It’s a chilly, grey November day, and summer tomatoes are long gone.
But thanks to a recent day spent in the kitchen, I’m making spaghetti sauce tonight from local, late summer tomatoes.
John and I began hosting monthly spaghetti suppers in September last year, and making homemade sauce is one of my jobs for the night. I’ve experimented with various canned tomatoes and honed my recipe (based very loosely on the foundation of Frankie’s). Though my technique improves with practice, spaghetti nights in the summer, when tomatoes are at their tasty peak, feature some of the most delicious sauce.
Since I love eating local and supporting local farms, I decided to try canning tomatoes at the end of this year’s harvest. I’ve tried pickling once before and it worked, but I’m still a rookie with this whole operation.
I rolled my neighbor’s shopping cart to farmers market and bought 50 pounds of tomatoes. That’s five fully loaded plastic grocery bags of tomatoes. According to the Ball canning recipe, about three pounds of tomatoes go into each quart, so I bought two dozen canning jars and figured I’d have several leftover.
My friend Sara, also a canning novice, came over to share in the project. She smashed tomatoes into jars while I managed the boiling water bath that sterilizes and seals the jars.
Here’s the math: I spent $80 on tomatoes and about $32 on canning jars to end up with 23 quarts, which makes them just under $5 each in materials. That’s not counting all day of my time or several hours of help from Sara.
But it’s hard to put a price on the feeling of opening a jar of local tomatoes that I wheeled home from farmers market myself, and making homemade spaghetti sauce with tomatoes I know include nothing but salt, lemon juice and love.