Our Favorite Tomato Sauce Recipe (And Water Bath Canning)

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I’ve always thought of us as having a pretty healthy diet. We rarely eat out, eat as much organic as possible, and make a lot of things from scratch. But back in March Austen’s doctors put her on a new Whole Foods diet, and it’s taken our eating habits to a whole new level.

Austen is very rarely allowed to have any preservatives or processed foods, in fact we try to limit ‘cheating’ to once a week. I feel this has greatly helped with her seizure control, but man is it tough! I can 100% say that before March I never would have considered making things like mayonnaise and ranch dressing from scratch. But I’m determined to give my family the same foods they loved before, but in a healthier manner.

And y’all my family cannot live without it’s pizza or spaghetti. It’s just not an option. But most tomato sauces are full of the preservatives that Austen isn’t allowed to have. And the ones that are free of them are way out of our budget.

So here I am, calling up my aunt to figure out just how we made all that tomato sauce from scratch as a kid. And spending two days preparing the two cases of tomatoes I found on sale at Sprouts (because who can beat .50/lb!).

I’m not going to lie, it was a lot of work. But I now have enough tomato sauce for an entire year, and pizza sauce for six months. So I’m considering myself the real winner in this situation.

Tomato Sauce:

You will need:

50lbs Roma Tomatos

3 Tbsp Salt

4 Tbsp Dried Oregano

4 Tbsp Dried Thyme

4 Tbsp Dried Onion Powder

4 Tbsp Dried Garlic Powder

Citric Acid

First, blanch the tomatoes in batches by first putting them into boiling water for one minute, then ice water for an additional minute. Once the tomatoes are all blanched carefully peel and core them (this should be easy once they are blanched). Place cores and peels in a bowl as you go through the tomatoes, these can be thrown into the compost when you are done.

Place tomato pieces into a blender and blend until there are no chunks, then place the tomato puree into a large stock pot. Once all tomatoes are all blended and put into the stock pot place pot on the stove and heat at a medium high heat until boiling.

When the tomatoes reach boiling add the salt, oregano, thyme, onion powder, and garlic powder to the pot and stir thoroughly. Reduce heat to low and allow the sauce to simmer until reduced by 1/3.

While the sauce is reducing wash out jars, lids, and rings with hot soap water. If you are going to do waterbath canning put the lids, rings, and jars into a pot of hot water to keep them warm until sauce is ready.

Once sauce is reduced dry off jars and sprinkle citrus acid on the bottom of the jar in the following quantities:

Pint Jars: 1 tsp

Quart Jars: 1/2 tsp

Small Jelly Jars: 1/8 tsp

Place sauce in jars leaving 1/2 inch of headspace, wipe off the rim, and place on the lid and ring. You can then freeze these jars (if they are freezer safe, and after they have cooled off) or you can  follow the directions below to do water bath canning to keep them good for up to a year.

** Note: You can also add sugar to the jars (in equal amounts to the citric acid) to counteract the acidity that the citric acid can bring. I choose to sprinkle sugar on my sauce after I open it, instead of before canning.

Water Bath Canning:

Water bath canning is my preferred method of canning. I don’t have a ton of freezer space to freeze my sauces (jars take up a large amount of space), and I’m scared to death I’d explode something in a pressure canner.

To water bath can you simply need-

For water bath canning you simply fill a large canning pot half way full of water, with the wire rack already inside, and place lid on the pot to allow water to simmer until jars are ready. Then using the jar lifter place the jars into the pot on the wire rack and fill the pot with more water until the water reaches 1 inch above the tops of the jars. Place lid onto the canning jar again and bring water to a rolling boil.

Once the water reaches a rolling boil start the processing time. For tomato sauce, this time is 40 minutes, but each recipe requires different times, and times go up depending on altitude.

When the time is up use the jar lifter to take the jars out one by one and place them upright on a towel to cool. Leave jars undisturbed for 12 hours to cool.

Before putting jars away test the seal by pressing down on the center of the lid. The lid should not pop up and down if it is properly sealed. Put all properly sealed jars away for future use, and unsealed jars can be kept in the fridge for up to a week.


Sick Day Soup

We just finished our second week in a row of having a house full of sick kids. First it was a nasty respiratory virus, and then a stomach virus made its rounds as well. This past weekend was filled with a lot of snuggles, many loads of laundry, and too many bodily fluids than I would care to recount.

We all know that with a virus there isn’t much we can do to speed along the healing process, rest, snuggles, lots of fluids, and bits of food are generally all we can do to help. When my kids are sick like this I find myself struggling to get something, anything, in them that will bring some nourishment without upsetting their little tummies more.

And so I give you my feel good soup. It’s simple, healthy, and tasty while not packing with too much flavor (to help keep the tummies at ease). But it feels good going down, I find that it’s just what my littles call for on days such as these.

Feel Good Soup

1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 lb stew beef, cut into bit size bits
4-5 cloves of garlic, minced
2 quarts beef broth
2 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
2 tsp Salt
1/2 cup of rice, uncooked
Parsley to garnish

In a 3qt dutch oven place olive oil, stew beef, and garlic. Brown on medium high heat for 2 minutes. Add water, worcestershire sauce, and salt. Bring to a boil on medium high, then lower to simmering. Cover and allow to simmer for two and a half hours. Add uncooked rice, stir, recover and allow to simmer for 30 minutes or until rice is tender and cooked through. Garnish with dried parsley and enjoy.