Let me disclaim that making your own spaghetti sauce is not less expensive than buying it in the store, and it REALLY isn't more convenient or easier or faster. However, when you see the ingredient list you'll notice there isn't anything secretive like "natural flavor" or other "ingredients that are natural or naturally derived" like this one. And there's just something amazing about growing your own food, and then making something with it.
Almost everything in these jars of spaghetti sauce came from our garden--from the tomatoes and green peppers to the basil and oregano.
Of course, there are things we didn't grow too--like black pepper and salt and brown sugar--but at least those are 'natural flavors' I can identify!
I debated long and hard this morning about making salsa instead to use up those lovely jalepenos, but the truth is my kids don't like salsa very much. It looks too much like vegetables. I like it, but a girl can only eat so much salsa by herself. Spaghetti, though, they'll eat.
I wish I could say you just dice up everything you want in your spaghetti and stick it in a pot, but I learned the hard way last year that tomato skin is unappealing on top of pasta. It rolls off into these noticeable clumps and my kids definitely turn their noses at noticeable clumps. What am I saying...my kids turn up their noses at tomatoes, much less their peeled rolled skin. So you've got to boil the tomatoes for a minute, then shock them in cold water, then peel off the skins before you can dice them. That takes some time.
Though I'm growing green onions and red onions, I didn't grow vidalias so I bought some at the store. If I lived in Georgia, I'd totally be growing vidalias.
For some reason my red and yellow peppers ended up being green, but it's all good....
These guys come from the little herb garden right by the patio off the kitchen.
After you boil and peel and dice and chop, it all gets tossed in a big heavy pot with the spices and a bit of tomato paste.
And it cooks for an hour into a lovely sauce like this.
I love those chunks of pepper and tomato, but if I served it like this to my children I'd find those chunks pushed to the edge of their plate when they finished their meal.
So I'm sneaky.
I use my immersion blender a bit, until most of the chunks are blended in. Try picking those green peppers out NOW! (maniacal laughter)
We take our victories however we can.
I use a wide mouth funnel to get the sauce into jars. I might have taken 30 pictures of the jars like this. They just looked so garden-y and fresh, and they smelled so savory and Italian!
Unfortunately I still haven't picked up a big stock pot, so to process them in boiling water for 30 minutes I had to lay them on their sides in the biggest pots I own. Note to self: buy a stock pot. I made that note to myself last year, too.
It isn't 'correct' but it still works.
Case in point:
My own creation!
12 cups tomatoes - peeled and chopped (I used Romas)
2-3 cups green, red, or yellow peppers
3 cups sweet onions
2 T chopped garlic
fresh oregano and basil to taste (I used about 15 leaves of basil, and pulled the leaves off of about 10 branches of oregano)
24 oz tomato paste
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 T salt
2 T vinegar
1 T black pepper
Wash all vegetables. Boil water in a large pot, then add in tomatoes and allow to boil for about a minute. Transfer the tomatoes to another large bowl of ice water, and the skins should peel off pretty easily by hand. Then dice the tomatoes into small pieces. Dice the peppers and onions, and mince the garlic, oregano and basil. In a large heavy pot, add the diced vegetables and all other ingredients. Stir and bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for one hour. If you wish, use an immersion or other blender to incorporate the vegetables if you have picky eaters, or leave the vegetables chunky as they are.
Using a wide-mouthed funnel, ladle sauce into clean, hot jars, leaving about an inch of space at the top. Add lids and secure with rings. Place the jars in a large pot, covering completely with water. Bring the water to a low boil and process the jars for 30 minutes. Remove and place on wire cooling racks. You should hear the lids "pop" as they seal. When they are entirely cool, store as you wish.