When a bumper crop of tomatoes are ripe, full and tumbling over it might be a bit of a challenge to keep up with, but wouldn’t you agree that they shouldn’t go to waste? If you find yourself in this predicament, consider sharing the surplus with your local food share program, with neighbors and friends or make marinara!
Nothing’s fresher than straight off the vine
Homemade marinara sauce that is prepared from the freshest garden tomatoes that are picked right off the vine packs a flavor full of zest and pizzazz which cannot be compared to the flavor, or lack of flavor, that store bought tomatoes and sauces have. Unless the market buys local food, much of the produce has traveled long distances to get to the shelves they sit on. Fossil fuels that could have been saved by shipping only local produce to town, are expended to drive across the country to make deliveries. Also, to make up for the time in travel, tomatoes are picked when they are green and ripen in their packaging just before they make their marketplace débuts. The multiple handlings and the length of time that the tomatoes have been off the vine leaves something wanting.
Get your simmer on
So get the sauce pan on the stove and start chopping up some tomatoes (and maybe some onion, peppers and herbs too). Making marinara from scratch is easy to do and you will find that 1-1 ½ pounds of tomatoes simmers down fast, leaving you feeling satisfied about not wasting your glorious tomato crop.
When picking tomatoes out in your garden, feel at liberty to choose more than 1 variety of tomato. Traditionally, the Roma or Marzano varieties have been used for sauces, but any tomato will do. Cherry tomatoes add a particular sweetness to sauce while green tomatoes supply tanginess. From experience, I have found Sun Gold tomatoes are especially good in sauce as well as Green Zebra tomatoes. If you’re not sure about your selections, take a few nibbles when you are chopping up your tomatoes.
Before you chop up your tomatoes, decide if you want to keep the skins on or off. If you don’t want tomato skins in your sauce you can submerge the tomatoes in boiling water for 1 minute, ladle them out and put them in ice water. The skins will slip right off when you cut through them.
Chop the tomatoes in half and set them in a hot sauce pan with a little oil in it. While you chop, keep adding tomatoes to the pan, allowing the tomatoes to reduce in size. As the mixture builds, you can take a potato smasher and crush the tomatoes further. The sauce will start to get watery and when this happens, adding a little cornstarch that has been mixed in with some water, thickens the sauce up quickly. Next, dash some salt into the recipe and any herbs that suit your palate.
Let the sauce simmer on low for several minutes or until it reaches a desired consistency. Thereafter, it can be served over pasta immediately or a smoother sauce can be achieved by pureeing it in a blender. If a lot of sauce is made, seal it up in pouches and freeze for future meals.