cooking with Nonna and canning tomatoes

Tomato season for any Italian descendant is a production and, frankly, a hassle.
It starts off on a great note with backyard-grown tomatoes. My grandparents have grown tomatoes from the same strain for 50 years,- saving seeds from each crop to plant the next year,- and they're awesome. Seriously.

But then you realize that August has snuck up on you and that it means that it's tomato canning time, whether you're ready or not. It's hot, it's messy, it's never-ending... but it's worth it when you get to live out the rest of the year with tomato sauce that is a trillion times better than anything you can buy in stores.

If you have the time and inclination, do it! Future you will be immensely grateful.

Canned Tomato sauce:

Yield: approx. 750ml sauce per 1lbs tomatoes        Time Required: 24 hrs

  • Fresh tomatoes,- 1 lb per every 750ml jar you'd like to make
  • Fresh basil,- a few leaves per every jar you'd like to make
  • Salt

Equipment Needed:
  • 2 large pots
  • A large colander lined with cheesecloth
  • A large bowl
  • A tomato milling machine/tomato press/food mill
  • A ladle
  • Sanitized mason jars with snap lids and bands
  • Dishcloths or sheets of newspaper


1. Wash the tomatoes very well in cold water. Allow to dry completely.

2. Cut the tomatoes in half, discarding any mouldy or discoloured bits that you may come across.

3. Put tomatoes in a pot, add a bit of water,- enough to cover an inch of the bottom of the pot,- and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Boil for 20-30 minutes, or until the skins of the tomatoes start to peel off and the tomatoes are soft.

4. Using a slotted spoon, remove the cooked tomatoes from the pot (leaving the majority of the liquid behind) and transfer to a colander lined with cloth which is resting over a bowl/pot to catch the dripping liquid (or a bushel lined with a tablecloth on top of a bucket, if you're doing this old-school).

6. Fill your sanitized mason jars with tomato puree, adding a few basil leaves for flavour and ensuring that you leave a bit of space at the top of the jar. Wipe down the jars very well with a damp cloth (ensures a tight seal). Top with a mason jar snap lid, and screw the rings on tightly.

7. Place the filled jars in cloth-lined pot with enough warm water to cover, making sure to place cloth or newspaper in-between and on top of jars (this prevents the jars from shattering from theheat). Bring water to a boil and boil for 15 minutes.

8. Remove the pot from the heat and allow the jars to remain in the pot at room temperature overnight. This allows the puree to continue cooking slowly.

9. Remove the cooled jars from the pot. Ensure that the lids are sealed properly by checking that the lid is flat/concave rather than popped up. If you press the middle of the lid down with your finger and it pops back up when you release it, the jar is not sealed (in this case, refrigerate the unsealed jars and consume within 2 days). Sealed jars will store well in a cool, dark place for up to a year unopened.

When you're rea
dy to consume the sauce, simply sauté a bit of onion in a tablespoon of olive oil, add the jarred sauce, simmer for 30 minutes and enjoy!

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