A truckload of tomatoes into 350 quarts of sauce Essay

If your garden is bulging with a bumper crop of tomatoes, or you want
to cash in on the bargain tomato prices that September brings,
here’s a story for you.

It’s about an Italian-heritage Western family, which for the
last 20 years has purchased a truckload of tomatoes from a nearby farm
and in just one day converted the tomatoes to sauce. The show is
orchestrated by Rosie and Joe DiPinto of Sacramento, with the help of
their seven children, grandchildren, and assorted relatives. The
reward: a year’s supply of great-tasting sauce for everyone.

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You may not need a whole truckload of tomatoes. We’ve scaled
down the DiPinto recipe to produce 1 gallon of sauce; make as many
batches of it as you want.

Through the years, the DiPintos have accumulated extra-large
kettles, set up extra cooking space in the garage, and modified some
simple equipment to handle the workload. However, you can get along
just fine with a knife, one or more 10- to 1-quart pans, and a food
chopper, processor, or blender.

To make a gallon of sauce, start with a peck (1/4 bushel, 15 lbs.)
of standard tomatoes, the kind of the DiPintos use. If you want to make
more sauce, you can chop and season all the tomatoes at once–but if you
want the freshest-tasting sauce, cook in the amount specified. (Larger
quantities take a lot longer to cook down.)

The tomatoes should be very ripe but need not be perfect. You
don’t peel or seed the tomatoes, but do cut off spoiled spots.

Can or freeze the cooked sauce in any containers you find
convenient to use. Use it as you would canned tomato sauce, or try it
in the home-style Italian dishes on page 127. DiPinto Tomato Sauce 8
quarts (abut 15 lbs.) very ripe tomatoes, rinsed 1/4 cup minced garlic
1/2 cup lightly packed fresh oregano leaves 1/2 cup chopped, lightly
packed fresh basil leaves 2 tablespoons wine vinegar 1 1/2 teaspoons
pepper 1 to 2 tablespoons sugar 1 to 2 tablespoons salt

Trim any spoilage from tomatoes. In a food processor, a food
chopper fitted with a coarse blade, or with a knife, chop tomatoes
coarse or fine.

Put tomatoes and juices in a large pan, at least 10 to 12 quarts.
Add garlic, oregano, basil, vinegar, pepper, and 1 tablespoon each sugar
and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat; reduce heat to
medium and boil gently, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until mixture
is reduced to about 5 quarts, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Scoop 3 to 4 cups of the mixture at a time into a food processor or
blender; process until pureed.

Return tomato sauce to pan and continue to cook, uncovered, over
medium heat; boil gently and stir frequently until sauce is reduced to 4
quarts, 30 to 40 minutes longer. Add sugar and salt to taste if desired
(the amount of sugar needed will vary with acidity of tomatoes). Makes
1 gallon.

To can, bring tomato sauce to boiling. Ladle hot sauce into hot
sterilized canning jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace for pints, 1/2-inch
headspace for quarts. Wipe rims and put scalded lids in place; screw on
rings tightly. Set jars on a rack in a deep kettle; add boiling water
to cover. Bring to simmering; simmer 15 minutes for pints, 20 minutes
for quarts. Lift jars from water and let cool on several thicknesses of

To freeze, let sauce cool to room temperature. Ladle easy-to-use
quantities of sauce (such as 1 cup, 2 cups, or 1 qt.) into freezing
containers, allowing 1-inch headspace for expansion. Seal and freeze.


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