I often feel more Italian than Mexican or Armenian because of my obsessions with Italian culture! It must have been the Romans who conquered most of the world that has left a small imprint of Italian culture in me haha. In any case tomatoes are a big part of Mexican, Italian, and Mediterranean culture and will always be to me the most versatile fruit to me! I went tomato picking at 6am the other day with my dad and Italian family friends who were stocking up for the year. They annually pick near 400lbs of fresh roma tomatoes, can them in 3 days and store them in the garage, so they always have homemade sauce. This is my goal one day, because I want to avoid buying canned tomatoes or unripe tomatoes in December, or from halfway around the world. But, this was my first time, and I only did 60lbs tomatoes, which was quite an accomplishment for me. I didn’t have the correct canning equipment and learned from mistakes! But it was fun. I have made the recipe more accessible by making downsizing it! I hope you will give it a try and dare to can!
20 roma tomatoes
3 cloves garlic
1 medium onion
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
1 large handful basil
1 bay leaf 2 teaspoons salt
1 T olive oil
This is a very basic basil-marinara sauce. You can omit the basil, you can add a few springs of oregano, add 2 chopped celery, or 1 carrot to make the flavors perfect for you. If you like it more sweet add more onion and carrot. If you like it with a punch add 1/3 cup red wine after you have sauteed the garlic, onion, and tomato paste. Find the secret to your sauce!
1. To peel the tomatoes: Bring a large pot full of water to a boil. Prepare a large bowl of ice water. Make sure to not overfill with water or when you place the tomatoes in, water will spill over.
2. Slit tomatoes on bottom very lightly, just making an “X.” This will make it easier to peel later.
3. When the water boils, add as many tomatoes fit but still having some room in pot to fetch them out. Leave in 45 seconds. Then remove and place in ice cold water for no more than 2 minutes. You may have to do in 2 batches.
4. Take them out of the water and peel. If they don’t peel easy then put them back in the boiling water 30 seconds, or just leave the peel on. You don’t need to peel the tomatoes, but I prefer to.
5. Then, cut tomatoes in half horizontally and squeeze out seeds. Then chop into quarters and set aside.
6. Empty out the big pot so you can start making the marinara!
7. Coarsely chop onion and garlic. Put oil in pot. When hot, saute onion, garlic, and any other chopped veggies you desire for about 2 minutes.
8. Add the tomato paste and cook for about 1 minute just to get rid of the raw taste. Add the red wine and reduce at this point if you like. Otherwise, ad the tomatoes, bay leaf, basil, and salt. Bring to boil, then cover and simmer for 2 hours.
9. After 2 hours puree in blender or an immersion blender. Always check seasoning, adding salt or more pepper if you like or even a pinch of sugar. I like to keep it pretty neutral and season later when I eat it with my pasta if I need to.
About 5 small jars or 2 big ones and lids
Patience if its your first time
1. Put jars in a large pot. Fill with water and bring to a boil. Once boiled, turn water down to simmer, be careful and lift jars out of water. Don’t place on cold marble. Place on towel or insulated place. Sterilize lids in boiling water too, but in a small saucepan.
2. Immediately fill jars with simmering-hot marinara sauce. Jars must be hot or the cool-hot temperature differences will make the jar crack or weaken. Clean rim of jars, then place sterilized lid on. Be careful jars are hot! Use tongs to submerge jar back into the simmering water in the large pot. Do this immediately while everything is hot.
* Lower jars gently here!!! I had a small mishap here because I plunged the jar in and the bottom cracked and I lost all my precious sauce! Keep at a simmer with the pot’s lid on for 45 minutes. *
3. After 45 minutes, turn heat off, and take out jars, and place on towel or insulated place upside down. You may want to wait for the water to calm down before reaching in there and grabbing the jar. Leave the jars upside down until cooled to room temperature.