Old-Fashioned Tomato Sauce

by Country Spoon

With tomatoes dropping off the vine and your counter tops and window sills filling up, it is time to make sauce to enjoy  in the cold winter’s months. I feel like we wait all summer for that juicy tomato, but when they ripen, fall is just around the corner.  My mother and her mother and her mother’s mother and beyond always made this tomato sauce. Through generations, it really hasn’t changed and it has remained simple, delicious and fresh from the garden.  There is nothing like the smell of sauce filling your kitchen and welcoming cooler weather… Happy Labor Day!

Old-Fashioned Tomato Sauce:

1 large bushel of Roma tomatoes – ripe

1 head of garlic – minced

1/4 c. olive oil

2 handfuls of fresh basil leaves – torn

several bay leaves

2 t. salt

1/4 t. black pepper

In batches, halve tomatoes and pulse in a food processor until just blended.  If you like a smoother sauce, pulse more. In a large stock pot over medium heat, heat olive oil and add minced garlic when hot. Saute until opaque and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes and stir occasionally with large swooping turnover stirs for the first half an hour.  Skim off any orange foam that rises to the top. This is very bitter and will ruin your sauce if you leave it in.

Add in freshly torn basil and bay leaves. My mom always added more than one bay leaf and did not remove them from the sauce. I always loved the bay leaves, not to eat of course, but because very time I would find one my mom would tell me it was good luck. Add salt and pepper. Let the sauce simmer for several hours at a low boil. More foam will rise to the top, so continue to skim it off.  When the sauce is thick and sticks to the back of a wooden spoon, process in sterilized jars for about 10 minutes, cool and store.

A good estimate to when your sauce is done, is when it is reduced by half. This makes a great starter sauce to add fresh vegetables, meat and olives to later in the winter. It is also great on pizza – a versatile way of stowing and using up all those tomatoes!