The tomatoes are in their full glory right now. It seems that I can go out twice a day to pick them. No complaints on my part, other than finding the time to put them up for the winter. If you are lucky enough to have a Tomatopalooza at your place, here is a quick and easy tomato sauce recipe, to keep ahead of the bounty without wasting a single fruit.
Make sauce. No matter what the purists say, you can make sauce out of any tomato that tastes good. Keep it simple, and you can add all the extras when you open the jars this winter. To make a simple tomato sauce, wash your tomatoes and trim out the stem end/any blemishes that are visible. Over a deep bowl or sink, squeeze each tomato to remove as much of the seedy pulp as possible. This just cuts down on the time it takes to reduce the water in the finished sauce. Place the squeezed tomatoes into a large pot over a low flame. Cover to help them build up some steam and start to break down. Continue to heat, stirring every once in a while so they don't stick to the bottom of the pan. After 20 minutes or so, you will be amazed at how much water has been released. Remove the lid of the pot now, as you want that excess water to cook off.
The secret to thick sauce is a stick blender. Once your tomatoes are breaking down, the water is plentiful, take the pot temporarily off the heat and blend the entire thing into a thick slurry. The tomato skins will disappear, yet add bulk, resulting in a thick, flavorful sauce. Continue to heat this tomato slurry, uncovered, until it is as thick as you like. You can add seasonings like Italian herbs, salt and even sugar if you like that flavor. These will not change the final acidity of the sauce. If you are adding vegetables and meat however, plan to just freeze this. You can still can a sauce with meat/veggies, but it has to be done in a pressure canner.
To store, freeze in containers or can in quart jars in a hot water bath canner, for 15 minutes (quarts or pints). I freeze dozens of quart size freezer bags containing 3 cups each, and can quarts of sauce for the winter. For a smaller freezer, the frozen bags of sauce can be stacked neatly in the freezer, while a case of canned sauce will fit in the bottom of a closet or under a bed.
Note: If you are canning, the USDA now recommends adding a teaspoon of white vinegar to each quart jar of tomatoes. This is because there are so many hybrid varieties of tomatoes, picked before they are ripened, that the acidity is questionable. To be safe, just add the vinegar. There is not taste difference in the end product.