20 lbs of tomatoes
2 cups chopped fresh onions (then sauté until soft)
3 clove of garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons diced, fresh OR dried basil
2 tablespoons chopped celery (optional)
3 Tablespoons of oregano
2 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 Tablespoons chopped red sweet peppers
1/4 cup lemon juice (helps to acidify it)
1/4 cup red wine ((optional) I think it really adds to the flavor)
If you like your spaghetti sauce thick add 1-2 cans of tomato paste.
A note about spices: Less spice, especially garlic and onions in canned sauce is better. They tend to strengthen and sometimes become bitter in storage. So use less when you prepare the sauce and add more when you actually use it, if you want!
Step 1. Remove the tomato skins. Here's a trick you may not know: put the tomatoes, a few at a time in a large pot of boiling water for no more than 1 minute. Then, plunge the tomatoes into a bowl of ice water. This makes the skins slide right off of the tomatoes! If you leave the skins on, they become tough and chewy in the sauce. Before throwing the tomatoes in boiling water, use a knife to draw an X on the bottom of the tomato just piercing the skin and carve out the top where the stem is.
Step 2. Remove the seeds and water. After you have peeled the skins off the tomatoes, cut the tomatoes in half. Now, remove the seeds and excess water. Squeeze each tomato and use your finger or a spoon to scoop and shake out most of the seeds. Removing just most will do.
Step 3. Drain the tomatoes by tossing into a colander or drainer, while you work on others. This helps more of the water to drain off. You may want to save the liquid: if you then pass it through a sieve, screen or cheesecloth, you have fresh tomato juice; great to drink cold or use in cooking! By draining the water off now, you'll end up with a thicker spaghetti sauce in less cooking time!
Step 4. Sanitize jars and lids. The dishwasher is fine for the jars; especially if it has a "sanitize" cycle. I start that while I'm preparing the tomatoes, so it's done by the time I'm ready to fill the jars. Lids: Put the lids into a pan of boiling water for at least several minutes.
Step 5. Combine tomatoes and ingredients above. Combine the tomatoes and spices together in a big pot. There's generally no need to add liquid, most types of tomatoes have so much water, we will need to boil it down to drive off much of the water to thicken the sauce. If your tomatoes are watery, boil it down before you add the spices, to avoid them becoming too strong. You don't need to overcook it; just bring it to boiling to sanitize it, mix the seasonings and cook down the tomatoes. As they cook, the tomatoes will fall apart into sauce with out much need of mushing!
Step 6. Fill the jars with sauce and put the rings on the jars. Fill them to within ¼-inch of the top, seat the lid and hand-tighten the ring around them.
Step 7. Process the jars in the canner by boiling. Put them in the canner and keep them covered with at least 1 inch of water. Keep the water boiling. Process the jars in a boiling-water bath for 35 minutes for pints and 40 minutes for quarts. This processing time is based on the Ball Blue Book's "Seasoned Tomato Sauce" recipe which is very similar.
Lift the jars out of the water and let them cool without touching or bumping them in a draft-free place (usually takes overnight) You can then remove the rings if you like. Once the jars are cool, you can check that they are sealed verifying that the lid has been sucked down. Just press in the center, gently, with your finger. If it pops up and down (often making a popping sound), it is not sealed. If you put the jar in the refrigerator right away, you can still use it.