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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Fresh Tomato Sauce (and why to avoid canned)

There are a lot of reasons to avoid canned tomatoes, but if you want only one, let it be the bisphenol-A that is in the resin that lines the cans. Bisephenol-A (BPA) is a synthetic estrogen that is linked to many health problems. Because tomatoes are acidic, they leach the BPAs from the lining and it enters our food. Canned tomatoes can also contain citric acid (from corn!) and high sodium. Making your own is extra work, but if you have a little spare time on the weekend and a lot of tomatoes, you can make a batch for use throughout the week.

I don't have a formal or even informal background in Italian cuisine (I'm on the West Coast, if that tells you anything), so this is just some information on how I make my sauce. This is not marinara, or a final product even. This is a sauce I add to other recipes (like marinara, vegan jambalaya, curry etc.). The flavors are pretty mild to ensure I can mix and match across different cuisines.

8 cluster/vine tomatoes translates to about 2 1/2 cups of sauce, so keep that in mind when purchasing your tomatoes.

Peeling Tomatoes

Peeling tomatoes is quick and easy. It only takes about 30 seconds. First, put a pot of water on to boil. Once it get to a rolling boil, take a tomato and remove any green/leaves and score the tomatoes on the bottom and make a little "X":

Carefully lower the tomato in the boiling water and leave there for 20 seconds. The skin should start to visibly split up the sides:
Remove the tomato with a wide, slotted spoon:
Simply tug at the skin to easily peel by hand:

Making the Sauce

After the tomatoes are peeled, get a pre-heated 3 quart sauce pan and put a little olive oil on the bottom - just enough to prevent the tomatoes from sticking. Remove the hard area around the stem, and rough chop the tomatoes. Add 1 tsp of dry basil and a pinch of salt.

Stirring occasionally (I walked away and did a little blogging between stirs), let the tomatoes cook down until there is a thick consistency (about 45 minutes).

Tomato Sauce
yeilds appx 2.5 cups
8 tomatoes, peeled, trimmed, and rough chopped
1 pinch kosher salt
1 tsp dry basil
3 tsp olive oil

Use the olive oil just to barely coat the bottom of a 6-7 quart heated pan over medium heat. Add the other ingredients and cook, stirring occasionally for 45-60 minutes.

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