The Most Expensive Tomato Sauce I’ve Ever Eaten
For my birthday, I was a nerd and asked for a Pressure Canner. The hubs delivered. I got the All-American 15 1/2 QT Pressure Cooker/Canner… the thing is a beast. It should be, for $330 marked down to $174.99!
Of course now that I had a new Pressure Canner, I had to make something. I set my sights on tomato sauce. One, because I HATE store bought sauce and two, because I’m afraid of the BPA that leaches into all things canned tomato. Thus, I started on my journey of making the most expensive tomato sauce I’ve ever eaten.
Saturday I hit a farm stand and got myself a whole bushel of tomatoes for $15.00. I’m leaning on that as my “steal” in this whole process. Honestly, that is a TON of tomatoes. I also grabbed some garlic and onions – $5.00 more. The other ingredients I had at home, so I caught a break with a few freebies. (NOTE: Based on this paragraph, you should see how cheap it actually is to make sauce and how I’m being facetious with my title.)
Once I decided on sauce, I needed a way to easily make it. If you’ve ever canned tomatoes, you know there is nothing worse than standing over a pot of boiling water to help take the skins off then seeding them by hand. No way was I doing that… then cutting them into miniscule pieces to cook down. Therefore, I ordered a food strainer. (Amazon Prime is a dangerous thing to have at my disposal.) The Victorio VKP250 Model 250 Food Strainer and Sauce Maker cost me $47.97 and arrived at my doorstep before I could even borrow one from a friend.
From start to finish, the sauce took over 24 hrs to make. No, I’m not exaggerating. We started on Tuesday night at 7:00 pm with the cleaning, straining, cutting and separating. We strained 3/4 of the bushel and put it in a roaster to simmer and cook down overnight. The other 1/4 I removed the skins and seeds and left them whole so the sauce would have some texture; I threw them in the fridge overnight.
The next morning at 8:00 am, I turned the heat up on the roaster to really let it cook. I threw in my whole tomatoes from the fridge. Inevitably, I also took 1/2 of my whole tomato reserve and diced it – giving me a good variety of tomato chunks in difference sizes. Into the roaster, I threw in 2 whole garlic bulbs that I cloved and chopped up and sautéed in olive oil with 2 whole onions that were chopped as well. Seasonings included Italian Seasoning, chicken bouillon, salt, pepper, and sugar to taste. Before I jarred it, I also threw in fresh basil from the backyard.
I let the sauce cook down until around 5:00 pm. By that time, it was super chunky and most of the water in the tomatoes had disappeared. I started to can. I come from a family where my mom, best intentions at heart, often strikes illogical fear into you when she deems something even somewhat unsafe. The entire time I was using my pressure cooker, I heard her voice saying “Pressure cookers can explode with no warning and burn your face off.” After reading the safety manual two times through, and processing two white-knuckled batches of tomato sauce, I now find this to be completely false. You have to be a complete idiot incapable of following giant warning labels, operating a terrible canner to have this problem. Anyways, by 9:00 pm the next night (Wednesday), we had finally finished our sauce making process.
The end result, 11 qts of tomato sauce. (Yes, I was disappointed too – all that lead up for 11 measly jars.) If you add up my costs of the canner, strainer, ingredients, etc… I paid roughly $23 a jar. The husband looked at me when we were all done and said, “Just think, in a few short years we will recoup our costs and be rolling in it from all the money we save on sauce at the store.” He is a positive(ly sarcastic) fellow.