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Healthy Homemade Tomato Sauce

August 26, 2020

I usually get a little melancholic as we approach Labor Day weekend, and the days of summer dwindle. Although my favorite season is coming to a close, I do look forward to the late-summer bounty of local vegetables available at farmers markets and from our own backyards. A sense of community is forged as my neighbors proudly share the tomatoes, onions, and basil that they had carefully tended to all season from seedling on. In turn, I share my creations made from their produce, one favorite being an easy, versatile homemade tomato sauce that’s great for pasta, pizza or dipping.

I know how to preserve produce using the hot water bath canning method, but for that, you need special equipment such as a canning kettle the size of a baby’s bathtub, and you’ve got to worry over pH levels or if adding an additional ingredient will alter the acidic makeup, rendering the final product unsafe for long-term preservation. Enter freezer preservation, which requires no special equipment except for a few freezer containers, and it’s a heck of a lot faster.

Making your own condiments such as sauce is more eco-friendly, since you can repurpose jars and containers, instead of buying packaged products that generate additional waste. Homemade sauce can be adjusted to personal preferences or dietary restrictions. Watching your sodium? No problem, just lower the salt content. Are you making the sauce for a meat lover? Add in some cooked, crumbled locally made sausage.

Tomatoes contain the antioxidant lycopene, and they contain vitamin C and K. Garlic is known to promote heart and cardiovascular health, and olive oil is a healthy fat. So during those dreary days of late winter, when we all crave reminders of warmer, brighter days to come, homemade tomato sauce made with garden fresh produce might not immediately transport us to a balmy backyard barbecue or a sandy summer beach, but it gets close.

Homemade Tomato Sauce

3 C. tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced*

1/2 C. onion, diced

2 cloves minced garlic

2 T. olive oil

salt, to taste

2 t. each chopped fresh basil, oregano and parsley

1 can tomato paste

Heat olive oil in a large pan or Dutch oven over low-medium heat. Sautee onion and garlic for about two minutes. Add chopped tomatoes and bring mixture to a slight boil. Turn down heat to low and add salt and herbs. Let mixture simmer, stirring frequently, until vegetables soften.

Remove from heat and let tomato mixture cool. Puree mixture in blender or food processor and return to pot. Stir in tomato paste and simmer until sauce thickens and reaches desired consistency. Let cool completely and pour into freezer containers. If using glass jars, be sure to leave about 2 inches of space at the top to allow for expansion during freezing.

*To easily peel tomatoes, use a paring knife to make a small X at the bottom of each one. Pop them in the freezer until frozen. Then run them under warm water, and the skins will slide off.

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