2 stoves, 2 bushels, 2 days, 52 jars of sauce

Last year, at the height of the holiday baking season, my oven stopped working. We bought a new stove and moved the old one to the garage.

This summer, my clever husband (with a little advice from his just-as-clever younger brother) modified an electrical outlet in the garage so I could plug in the old stove—which still has working burners.

Labour Day weekend, I bought two bushels of Roma tomatoes and spent two long days running up and down stairs from the kitchen, where I had as many as three large pots of tomato sauce cooking at any one time, to the garage, where I had two canners set up on my old stove.

I made two types of sauce: one with chopped onions, minced garlic, dried oregano, red chili flakes, black pepper, salt and sugar (inspired by this one from Bernardin); and a second with salt, sugar, minced garlic and a few fresh basil leaves.

The method was the same for both:
• Wash and chop tomatoes.
• Combine tomatoes and other ingredients in a large pot.
• Boil until thick. (At least a couple hours, depending on the tomatoes and the size of your pot.)
• Press sauce through a food mill to remove skins and seeds.
• Return sauce to pot, simmer until it reaches desired consistency.
• Ladle into hot, sterilized jars. Add lemon juice. (15 mL per 500 mL jar.)
• Process in water canner for 35 minutes.

At the end of two days, I had tomato splashes on every surface of my kitchen, sore calves and 52 jars of sauce lined up on a folding table in the garage. Beautiful.

I wish I had the photographic proof of this feat. But, as it was my first time canning tomato sauce, I felt I had to focus on the task at hand. And I had to move the sauce out of the garage, so David could set up his tablesaw to get started on the new hardwood floors. (Do we know how to spend week off or what?)

The top photograph shows a few jars I’ve used as decoration in my red-accented kitchen. (Storing all that sauce, along with dozens of jars of pickles, salsa, piquante sauce, relish, ketchup, plum sauce, apple butter, tomato jam, etc., requires a little creativity.)

The bottom photo was dinner on Wednesday: homemade sauce, along with some red peppers and hot Italian sausage meat, on spaghetti squash from the CSA.