I’m not a huge fan of tomatoes but I am a huge fan of always having some homemade tomato sauce on hand when you can’t be bothered to cook anything but pasta.
I decided to grow three difference types of tomato: one cherry, one that’s good for sun drying, and a larger variety for canning. For sun drying ( I cheat by using the oven) I use the Principle Borghese tomato, grown from seed. It’s an heirloom from Italy, famous for that purpose. I cut the tomatoes in half and place them on a tray in the oven on the lowest heat for hours and hours. When they are dried (but not crispy) I let them cool, and then put them in jars of oil, making sure the oil covers everything. They will keep like that for months and months.
This year I was late out of the gate with my cherry tomato seeds so I decided to buy some starts. I went with the Sungold variety – delicious. I think these will be my go to from now on. Not only was the flavour fantastic but their orange colour looked wonderful against the red ones.
For my larger tomatoes I grew the Tappy variety from seed, after reading some really good reviews at www.rareseeds.com. I also had some beefsteak seeds given to me so I decided to add one of those in the mix too.
- 2 Sungold (this will give you a lot of cherries but I’m reluctant to ever grow one of anything in case one plant dies.)
- 2 Principle Borghese
- 2 Tappy, 1 Beefsteak.
And here’s what happened:
The cherries were first out of the gate. Those that I didn’t eat straight away, I froze to either add in the canned sauce later or to keep for stews over the winter. The Borghese were next and almost all them were sun dried to make a total of 10 4oz cans. The Tappy and Beefsteak, being the biggest, were last. Since I only had three plants of these, there was never enough of each harvest to do a reasonable amount of canning, so I would also add in any other ripe tomatoes of the other varieties to bump up the volume.
The stems and any large skin blemishes were removed but since everything was going through the food mill, I didn’t skin, deseed or remove smaller blemishes. These tomatoes filled an 8 quart stock pot to the brim and were boiled for about 15 mins until they had disintegrated.
After running all the pulp through the food mill, I ended up with just over half the stockpot full.
The tomato juice is now boiled until it starts to thicken. During the boiling down, I added about 1 cup of wine, salt and pepper and honey to taste (depending on how sweet your tomatoes are and how sweet you like your sauce. ) I didn’t thicken up my sauce too much before canning. It will thicken as it cools down and I usually thicken it up a little more when I end up using it.
Canning is the same as for the strawberry jam. Boil the jars for about 10 mins, then add the sauce and boil again to seal for about another 10 mins. This batch made 5 jars and so far this year, I have 21. Along with the 10 jars of sun dried tomatoes, that’s not a bad stash from 7 tiny tomato seeds.