I needed a quick, easy way to preserve this years tomatoes because I reallllly don't feel like canning right now. (I can't believe I just said that.) Freezing whole tomatoes is a super fast option, but they consume SO much precious freezer space! Cooking the tomatoes down first is a little more work, but I think the amount of freezer space it saves you is well worth the (minimal) extra effort.
A couple of years ago I made tomato sauce the "right" way. (Also with tomatoes from my uncle. Aka, the tomato fairy.) After that, I decided tomato sauce was best purchased. Ahem. Cooking down the tomatoes, running them through the food mill, cooking the sauce down for HOURS....and that's before you've even canned it. Ain't no body got time for that! Well, I'm sure someone does. Just not me!
That got me to thinking...what if I put my Crockpot to work? I use it for applesauce and apple butter, why not tomatoes? A few weeks back I made a small batch of sauce in my Crockpot for dinner so I decided to give it a try on a larger scale. It worked beautifully! I've made two batches so far and plan to make a third batch tomorrow. It takes about ten minutes of prep time and ten minutes to finish up and freeze the sauce. That's my kind of preserving!
So without further ado here's my super easy "recipe":
12-ish tomatoes, washed, cored and cut up (enough to fill a 4qt Crockpot 3/4's of the way full)
1 - 6oz can of tomato paste
2 tsps salt
2 tsps sugar
2 tsps basil
2 tsps oregano
Place tomatoes in crock pot and add all of the other ingredients. Prop lid open with a wooden spoon so steam can escape. Cook on high for 6-8 hours. Blend (carefully!!) with an immersion blender and place in freezer containers. Allow to cool and freeze.
A few notes:
1. Yes, you leave the skin on the tomatoes. After the tomatoes cook down the skins will disappear when you blend the sauce.
2. This is not a seed free sauce. They don't bother us in the least and when you consider how much time it saves by leaving them in the sauce, they might not bother you either!
3. If you use glass containers to freeze in be SURE you leave headspace! I always leave at least 2" and only use wide mouth jars.
4. You could make this without any seasoning if you prefer plain tomato sauce. I like it seasoned and ready to go right out of the freezer.
So far each batch has yielded about 9 cups of sauce. I love having this (almost) ready made meal in the freezer for nights when I'm busy or don't feel like cooking. It is perfect for spaghetti, lasagna, or just about any Italian meal that needs a great sauce!
How is your late summer preserving going? Do you have any tips or tricks for speeding up the process?