Justin and I woke up this morning (after a sort of rough night last night – keg beer never ends well) and had a busy day planned. We drove out to Jersey to his sister’s house, where her in-laws (off the boat from Italy) were having a sauce-making extravaganza. So, Justin donned his pink flowery house dress, I put on my apron, and we got to work. Jarring a whole year’s worth of sauce seemed like a lot of work and I was pretty excited to learn the whole process.
The Italian in-laws had bought 14 bushels of tomatoes, and made 160 jars of sauce last weekend. Today was a rookie sauce making day: only 3 bushels making 40 jars.
First, we boiled all of the tomatoes in a huge pot until their skin started to crack.
Next, we dumped them into a bucket and poked them with a barbecue fork to let out some of the water. We set aside four jars to make “pelatis,” the whole peeled tomatoes for chunkier sauces. After the boiled tomatoes were cool enough to handle, Justin and I got to peeling, slicing off the little stem spot on the top, and filling the four jars with the tomatoes and raw basil. The smell was amazing.
We put the lids on the mason jars, and then were taught to put them into a pot to boil, with a potato on top, in order to seal the jars to be air tight. When the potato was cooked, the jars were ready – about 20-25 minutes.
Then we got working on the rest of the jars of puréed sauce. They had a big machine that we had to dump scoop by scoop of tomatoes into, I think we filled two and a half 5 gallon buckets with the sauce by the end of the whole thing.
The machine got rid of all the seeds and skins, and the sauce that was in the buckets went back into that huge pot to boil and thicken. We put a sprig of fresh basil in each jar, and got to filling them all up.
The jars all got wiped down so that the rim was clean and the lids wouldn’t rust. After a few minutes of jarring we started to hear the pop of the jars sealing themselves, with the heat from just coming out of the boiling pot.
After the whole process, which took a couple of hours all together, we were treated to a homemade foccacia bread that was absolutely incredible… So light and olive oily.
The experience itself was amazing, getting to learn the process and especially getting to take some of the jars home to use for the whole year. But I have to say that my favorite part of the whole day was watching Justin’s sister’s in-laws, the older Italian couple who led and taught us the whole process. They were so excited to share the details of the whole process and to have us participate and help them. They were an adorable couple, speaking to each other only in Italian. The wife corrected her husband every single step of the way; and it was apparent that he understood she was, and is, always right.