Preparing Tomatoes

This is before all the water drains out.

This is before all the water drains out.

I have had a few people ask me how to make tomato sauce from fresh tomatoes.  Actually, the best tomato for sauce is the Roma tomato.  However, I like my deep red, juicy, sweet Rutgers tomatoes.  So there is then a dilemna.  Juicy tomatoes make runny, watery sauces.

That means a bit more preparation.  I core and remove all blemishes from tomatoes, and toss into my pot of choice.  A good rule of thumb is that ugly tomatoes make wonderful sauce.  You can get rid of the ones that won’t make good slicing or salad tomatoes, and the taste is still the same.  Cover the pot with water and bring to a poach, which is just below a boil.  The tomatoes will literally split their skins. I then drain out the water and place them in the large bowl from the last post. Then I leave them alone for a night or a few hours.  When you get back to them, they will be covered in water, and the water is released liquid from the tomatoes.

At this point, if you wanted to make stewed tomatoes for freezing, you can cut them up and toss into containers.  If you want to make sauce, there are a few more steps.  You can see that this is not a quick process.  Cut the tomatoes in half and then in half again.  Each piece should have a little fold where the seeds reside.  Take a knife and slide it along so the seeds will be able to drain out.  Take tomato pieces and place in colander in your sink while the seeds are draining.  There will be a great deal more water released from the tomatoes as well.  Tomatoes are 94% water! Again, I am referring to a “real” tomato and not the hot house variety, which taste like 94% cardboard.  Again, let them alone to drain; do something else for a bit, as this is a process.

Pick out the pieces of tomato for your sauce.  Discard the seeds remaining in your colander.  You may ask, “why not use the seeds?”  For the stewed tomatoes, you can, as they don’t have a long cooking process. However for a good rich tomato sauce, it simmers for a long time, and that would bring out the bitter taste of the seeds and it would leach into the sauces. 

The next part of this is going to be how to make sauce, so stayed tuned.  However, if a few of you are following this (and I had a few people ask me about it), and were curious how to get the tomatoes prepared.  I boiled 5 gallons of tomatoes, and wound up with 1 1/2 gallons of sauce.  That 94% water is what would make the sauce runny, so preparation is important.

Enjoy!

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