Turning tomatoes into sauce

I have some basic knowledge of cooking, mostly acquired during my nearly seven years cooking for a nursing home. That left some gaps though, due mainly to the limitations imposed by cooking for a bunch of old people with no teeth who hate spices. So anyway, I could use some help on this one. Zenster, you out there? Anyone else?

Should be pretty simple. I want to turn a bunch of tomatoes into really tasty spaghetti-type sauce, since I already own them and that’s pretty much the only way I’ll eat them. The tomatoes in question are currently residing in my freezer. It would be a large bonus if the final product is also freezable. Suggestions?


I think Zenster is currently recovering from the BADs Super Bowl Party. I’ll step up to the plate and give you:

Basic Spaghetti Sauce ala pugluvr

3 tb olive oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped fine
3 garlic cloves, chopped fine
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 pound hamburger (or ground turkey, or ground lamb, or any combination thereof)
1/2 cup DRY white or red wine
2 quarts of tomatoes (it’s nice if they’re peeled and seeded, but if not, don’t sweat it)
1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
1 tablespoon Italian herb seasoning
1 tsp whole fennel seed
pinch curry powder
salt to taste

In a big skillet, saute the onions and garlic in the olive oil over medium high heat until they are translucent. Add the pepper flakes and saute a minute more, then add the ground meat(s) and saute, chopping the meat up, until the meat is cooked through. Then add the wine and let it come to a boil, add the tomatoes, mushrooms and the rest of the seasonings. Let it come to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, partially covered and stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes. Serve over linguini with lots of real grated parmesan cheese (DON’T use the stuff out of the green can!). Chopped fresh basil is fabulous as a garnish. Lotsa chianti and garlic bread and a big green salad are recommended accompaniments.

Atsamatta, you no like me, hey! Atsamatta for you!

You need a gadget called a “food mill”. It’s got like a metal colander bottom and a handle that you turn. You put the tomatoes in, crank it, and the pulp comes out through the bottom, leaving the seeds and skins behind.

What you end up with is just plain unsalted tomato juice and pulp. To turn it into spaghetti sauce, you have to cook it with herbs and stuff.

It is perfectly freezable at any stage in the proceedings.

If you’re using just plain garden slicing tomatoes, it’s going to be pretty thin, more juice than pulp. When you cook it, boil it down a bit. To get real thick sauce, you have to start with what’s called Roma or paste tomatoes, it’s a different kind.

You can’t do this with a food processor or a blender because you need a way to strain the seeds and skins out.

And a regular wire sieve (like a big tea strainer) is too fine a mesh, it’ll take you hours and hours to push the glop through.

Get a food mill. Check at upscale department stores.

Here’s a picture of a rather la-di-da food mill.

Come to think of it, it’s possible I’ve seen them at Wal-Mart.

$27 is too much, IMO, especially for something you’re not going to use that much (how many tomatoes do you have in the freezer?) They make electric ones, too, I see.

I did the same thing last summer, with about 30 pounds of tomatos. Tomato sauce is very freezable. Here’s what I did:

Peel and seed the tomatoes. This isn’t as hard as it sounds, and yes, you really want to do this, especially if you’re going to freeze the sauce. The peels and seeds are very bitter, and will be more so if you freeze & reheat the sauce. I took fresh tomatoes, cut a small ‘x’ at the bottom of them, and dropped them into boiling water until the peel at the ‘x’ started to come off. Take them out of the water and let cool, then slip the peels right off.

I’m pretty sure if the tomatoes have been frozen, simply thawing them will allow you to slip the peels off. Anyone have any experience with this?

Next, cut the naked termaters into halves. Using your finger or a spoon, scoop out the seeds. All the seeds sorta stick together, so this isn’t hard. As you’ll be mushing the tomatoes up, you can squeeze and rip the flesh to get the seeds out. This is actually kind of fun if you start thinking about how it could be the heart of someone you hate, not just a tomato.

Once you have 'em peeled & seeded, decide what texture you want the sauce to be. If you want it to be chunky, dice the tomatoes. If you’d rather have it smooth, put 'em in the food processor and puree them. I usually do about half and half.

To make sauce, saute some garlic and onions in a stockpot. Add the tomatoes and stir. From here on, you can improvise. I usually add basil & oregano, salt & pepper, and some red wine. You could also add some anchovies in with the garlic & onions. Sometimes I’ll throw some tomato paste in if I want more of a thicked, cooked style sauce. Allow the sauce to cook to the desired consistency - it’ll take longer if you added wine. Cooking can take anywhere from 10 minutes if you want a fresh-tasting sauce, to an hour or more if you want more of a cooked sauce.

You can freeze this sauce for a long time - I’m still eating the stuff I made in July, and it’s great.

You will need:

Some olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove (or more) garlic, crushed
4 (or more) tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
a few leaves of basil.

Saute the onions in the oil until soft. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or so. Add the tomatoes and simmer on low heat for 10 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened a bit. Tear up the basil leaves and stir them in.
Season to taste.

What Athena said :slight_smile:

While you can freeze tomatoes sauce in zip-lock baggies, but the “disposable” tupperware-iod containers are more reliable and as a bonus, stack easily. If there is no meat in the sauce, I usually let the sauce cool to room temperature and pour into the containers and place them in the freezer. If you are making various types of sauce, you might want to mark the containers with a water-proof pen.

Oh, thank you, DDG. I had no idea there was such a thing as a food mill. Sadly, I have spent a lot of time with a stupid sieve. I’ll look the next time I’m in WalMart! At least this summer, I won’t dread having a crapload of tomatoes turn ripe all at once!

You guys rock!

Athena - Yeah, frozen tomatoes leap right out of their skins once thawed.

DDG - Would not have occurred to me to use a food mill on tomatoes, though it seems rather obvious now. Thanks! I have about half Roma’s and about half tomatoes-I-forget-the-name-of, so hopefully I’ll end up with something not too thick and not too thin. I really can’t lose though; if it turns out good I’ll share it, and if it turns out bad I’ll hide it and eat it all myself.

Anyone who wants to try the final product is welcome to pop by my place in northern Minnesota (an imaginary state located near the North Pole) in a week or so.

If you like your sauce a bit sweeter and less acidic, adding a quarter cup of honey for every five pounds of tomatoes will make a mellower sauce.

DDG and Lowellster: I’ve been thinking of getting a food mill, too, since I love to make tomato sauces. I’m planning on growing a buttload of tomatoes this summer, so I guess I had better get shopping. P.S.: Out of all the varieties I’ve grown, I like “Celebrity” the best, because it has a vibrant, luscious tomato flavor and a high proportion of flesh to seeds and jelly. Hopefully enough of them make it past the salad plate to make a decent quantity of sauce! Oh, yeah, and gotta get a good planting of basil in at the same time.

FTR, I got my food mill at a thrift store for about $2. Quite a few people buy them and only use 'em once. (Just like the yogurt makers and waffle irons, lol.)