We may be enjoying summer temperatures this week in mid Michigan but only four more days and it’s official; Fall is here. Although my skin is feeling the humid heat my eyes definitely see the evidence of the changing season.
I have been pulling, cutting, and pruning, drying and freezing. I have to keep up as things die out and die back for the winter. It is a busy time inside my house and out. My garden has now reached a size where I can no longer leave much cleanup for spring that could have been done in fall. I would not survive the stress of fall cleanup along with all the chores of spring.
I really do try to keep to the old adage, “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” I am thankful God has blessed me with energy and drive for the things I love to do, gardening being one of them.
Today I have spent the afternoon making homemade tomato sauce and cutting up green peppers for the freezer.
The green peppers are easy and don’t take too long. Pick, wash, deseed, chop, bag, label with year and freeze. The task is easily worked into the day. I did this about six times this harvest.
The tomato sauce is also easy and oh what fun! But it is a bit time consuming. Preparation can take an hour, more or less. I like to make it with as much garden fresh ingredients as I am able. That is the fun. Then I cook it for about three hours before letting it cool.
For the tomato sauce, I just barely cover the bottom of my stew pot with Bragg’s organic olive oil. This is the highest quality and most delicious olive oil that I know of. I chop four or five large cloves of garlic, saute them in the oil on medium heat until they begin to brown and then turn the heat off. This adds a nice flavor to the garlic. I let the oil cool a couple minutes before adding my tomatoes.
To prepare the tomatoes, I wash approximately 10 of them and place them in a pot of boiling water. (These are large Roma tomatoes)
When the skins start to peel, I use a spoon with drainage holes to remove them from the boiling water and I place them in a bowl of ice water. (Water and a tray of ice cubes)
When picked up the skins slip right off. I cut them in half and rake any seeds I see out of them. There will still be some seeds left but that’s okay. They then get blended on food chop in my blender and from there are poured into the stew pot on top of the olive oil and garlic.
The heat comes back on low.
Fresh basil leaves go in next. Depending on size, I cut two or three entire stalks of basil. I strip the good leaves leaving behind any yellowed or spotted ones. I then hand tear the leaves as I drop them into the pot.
Oregano follows. I use fresh when I can, dried when I have to. I use quite a bit. Love the flavor.
Must have onions. The onions I’ve used this fall have come from my garden. They came with the house. Not sure what kind they are but they form more like a shallot and always make my eyes water when chopped. If I didn’t have these I would probably use a whole large vidalia.
Coriander: I add about a tablespoon.
Today I also added one medium green pepper, chopped. I made this sauce a week ago and added one chopped yellow squash, from my garden of coarse. It was very good but I chose not to add squash today. If you decide to make this sauce, build it to your own taste. You may add any vegetable to your liking. Olives too! I like the kalamata.
Salt: I rarely use salt for anything. However, tomato sauce needs salt. I add to taste. This would differ for each individual liking. I’m sure my tomato sauce would be considered very low sodium. When you don’t usually eat it, it doesn’t take much for you to detect it.
The sauce simmers for about three hours. About half way through the simmering process I taste it. I may add more salt, dried oregano, dried basil or dried garlic.
I use it now or let it cool and freeze it. Or most often, both!