Saturday, September 19, 2015



Fresh, delicious, ripe tomatoes…some successful Sitka gardeners have been skilled enough to grow their own.  I, as yet, have not.  So I was excited to test the quality of Azure Standard’s tomatoes after their travels on the barge.  Azure clearly states the following on their website:

We do our best to ship quality produce to Alaska and Hawaii, but due to unknown conditions at the barge lines, we cannot guarantee the quality on arrival.

I ordered a case of their “Tomatoes, Canning #2, Organic” (QP193) with the intent to make pizza sauce to can for the winter.  Azure provides the following produce description:

Rated #2 because of variable size and there may be small blemishes, but mostly excellent quality.  I found that statement to be pretty accurate.  Even after spending an extra day in the shipping container due to late barge arrival, the tomatoes were surprisingly in good shape!  There were probably a handful that had more bruises and spots than I’d like, but overall I was very pleased with the quality…perfect for canning! 

Here is a great pizza sauce recipe that I found.  I follow the proportions pretty closely due to the need to maintain proper acidity for canning, but I modify the spices to my tastes and what I have on hand.  I have found the homemade sauce is worlds above any of the commercially produced sauces and results in a fabulous pizza!

Roasted Tomato and Garlic Pizza Sauce, from Simple Bites food blog

This sauce is musky, gentle, and robust.

12 pounds paste tomatoes
2 teaspoons salt, maybe more
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 head garlic
3/4 cup green pepper, rough dice
1 cup onion, rough dice
1 jalapeno, rough mince
1 tablespoon each dried oregano and dried basil
2 tablespoons sugar (see variations below, the carrot substitution is great!)
citric acid, bottled lemon juice, or vinegar

·      Cut the top off a head of garlic making sure the tip of each clove of garlic has been decapitated. Set the head of garlic on a piece of foil, drizzle the top with a smidge of olive oil, and wrap it up tightly.
·      Wash, core, and halve the tomatoes. Toss them with ½ cup olive oil, 2 teaspoons salt, and the black pepper. Divide the tomatoes between two large, sided baking sheets. Nestle the foil-wrapped head of garlic on one of the trays.
·      Roast the tomatoes at 400 degrees for about an hour, rotating the trays as necessary. Some of the tomatoes will blister a bit—this is good.
·      While the tomatoes are roasting, sauté the green pepper, onion, and jalapeno in 2 tablespoons olive oil until tender and translucent.
·      Dump the roasted tomatoes into a large stockpot.
·      Unwrap the garlic and squeeze out all the yummy mush. Add the garlic and sautéed veggies to the roasted tomatoes. Purée the mixture.
·      Add the spices and sugar. Simmer the sauce to thicken, if necessary. Taste to correct seasonings.
·      Ladle the sauce into pint jars, add acid, and process the jars in a hot water bath for 20 minutes at a gentle rolling boil.

Yield: approximately 5 ½ pints

·      Sauté a peeled diced carrot (or two) with the onions and peppers and when very tender, proceed as normal. The carrot thickens the sauce even more, adds extra nutrients and natural sweetness (you can completely omit the refined sugars), and turns the sauce a bright orange-red.
·      Add a couple cups of zucchini when sautéing the onions.
·      Other fun seasonings: marjoram, fennel, smoked salt, thyme, etc.

Notes on Acidity & Quantities

While tomatoes are quite acidic, certain additions such as olive oil, fresh herbs, and other vegetables will neutralize the sauce. So don’t get too carried away. Think proportionally: about 8 parts acidic tomatoes to 3 parts non-acidic additions, plus a shot of extra acid to keep it safe.

For extra acid, simply add 2 tablespoons vinegar or bottled lemon juice, or ½ teaspoon citric acid (found in the canning section of most grocery stores), to each quart. To pints, reduce those amounts by half.

Submitted by Jen Mac Donald

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