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BTD Forums  /  Cook Right 4 Your Type  /  Homemade tomato sauce
Posted by: ruthiegirl, Thursday, August 29, 2013, 2:21pm
I've been getting lots of tomatoes from the CSA. Leah's the only one who eats them raw, and she's in Israel for the next 10 months. Jack and I shouldn't be eating tomatoes at all, and Hannah only likes tomatoes in the form of tomato sauce (only on pizza) or ketchup. Tomato sauce seems easier to make.

So far I've made two batches, and I have about 6 pounds of tomatoes from this week ready for another (larger) batch. Here's how I did it:

I cut the tomatoes into chunks, dumped them in the crock pot, put on the lid, and let it cook on "high" for a while. With the first batch, I took it out, strained it (discovering that my wider strainer works better, as the smaller one strained out the pulp I wanted to keep along with the seeds and skins I wanted removed) then realized it was still too watery and put it back in the crock pot for a while before transferring to a jar.

With the second batch, I kept the lid partially off for part of the cooking time, to encourage evaporation. It still came more watery than Hannah likes. I added a few powdered spices (in the hope of thickening it up a bit) before freezing.

I also noticed that both batches lost the bright red color and turned brown-ish by the time they seemed cooked enough, and they still were more watery than I like.

Any tips on making thicker sauce?

Also, is there an easier way to separate out the skins and seeds than straining after cooking? It's a rather tedious and messy process- squishing the cooked tomatoes through with a spoon,  then having to scrape the tomato goo off the back of the strainer, and I have to repeat the process quite a few times until there's an adequate amount of sauce in the bowl and the strainer is nearly empty; just skin and seeds.

Would it be easier to strain them out earlier in the cooking process then put back in the pot to finish cooking?
Posted by: Lola, Thursday, August 29, 2013, 4:46pm; Reply: 1
take off the skins first, a quick dip into boiling water

thicken with compliant bean flour or other glutinous agent
Posted by: ruthiegirl, Thursday, August 29, 2013, 5:25pm; Reply: 2
How do I get the seeds out?
Posted by: Brighid45, Thursday, August 29, 2013, 6:44pm; Reply: 3
As Lola says, put a few tomatoes at a time in boiling water for about 10-15 seconds. When I can them, I have the sink set up with a big bowl for the blanched tomatoes. They get dipped, then put in the bowl to cool off. Once they're all processed, I peel them. At that point you could cut them in half and clean out the seeds and goop, though you lose some flavor that way--the umami, or super-flavored part, is the goopy stuff. Anyway, it's tedious but you'll get just the flesh that way.

When my mom was canning large amounts of tomato sauce and applesauce, she bought a Victorio strainer:

It works much like a food mill but strains out skins and seeds a lot better with much less effort. You put a bread baggie on the cone, and the skins and seeds go into the baggie (or you can put a bowl under it). Makes THE BEST applesauce ever, we made hundreds of gallons of both tomato and apple sauces with our strainer.

Cooking tomato sauce down thick does turn the sauce brown from oxidation--you might be able to stop it somewhat by adding a little lemon juice. I've used both an immersion and a regular blender to get the texture more fine, which helps get the sauce cooked down a bit more, but if you cook it too much it'll start to stick and scorch as the water content gets really low.

Hope this is helpful to you :)
Posted by: ruthiegirl, Thursday, August 29, 2013, 6:55pm; Reply: 4
That's too much for my budget right now, and I'm not making gallons of tomato and apple sauces. I might be making a gallon total of tomato sauce the entire summer!

I think I'll try blanching and peeling before making the next batch, and I'll see how hard it is for me to remove the seeds (yet retain the goop) at that stage.

I don't think there's any real risk of scorching if I cook them in the crock pot. Do you think I should try cooking them in the crock pot uncovered?
Posted by: Lola, Thursday, August 29, 2013, 7:14pm; Reply: 5
pitting is upside down cut in half, or use a spoon
Posted by: ABJoe, Friday, August 30, 2013, 2:24am; Reply: 6
Quoted from ruthiegirl
Also, is there an easier way to separate out the skins and seeds than straining after cooking?

One way we did it blanch the tomatoes and peel the skins off, then quarter the tomatoes and use your fingertip to force the seeds out of the "grooves" of the tomato prior to cooking...  

We also had a big colander with a round wooden tool to rotate to "mash" the cooked tomatoes and separate the pulp and juice from the seeds and skin.

Either way, there was a certain amount of work and mess involved...
Posted by: Brighid45, Friday, August 30, 2013, 11:20pm; Reply: 7
I understand about budgets :)

You can definitely cook the sauce in the crock pot--I make mine that way sometimes and just leave the lid propped with a chopstick or skewer, so the steam escapes but most of the heat stays in. You'll still have the same problem with scorching at the end though, but if you keep an eye on the sauce as it thickens and keep stirring it, it should be okay. If you really want to keep the goop, try rubbing the tomato 'guts' through a fine strainer. I do this with canned tomatoes because my housemate doesn't like seeds. I rub the goop through the strainer with the back of a spoon. It's tedious but does add some flavor back in.
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