It’s a sweltering day. The last thing that I want to do is to work in a hot kitchen over a steaming pot. But my tomatoes can’t wait.
Fresh tomatoes don’t store well. If put into the refrigerator they turn mealy and their flavor deteriorates. Right now I have a bag of garlic grown by a neighbor, oregano and basil bursting from pots, and a six sturdy tomato plants that are all producing record numbers of healthy fruit. I have to make sauce. Thank goodness for my slow cooker
Prep for this tomato sauce is super easy. All I have to do is cut off the cores and bad bits from the tomatoes (which I feed to the chickens, of course) and put the big pieces of tomato (or even simply whole, cored, tomatoes) into the slow cooker. (Crockpot is a trade name. Like “kleenex” and “tissues” the terms are interchangeable for all but the manufacturers.) I have two slow cookers. Neither are fancy. As long as it keeps the sauce simmering at a low temp, it’s the right appliance.
I add a bulb of garlic, peeled, and skinned and halved onions (also a gift from my neighbor, who happily went off to his vacation home with a carton of eggs.) I snip several branches of oregano and basil. If I have it, I’ll use parsley, too (but this year, the goats got to eat all of it as part of the frothy bloat remedy, which made it well worth not having parsley for the sauce!) I add a splash of olive oil and a good amount of coarse salt. Because I use a mixture of tomatoes, some of which are quite juicy, no additional liquid is required. In fact, if you want a thick sauce, use a good proportion of paste tomatoes. Otherwise, you might want to drain off some of the naturally occurring tomato water before the last step of milling.
The slow cooker then gets covered and ignored.
After six or more hours the tomatoes will have turned to a soft mush and it will all be simmering along nicely.
Turn off the pot and let it cool down so that you can work with it – and so that you don’t have to stand over steam – that’s the whole point of this method!
Note that I don’t worry about stems, peels or seeds. That’s because the next step uses a food mill. This tool pushes the sauce through a sieve. (Once again, those inedible bits go to the chickens.)
After twenty years of using the same awkward and difficult to clean food mill, I bought a new one. What a difference! The right tool does matter.
This is the end product.
I ladled it into plastic containers, and put those into the freezer. This winter, my pizza will taste like summer.