took about 2 hours.
The finished sauce, thick and juicy and delectable.
Most people will pass it through a food mill to eliminate the skins and seeds. Not me. I am ok with seeing and eating the entire fruit.
You can either pour it over hot pasta and sprinkle with parmesan or preserve it by canning like I did. Instead of placing my jars in a water bath and sealing my cans, I opt to freeze my sauce in the jars. It lasts nicely, keeps its vibrant red color and is easy!
“Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit, wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.”
― Miles Kington
Ciao with Love,