When it comes to preserving tomatoes, most people think that you have to go big. And while it’s true that during late summer it’s easy to get your hands on Romas and San Marzanos by the boxful, there’s also nothing wrong with thinking small.
Here are a few tips for scaling down those big-batch recipes to turn just a few pints of tomatoes into delicious sauce.
Throughout the summer, I make little batches of tomato sauce in my favorite frying pan and preserve them in half pint jars.
These tiny jars are great with pasta as a quick meal, but also work wonderfully as pizza sauce, soup starters, or as a dipping sauce for homemade garlic knots.
5 Tips for More Manageable Batches of Tomato Sauce
Here’s how you can get started making small batches of tomato sauce:
- Buy damaged tomatoes. Look for a couple pounds of cracked and slightly bruised tomatoes at your farmers market or local produce stand. They will be at least half the price as the perfect ones, and since you’re going to cook them, it’s easy enough to cut away any bad spots.
- Skin tomatoes the easy way. Even when making a small batch of sauce, you do need to peel the tomatoes. But instead of heating up a large pot of water to boil and blanch off the tomatoes, just bring a tea kettle to a boil. While it heats, core the tomatoes and cut them in half. Put them in a heatproof baking dish and pour the boiling water over the top. Let them sit for five minutes and drain. The skins should slide right off.
- Use a wide pan. Choose a wide, shallow pan to cook the sauce. The more surface area, the more quickly the sauce will cook down. As I mentioned earlier,
- Stay simple. Keep ingredients simple if you plan to can your sauce. Use minimal oil, and leave the garlic and onion out. A pinch of dried Italian herbs is nice. Add 1/8 teaspoon citric acid per half pint jar to ensure the sauce is safe!
- Skip canning and freeze instead! If you don’t want to can your sauce, freeze it! Funnel it into small jars and make sure to leave at least an inch of headspace to account for expansion.
What's Tomato Preserving 2.0?
When it comes to tomatoes, perhaps you've got the basics covered. You've made fresh tomato sauce, or roasted them, or thrown a bag in the freezer for easy peeling and sauce-making later. So what's next?
This week Marisa McClellan of Food in Jars is guiding us through Tomato Preserving 2.0 — cooking lessons and good ideas for when you're ready to move on to the next level of preserving tomatoes.
Learn the Basics
(Image credits: Marisa McClellan)