Healthy recipe: Store sun-ripened tomatoes at the end of the season

Recipe by Leandra Rouse Photography by Sam Emmons

There are differences between homemade and canned tomato sauce – from taste to nutrition and price. You don’t need to be a canning expert to make a versatile tomato sauce.

Today we share one of our favorite preserved vegetables: sun-ripened tomato sauce. Early fall is the perfect time to buy very ripe (and nutritious and very tasty) tomatoes at a discount. These extra juicy fruits make the best sauces and are a staple in healthy home-cooked meals. This late-season tomato sauce will bring tomato flavor and nutrition to your cooking year-round.

Go to your local farmer’s market and ask about buying a flat of extra ripe tomatoes. They are often available at discounted prices and the ripe flavor is perfect for turning into a flavorful and nutritious tomato base. This recipe is for a simple and versatile sauce. So whether you’re making your favorite tomato-based pasta, curry or soup, this is a base you can take in many directions.

To make a smooth sauce (without all the work of peeling tomatoes), a food mill is a great tool to invest in to create the consistency. However, a powerful blender can get you close.

To store tomato sauce, use either glass mason jars, deli containers, ziplock freezer bags, vacuum sealer bags. Other more durable and convenient options include silicone soupers. Be sure to fill the container only 3/4 of the way to the top, leaving room for liquid expansion. A great tip for maximizing valuable freezer space is to freeze in bags in a flat position and then, once firm, store upright. Additionally, freezing a batch in an ice cube tray means you’ll have tomato concentrate on hand to enhance any recipe. Choose the storage method that best fits your kitchen’s capabilities and family’s needs.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large white onion

5 cloves of garlic

2 red bell peppers, cored and seeds removed

15 cups super-ripe tomatoes, cored and chopped (about 10 pounds)

2 bay leaves

Instructions:

To start, heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat, being careful not to let the oil smoke. Cut onion into X inch pieces. Add onion to pan, cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Finely chop the garlic and keep aside. Dice the bell pepper into X. Add the garlic and bell pepper to the onion in the pan. Cook all ingredients together for about 5 to 8 minutes or until soft.

Cut the tomatoes into quarters and add to the pan. Mix all the ingredients well and reduce the heat to a simmer or about an hour, partially covered and stirring occasionally. The total volume should be reduced by X. If the sauce seems too dry, add ½ cup of water at a time.

Close the sauce and let cool to room temperature. The sauce is now ready to use in your favorite recipe, such as pasta, topping pizza or stew or casserole. If frozen, transfer the sauce to a container of your choice and freeze.

If frozen, remove the frozen sauce from the freezer when ready to use and let sit at room temperature or in the microwave on the defrost function for about 1 to 3 hours. Heat in the oven and use as a base in your favorite tomato recipe.

Makes 8 pints or 40 servings. Serving size ½ cup per person.

Nutritional Information (per serving):

10 calories

0 grams of protein

0.5 grams of total fat

0 grams of saturated fat

Cholesterol 0 mg

Carbohydrates 1 gram

0 grams of fiber

0 grams of total sugars

0 grams of added sugars

0 grams of sodium

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