Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Tomato Sauce Redux

Fig.1. For proper canning techniques go to http://www.canningpantry.com/index.html

I’m starting to think that my obsession with tomatoes is unhealthy. I’ve written so much about them, both for the magazine and for this site, that I was sure there was nothing else to say: I was wrong. What keeps driving me is the never-ending (and unattainable) quest for the perfect tomato sauce: I’ve dissected them, peeled them, removed seeds, removed jelly, and passed them all through a myriad of grinders, presses and sieves. Sometimes the sauce turned out, other times, not so much. So after all this time and trial where am I now—I’m back to the tomato, untouched and unaltered.

Fig.2. Cut the tomatoes into manageable pieces, removing only the stem and any bruises or blemishes.

According to a recent study in, The Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, tomato seeds and the surrounding jelly are packed with glutamic acid, a naturally occurring flavour enhancer also known as umami. The skin of the tomato we now know contains Lycopene; a powerful antioxidant. That’s why this year I’ve decided to keep it simple. I’m canning my tomatoes whole as nature intended. When I need to make sauce I simply put the preserved tomatoes in a blender and puree until all of the seeds and skins liquefy. I then make a soffrito of onions and garlic, and bring the sauce to a gentle simmer for a couple of hours.
In case you’re wondering, I got the tomatoes at the Birri Brothers kiosk in the Jean Talon market, which still abounds with beautiful harvest vegetables. I especially want to thank Joe and Mr. Birri for all of your great advice throughout the year (and Joe, the bell peppers were incredible).

Fig.3. Bring the tomato pieces to a rolling boil and skim off any tomato-scum which rises to the surface.

Fig.4. Put some fresh basil in your sterilized jars and fill with the boiling sauce. If your jars and your sauce are hot enough your jars should seal. It's very important to verify that each jar has properly sealed. If after 5 to 6 hours a jar has not sealed place the jar in a water bath and bring to a boil.

1 comment:

Cheri said...

Thanks for the tips, Sandro : ) I think you're onto something...Au natural is always the best way to go! I'm looking forward to following your tips when I dive into making a batch of sauce this week.