Adventures In spaghetti sauce land
About two weeks ago we got 6 bags, 55 oz each, of good tomato puree for 1.99 / bag. Man, what were we to do with all this tomato puree? 330oz, or 10.3 quarts, is a lot of puree and thankfully we had our Presto roaster/slowcooker, It holds 22 quarts so naturally we decided to make a ton of spaghetti sauce. I whipped out the handy Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. And said, well shoot that is a great start, but the recipe calls for whole tomatoes and I do not know how to convert from whole to puree?
This was a conundrum I was well suited to fix. You see, I spent many days at the heels of my father, the chef; and my Great Grandma, who lived on a farm (born and raised, then as an old school farm wife) for the first 1/3 of her long life. So the knowledge on how to make spaghetti sauce was an easy thing, but canning was where I was lacking! How long? What method? You know, the very basic information needed. In comes Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving to the rescue. Found out the very easy to follow specifics on page 405 of the spiral bound version I have. Now armed with a loose recipe and knowledge to can this mass of tomatoes, away we go!
Speed bumps in the road
With a mass like this we were unprepared to tackle the mission at hand. Sure we had the tomatoes and the roaster/slowcooker To our dismay, we have all this puree and a vessel to slow cook the heck out of it, but nothing else. But we lacked empty jars, herbs, half of the meat, garlic, and last but never least, the cheese. WinCo Foods to the rescue. They have a great selection of bulk items, including herbs and spices. So the very lovely and talented missus Garden of the Geeks ran off to get some herbs, etc. She got Basil, Oregano, ground beast, some hardened cow milk Parmesan style (sadly this was not in the bulk area), & 4 large lovely green bell peppers. What about Garlic you say, well that came from the local Asian market. They have the best prices on garlic! It was 4 Dollars for a pound of peeled and cleaned garlic. Heck yeah, it is also on the way home – another bonus for the overworked Mrs GotG!
After a trip to the old Costco right next to the WinCo Foods to get a bag of large tasty white onions for 6 dollars, we began. First we added the puree to the roaster/slowcooker and it was full. Oh man I was getting worried we would not get it all in there but on with it anyways. Next dumped the herbs in, about 1/8 cup each, pressed 20 cloves of garlic in (could use more to be honest). Let that cook at 200 on the slow cooker overnight to permeate the flavors all throughout and some evaporation to occur. Thank goodness we did as it gets kinda scary later on. At this point it was time to brown all 6 lbs of ground beef, and cut the 4 large Onions and bell peppers into tiny little pieces. Thank God for my Hamilton Beach Food Processor & Vegetable Chopper it made short work of the veggies.
At this point it was starting to make my whole house smell super tasty. Now the real challenge: fitting the 6 lbs of ground beef and the 2 lbs ground pepperoni into it ..Yeah that was not happening!
This is where I used my children as guinea pigs (insert evil laugh). I scooped about 2 quarts worth out and added some of the meats to it and made spaghetti dinner……It was a hit, they loved it! And as a bonus, with the sauce I scooped out of the way, I could add my meats to the cooker, and let it slow cook overnight one more time.
The next day we started the arduous task of canning it. We have a nice large All American Canner .It will can a lot at one time but in this case we had more than even it could handle. It has a capacity of 14 wide mouth quart jars – that was almost enough. But it takes almost 3 hours to can one batch once you figure in time to come up to pressure and time to naturally depressurize and cool down enough to handle. So after 2 runs we were done and all of them sealed, all 18. So with the 2 qts we used and these that was 20 total quarts. NICE! We came in at about $1.20 / jar when all was done. This is a great cost for good healthy spaghetti sauce, no artificial junk in it.
Thus ends our adventure. Would we do it again, you might wonder? The answer is a resounding HECK YEAH.
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