August is the month when tomatoes are at their best. They are ruby red, cheap and plentiful. So, this past weekend was spent making home-made tomato sauce. It is taken from a simple recipe by B. S. Smith which we have modified over the years and the finished product has more texture and is not quite as sweet. It definitely beats the tomato sauce available on the supermarket shelves.
Tomato sauce is also known as ketchup, tomato ketchup and/or dead horse in Australian rhyming slang. (Here is a Wikipedia website which explains Australian rhyming slang) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhyming_slang
Ketchup became known as a dominant American condiment and yet it is probably fair to describe it as a dominant international condiment.
2kg (4 lb) ripe tomatoes
5 medium sized white onions, roughly chopped
1 or 2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1½ cups caster sugar
2 cups (16fl oz) red wine vinegar
Here is a visual step-by-step guide to making home-made tomato sauce.
Figure 1: Chop the tomatoes roughly, no need to peel or seed them as the mixture will be sieved. Place them in a heavy-based saucepan. Add the onions.
Figure 2: Add the garlic, salt, cloves, black pepper and paprika and simmer very gently for about an hour or until the tomatoes are quite soft. (Note that no liquid is added at this stage. There is enough juice in the tomatoes and as it is allowed to simmer very gently the tomatoes release their juices).
Figure 3: Add the sugar and vinegar and carry on simmering until the mixture thickens.
Figure 4: Put the tomato mixture through a sieve. Do not use a blender or food processor for this purpose, as you want the tomato skins and seeds to be separated and not blended and chopped into the tomato sauce.
The photograph above demonstrates the tomato skins and seeds left over after the mixture has been pushed through a sieve with a wooden spoon.
Figure 5: If the pulp is too thin, return it to the saucepan and carry on simmering until it is reduced so that it coats the back of a spoon.
Figure 6: The thickness of the tomato sauce is very much a matter of personal taste.
Figure 7: Here is the finished product. A lot of effort but well worth it.
Quantity: makes 8 to 9 cups
Storing and using: Preserve in bottles with plastic coated screw on lids or corks. Store in a cool, dark cupboard. Tomato sauce keeps well for 12 months.
Apart from the obvious uses with meat, tomato sauce can be added to casseroles or marinades and can be used as a glaze, brushing some over meat as it roasts.