Canning Tomato Sauce at Pretty Bird Farm

Hey! It has been too long since we have updated the blog, but we are still here! We have been living life instead of writing about it! We are still growing the farm, still growing our little Violet and we added a new baby to the family! Wyatt William Kafarski was born on December 20, 2017!

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Burping the baby!

If you want regular updates, check out our Instagram feed! But without further ado, we bring you a new blog post from the Kitchen at Pretty Bird Farm:

How to Can Tomato Sauce

When we got married (long ago) in 2010, we gave away jars of tomato sauce that we canned ourselves in our sweltering hot Highland Park apartment. We used to hang a sheet between the kitchen and the living room when the stove was going all day, just to give the window unit AC in the living room a fighting chance.

 

Since then, our sauce and our techniques have evolved to become more efficient and create a better end product. And, now we are all grown up with central air in our little ranch on Pretty Bird Farm.

We get asked often how we can tomato sauce so I thought I’d put it down in writing so we can look back at our antique methods another 8 years from now and share what we are doing then!

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  1. Gather all your tools:
    • Canning jars
    • New lids and rings
    • Ladle
    • Big soup pot
    • Lemon juice
    • Tongs or jar lifter
    • Jar funnel
    • Tomatoes!!!
  2. Peel and clean your tomatoes: While peeling isn’t necessary I think it makes a nicer sauce. We have done this a couple ways and here they are ranked from slowest and cheapest to fastest and more expensive:
    • We first started making sauce peeling the old fashioned way by blanching our tomatoes and then dropping them into a pot of ice water. This gets the job done, but it takes a lot of time, and you will go through a lot of ice.
    • Then we upgraded to a hand crank food mill using a salsa blade. This works too, but hand cranking is a lot of work, and you have to find a place in your kitchen where you can attach the mill somewhere to your counters with a vice.
    • We recently purchased the vegetable strainer attachment that goes with our Kitchenaid Mixer and this has revolutionized sauce making for us! This strainer is surely the fastest method for squeezing out all of the pulp from your tomatoes and removing the skins. It also now gives us the option to remove seeds from our sauce!
  3. Cook down your sauce: Cook to the consistency that you would want it for a quick pasta dinner in the middle of winter. For us, this means cooking the sauce until it reduces by about half. We typically use a mix of paste and heirloom tomatoes and this is what works for us. If you are using exclusively paste tomatoes, your cook down process will be much faster! This process for us takes anywhere from 4-10 hours depending on how juicy our tomatoes are and how big of a pot we are starting with.
  4. Seal in canning jars :
    • Start off with clean jars by boiling to sterilize-even if they are brand new. Do not boil the lids. Jars can be used from year to year if they are undamaged, but you will want to buy new rings and lids each time you can.
    • Fill jars with sauce leaving one inch of headspace from the top of the sauce to the top of the jar. Add one tbsp of lemon juice for pints, two tbsp for quarts. Dip lids and rings into boiling water and seal your jars.
    • Process pints for 35 minutes, quarts for 45 minutes in boiling water. And ta-da you did it!
    • Pro Tip: Often canning projects in our house run over more than one day. When processing in a water bath, make sure you are not putting ice cold tomato sauce into a recently boiled jar. You risk the jar cracking, losing all your hard work and making a bigger mess to clean up.

Troubleshooting

If you burn the sauce: Hey it happens! If you notice some burnt bits from the bottom float up when you are stirring, don’t keep stirring them into your sauce! If you catch it soon enough, you might be able to save it. Sometimes it is just burnt on the bottom. Pour your sauce into a new pot leaving the burnt bits in the old one and get back to work.

If your jars don’t seal: Did you cook them long enough? Is the lid on straight? Try a new lid and reprocess!

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About Pretty Bird Farm

Pretty Bird Farm is a small family farm located in Delaware Township in Hunterdon County, NJ. We live our lives and manage our farm as organically as possible. Our chickens eat organic feed and only the best kitchen and garden refuse. Our veggies and flowers are also raised organically, pesticide free, fertilized with organic fertilizer.
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