This is the season of tomato “seconds.” Anyone who knows how much time and effort it takes to grow tomatoes (and how hard it is to defend them from squirrels and chipmunks) appreciates even the tomatoes with minor blemishes and imperfections. Tomatoes can stay on the vine till the first frost. After that, tomatoes can still ripen on the window sill for a few weeks. This time of the year, tomatoes are far from perfect, but they are perfect enough for being turned into very easy-to-make tomato sauces. You will be happy to find them in the freezer when January rolls around.
Not So Perfect Tomatoes Are Perfect!
“Seconds” can be purchased from a local farmer or farmer’s market by “flats” for a very reasonable price, this time of the year.
What Is Lycopene?
Tomatoes may be one of a few vegetables that are healthier cooked than in their raw state. Cooking tomatoes activates lycopene, a powerful antioxidant, which only becomes bioavailable when tomatoes are processed with high heat. Lycopene protects against cataracts and macular degeneration.
If your backyard animals are also after your tomatoes as mine are, you can pick unripened tomatoes as the first sign of “color” appears and let them ripen on a sunny window sill. Check them every couple of days – but do not squeeze them!
The first step in this tomato sauce is roasting them. Cut ripened tomatoes in half, place then cut-site down, drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt.
Roast tomatoes on bake or broil according to your oven settings for 20-30 minutes.
Move tomatoes to a pan a cook for another 30 minutes with the lid ON (so the liquid does not evaporate) until more tomato juice is extracted and tomatoes start to fall apart.
Let the tomatoes cool a little (in case they splash), and in batches, move them through a food mill. Skins and seeds stay in the top part and can be discarded, and the juices stay in the bowl.
Tomato sauce has a bright red color and pleasant tomato fragrance. When the sauce is cool enough to handle, place it in jars to be used within a couple of weeks in the fridge or freeze for the winter to be used in cooking and added to various dishes.
This sauce can be frozen for up to a year. It could be turned into tomato soup, add it to vegetable soups or use for flavoring roasted meats. The sauce could be further enriched by adding garlic, onions, and spices. Some tomato sauce experts even add a piece of butter at the end of cooking, saying that butter reduces the acidity of the tomatoes resulting in a more creamy sauce.
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