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Remember all those tomato plants I planted in the spring?  Well, they’re gone now.  We’ve said our goodbyes and parted ways.  They’ve found their final resting spot in the garbage “green” bin, and I’ve started to move on past tomato soup and pasta salad (e.g. pumpkin pancakes).  Yet, as a sort of standing tribute to the time we’ve had together this summer, I collected all the plants’ fruits and canned tomato sauce yesterday.  Now I can remember them all year and the fun, though brief, time we had together.  Tomato plants, R.I.P.

The Basics:

olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
a bunch of fresh basil, leaves picked and torn
3 x 400g tins of good-quality, whole plum tomatoes (or fresh if you have them)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Things I added:

A couple of glugs of dry Red Wine
A glug or two of Balsamic Vinegar
A Bay Leaf
A couple tsp. of dried Oregano
About 3 Red Chilies, Diced
1 Onion, chopped

(Adapted from Jamie Oliver)

For the sauce:

In a large stockpot, coat the bottom with a generous amount of olive oil.  Add the garlic, onion, and chilies and cook over med-high heat until nicely browned, about 5-10 min.  Then add the tomatoes, wine, and well, everything else.  Cook down for about 30 min or so and puree with an emulsion blender or food processor until just slightly chunky.  Season to taste.  Even with my amenities, this sauce is pretty basic and can be doctored up for just about any occasion (e.g. add crushed red pepper to add a nice kick and then throw in a handful of Parmesan).

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For the canning:

In your dishwasher, clean and heat dry your glass can bottoms (lids removed).  You can also sterilize them in a large pot of boiling water, but I find the first method much easier.  In a small saucepan, place the lids, just barely covering them with water, and bring to a boil.  Place an old (can get stained) dishtowel on the counter and with a sterilized funnel, ladle the sauce into the cans until it reaches about 1-2 inches below the top, sealing each one with it’s lid tightly before moving on to the next one.  If you find the cans to be too hot to touch while twisting the lids on, use an additional towel or wash rag to hold the base.  Once all have been filled and sealed, leave on the counter/towel until you hear/see all the lids pop.  The dot on top should be inverted if sealed.  This may take up to 24 hrs.  If any have not sealed completely (or you have any doubts), place in the fridge for immediate use, or the freezer for longer storage.  Now enjoy yourself some homemade tomato sauce throughout the rest of the year!

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