Food Topic: Lotsa 'Maters
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I grow and cook with a fantastic tomato.  Locally it is known as an Italian Fat, but in actuality it is a German Paste tomato.  It is a very meaty tomato with few seeds.  Great for canning practically any sauce or condiment. A good percentage of the canned goods I put up each year are made from tomatoes. I have several different canning books and I use there basic guidelines for each of the items I process.  I recommend having at least one canning book available to reference when canning. 

Most of the following recipes don't have exact measurements because I don't generally follow a recipe when I make sauces and soups for canning and freezing.  It is all according to personal taste. I cook the sauce, taste, and re-adjust the seasonings as needed.  I don't like my sauces and soups salty, but highly seasoned with other spices and herbs. 

Aunt Judy's Authentic Southwest Salsa- find the recipe right here in the recipe index.  It is a great authentic Texas salsa and I highly recommend trying it.

 BBQ sauce- it has taken me quite a while to get this recipe down, because cookbook recipes generally start with ketchup and not fresh tomatoes.  Since I donít make ketchup, I needed to find the right combination of flavors so that the sauce wouldnít be too sweet or too vinegary.  I end up binding this sauce with a cornstarch slurry* to get the correct consistency that will cling to the meat as I baste with it. Another trick that works is to simmer the sauce w/fresh lemon after opening the jar; to remove the canned taste because it does have a bit of a processed taste to it, even though I made it. (works w/commercial sauces, too).  Now that I have discovered a good flavored sauce, do I still need to simmer w/fresh lemon before using?  I will have to try it before I know. 

Spaghetti/marinara sauce- very simple sauce- I have worked for years perfecting the taste and discovered that simplicity is the key.  Pureed tomatoes- I donít even skin my tomatoes anymore, I puree them in my food processor or blender, so I save boat loads of time not peeling!  I add a bit of tomato paste, fresh garlic- sometimes leaving the cloves whole, salt and pepper to taste and throw in a bunch of basil leaves at the end.  If you donít like water under your pasta on the plate, you will need to bind the sauce with a cornstarch slurry*.  I have tried everything from adding veggies like carrots, onions, mushrooms to adding tofu and none of it worked well for us.  If I am in the mood for a mushroom sauce, I will add the mushrooms fresh at the time.  By keeping the sauce very basic, the flavors are fresher and the sauce is more versatile.  I use this sauce for my spaghetti sauce, with stuffed shells, manicotti, lasagna, meatball subs, sausage subs.  Whatever I want to add to it.  Fantastic!

Chili soup base- cook tomato puree with fresh minced garlic, fresh chopped onion, chili powder, a bit of cumin and salt and pepper, simply add cooked meat and beans, and viola- soup

Taco sauce- tomato puree, cumin, coriander, chili powder, salt, pepper add cooked meat and simmer to the consistency you want.  There you have a quick taco meat for soft or crunchy tacos, taco salad, even a quesadilla filling

Enchilada sauce-enchiladas are time consuming to make, but if you have your own pre-made sauce, which is simply tomato puree, tomato paste, chili powder, cumin, garlic, oregano, salt,  bound with a cornstarch slurry*, makes enchiladas almost as easy as making tacos.  Just fill softened flour or corn tortillas with leftover cooked meat of choice: beef, chicken, turkey (why not?!) pork, some sliced onion, pour a little sauce on top, roll up top with more sauce and a bit of cheese. Bake.  Assemble the rest of dinner will they are baking and you have dinner in 45 minutes or less.  Better flavor, better for you, better on your budget, etc.  I am starting to sound like a commercial.  The hardest part of the dish is deciding on what kind of tortilla shell to use.  In general, I have used corn tortilla shells.  One time I didnít have them on hand, so I used the flour shells.  We liked them.  I didnít have to soften them before rolling and the integrity of the shell was firmer.  The corn tortilla shells get a tad mushy if I bake a bunch of them together.  

Cream of Tomato Soup base- this is really a nice product to make.  Remember dairy products canít be canned, thatís why it is the base.  Simply add milk at time of eating.  This is a bit more challenging because it requires roux in the recipe.  Roux is butter and flour mixed together and lightly cooked and then liquid is added and stirred until thickened.  Now, I donít use butter, I use olive oil.  I use twice as much flour as olive oil, cook it lightly before adding my homemade chicken stock, though canned would work, some chopped onion, tomato puree, salt, and pepper and chopped fresh basil.  Use 3 parts tomato puree to 1 part chicken stock.  To every cup of chicken stock, use 3 cups tomato puree.  I donít think it is necessary to be exact, just close.  For every 3 cups of chicken stock and 9 cups of tomato puree use ľ cup olive oil and Ĺ cup flour for the roux. I really like tomato soup and was beginning to become discouraged by the flavor of store bought soup.  I tried this recipe that was given to me and I will always make it myself, even if I have to use my canned tomatoes to do so.  The flavor is superb

Pizza sauce- this is a sauce that is still in the works for me.  We donít care for a sweet sauce, a vinegary sauce or an acidic sauce.  As more tomatoes ripen, I will work on this recipe.  If you have a great pizza sauce recipe made from fresh tomatoes I would appreciate if you would share it with me.  Email me at

Crushed tomatoes- simply blanch, peel and put up in quart jars.  I donít use these too often because of all of the other sauces I make.  On a rare occasion I will throw a jar of crushed tomatoes in with a pot roast or stew them with garlic and basil and serve over brown rice.


*(1 part cornstarch, 2 parts water, mix and stir into boiling sauce)



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