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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Marinara Sauce

The other day, my mom and I were riding past a tomato field to get back to the ranch. “Those tomatoes look so good! Too bad we don’t have a bag to pick any” Mom said… well then I got a text the next day that the farmer was going to level the field with all those ripe tomatoes so we needed to get our butts over there and get picking. I wasn’t able to, but my dad went and got a whole bunch. Mom got enough to make tomato soup for an army (it was GOOD!) and I got a whole bag too. Nice!

Continuing with my “sauce project” I was going to try my hand at catsup. But my husband requested marinara sauce, which I was thinking about – until I went to make pizzas and realized we didn’t have any pasta sauce. Well, that convinced me. I went online and took the best ingredients from a couple recipes. My Mom has a recipe, but I really wanted to add veggies.

So I did it! I decided to put it in the crock pot overnight so it would be ready to can after I dropped Connor off at school.

Jeremy reluctantly helped me chop vegetables after trick-or-treating. If I was using canned tomatoes & tomato sauce, this would be a really fast prep. But since I was using fresh tomatoes, it took a while. I boiled water and added a couple tomatoes at a time, took them out of the water, and allowed them to cool so I could take the skin off and deseed them. I ended up using about 25ish tomatoes (I lost count). I cut up the firm tomatoes and tossed them into the crock pot, while I pureed the squishier tomatoes.

Here is the recipe that I used as a guide:

Slow Cooker Spaghetti Marinara Sauce

5 tomatoes, chopped
2 (15 oz) cans tomato sauce
1 can tomato paste (I didn’t need this)
2 small onions, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced (I used 1 tbsp of crushed)
1 bell pepper, chopped
12 mushrooms, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 small zucchini, chopped
¼ cup red wine (I used a sterling that was open ;D)
1 bay leaf
1 tsp black pepper
¾ tbsp basil
½ tbsp oregano
¼ tsp sage
1 tsp paprika
1/8 tsp  red pepper flakes
1 tsp sugar

Put all of the ingredients into a large Crock Pot. Cook on low for 10-12 hours. Stir occasionally.

Towards the end of the 10 hours I had it cooking, it looked to me like there was a little too much water, so I uncovered the pot for an hour and that did the trick so I didn’t have to add the tomato paste. I was hoping that I wouldn’t have to. When it was finished, it resembled a thick and chunky soup, so I took out a couple ladlefuls to puree. I wanted it to have a thick consistency, but still act as a sauce.

This smelled and tasted amazing! It ended up making 5 pint jars that I canned, sealed and labeled so they wouldn’t need to be kept in the refrigerator. When canning, you need to first sterilize the jars, submerge the jars and lids in boiling water, then fill the jars with sauce and cover asap. The top of the lid should be sealed under pressure so that air is not getting in. This process was quick since my 4 year old was at school, but I had to step over my 1 year old and keep her out of my sandwich bag drawer – which presented a different challenge.

Next time I cook spaghetti sauce, I don’t think I will cook it overnight – it made the house smell so good that it distracted our sleep. My husband is so excited to try it and is feeling particularly spoiled; I am thinking that I am going to have to make up another batch when this one is consumed. 

And I’m sure you won’t believe it, but I still have enough tomatoes left for a batch of catsup!