By Kathryn Washburn Breighner
Canning is very easy and it allows me to have complete control over what goes in the jar. When fruits and vegetables are plentiful, canning stocks my pantry shelves at low costs for a quality product.
There are several ways to make marinara sauce: peeling the tomatoes and cooking the sauce and ingredients down to a thick stage resulting in a chunky sauce; peeling the tomatoes and cooking down and then running them through a food mill to puree and remove seeds; and my cheater method--filling a huge pot full of tomatoes, unpeeled and uncored, cooking until slightly soft and running them through a food mill. The result is a very thin tomato sauce that is then cooked down.
I use a Victoria food strainer that sends the juice down a chute and the tomato skins and seeds out another side. I put the seeds and skins back through the strainer several times to get even more juice.Then on the stove this large pot of tomato sauce went for several hours. I cooked it, stirring often, until it was reduced by 25%. I started with 1/2 bushel of tomatoes that I bought for $7.95 at the market. Then I added:
6 medium onions, chopped
6 green peppers, chopped
12 cloves of garlic, minced
1 c fresh basil
1/2 c fresh oregano
salt and pepper to taste
6 cans tomato paste
The sauce continued to cook down another 25% to a thick sauce. To each hot pint canning jar, I added 1 1/2 T lemon juice--needed to balance acidity levels. The sauce was cooked in the canner for 35 minutes. And the result? 15 pints of gorgeous marinara sauce at a cost of about $1 a jar.