Tomatoes for spaghetti sauce?

kr222(6b)December 16, 2008

I was wondering your opinions on which tomatoes are best for making spaghetti sauce. Also, are there any heirloom tomatoes that you prefer for spaghetti sauce? Finally, any help you can give me on locating a great recipe would be appreciated.

Thanks everyone.


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I make sauce with whatever tomatoes are available, and have found that the bigger variety of tomatoes, the better the sauce. Throw in some black, green, yellow, and red tomatoes! I have also tried sauces with just orange fruits, and just black fruits, but have found the mixed colors produce the best sauce.
I throw all the tomatoes in a pot and cook them until soft. Then I pour off the juice, and put the tomatoes thru a food mill. Add some sauteed garlic (lots), onions, basil, and maybe a little wine and cook until thick. I also add salt, pepper, sugar oregano, thyme, and hot pepper flakes to taste. Each batch will be a little different, (as will be the tomatoes you use) so sometimes I don't need much salt or sugar. Experiment a bit, and you will come up with a recipe that works for you.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2008 at 10:09AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Hi Kim - here is a link to several previous discussions on tomatoes for sauce. You might want to browse through them for suggestions and recipes. Also check out the Harvest Forum here and we have many discussions there on making tomato sauce, canning tomato products, recipes, etc.

Personally, we make sauce using all our various tomatoes varieties but if you want to restrict yourself to only paste varieties for some reason then both Opalka and San Marzano are excellent.


PS: if you will be canning it be sure to review the current approved guidelines at NCHFP

Here is a link that might be useful: Tomato sauce discussions & reicpes

    Bookmark   December 16, 2008 at 10:16AM
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I've never made my own sauce before, but I want to try. I like the idea of using tomatoes of all types and colors in the sauce. I'm not sure if there are certain kinds of tomatoes that are better to work with or taste better than others when it comes to sauce...

    Bookmark   December 16, 2008 at 10:46AM
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camochef(zone 6)

I find that my favorite tomatoes from the gardens make the best sauces. I particularly like a mix of Pink Brandywines, Cherokee purples, and Caspian Pinks, but any tasty heirlooms will do. I find adding paste types help to reduce cooking times. Such as Opalka's, San Marzano's, and Roma's as they have less juice to simmer out. The important thing is to keep your heat low, stir constantly to keep from burning and ruining an entire pot. Good Luck!

    Bookmark   December 16, 2008 at 11:03AM
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tom8olvr(Z5 MA)

I make sauce from any tomatoes that I can't eat fresh (ie
too many)...

I really like Opalka for anything related to pasta... Any
oxheart with a good seed/meat ratio is very good too - but
as stated above I'll use anything!

Opalka is also great in a tomato/basil/buffalo mozzarella

    Bookmark   December 16, 2008 at 12:28PM
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I made awesome sauce this season with Early Kus Ali and Hong Yuen--they were phenomenal croppers and so good at it that out of self-defense I bought a big pressure canner and put up gallons and gallons of sauce.

I do add some garlic either fresh or roasted, chopped onions, maybe some carrots, and I used lovage (but only a bit) for a celery flavor. After I've browned all that in the pot--with PAM instead of oil, then I toss in the tomatoes and genrly boil down for a few hours. When it's looking and smelling "right" I ladle it into the food mill and puree the sauce. It goes back on the fire to adjust the herbs, I have some BP issue so I don't add salt to the sauce.

Yellow toms make great sauce, but I've always combined my yellow fruits rather than make a single-variety batch. One of the very best yellow sauces came from a blend of Yellow Perfection and Garden Peach. This year I used Huang Se Chieh and Early Ssubakus Aliana and made Yellow Sauce with Ground Turkey---yumyum in the tumtum--I have a case of it downstairs in my utility room ;-)


    Bookmark   December 16, 2008 at 12:43PM
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I've never even tasted a black , yellow, or green tomato. That's why I'm not sure they would taste alright in a spaghetti sauce. I am going to grow some next season though. That's why I'm asking. Perhaps I'm thinking too much into it. Camo, maybe I'll just toss in a mix of whatever is ready at that time and see how it turns out. I will think about growing Opalka though. Adding in a few of those into the mix may save me a little cooking time overall. That would be worth it.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2008 at 1:53PM
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Opalka, yes! Romeo from Peters Seed Research is another huge, dense, nearly seedless (but not as tasty as the smaller Opalka) tomato ... great for cooking sauce. Polish Linguisa, it you don't grow Opalka or Romeo.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2008 at 3:47PM
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I haven't grown any of them...yet. Opalka was mentioned a few times so far, so I looked it up. Sounds like a great one. I'll have to look up Polish Linguisa also. Thanks for the tip.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2008 at 5:41PM
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appaloosa909(6b Central NJ)

I cut my tomatos in half, squeeze out the seeds and buzz them in the blender, skin and all. Cherries get thrown in the blender whole.
I pour the puree into a ziplock bags and freeze. They are stacked like books in the freezer. Come January/February I pull out a "book" or two. Chop some onions and garlic and sweat with olive oil in my huge deep fry pan. Add the frozen "books" of tomato stuff put the lid on and let melt. cook for hours. As it gets thicker I add dehydrated tomatos crushed (I dehydrate until crispy), oregano, basil, sugar to taste, maybe some grated carrots, celery salt and fresh or frozen parsley.
Tastes better in the winter than in the summer when I have tomatos coming out my ears :)


    Bookmark   December 16, 2008 at 6:07PM
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Saw this 15 minute sauce @

about 2lbs of fresh tomatoes
a clove or two of garlic
about 1/4 cup of olive oil, you can use less
salt to taste
about a half tablespoon of balsamic or sherry vinegar
a few turns of the pepper mill
fifteen minute sauce, with tomatoes, olive oil, salt and pepper, oh, yes, and a bit of garlic
I let the tomato pulp cook very quickly in the pan, just until it releases the juices, then fish out the meaty pulp with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl for later, then let the juices cook down to the consistency you like, then add the pulp back in and season. This way you'll get a lovely, thick sauce with a super fresh tomato flavor. Now lets begin! Bring water in a large pot to a high temp below a slow boil. turn off While water is heating make a cross mark at the bottom of each tomato Next, place tomatoes into the pot of hot water place tomatoes in and let sit for just a minute or so, until you can see the skin come a little loose at the cross mark. Rnse quickly, in cold water. You can leave the hot water in the pot if you want to make pasta to go with your sauce. With a small knife, peel the skin from the tomatoes. It should come off very easily. With the tip of a knife, cut around each green crown and remove it. Discard the crown and the skin. Squeeze the tomatoes into the sink to release excess juice and push out the seeds. Put the tomato pulp in a bowl, crushing roughly with your hands to break it up into small chunks. You'll have a few seeds remaining, which is no big deal. NOW In a large saute pan, add a bit of olive oil and chopped garlic Add the tomato pulp into the pan. Add a big pinch of salt. Let it cook for about a minute or two, until you can see the pulp breaking down and releasing the juices. Use a slotted spoon to pick up the pulp and put it into a bowl, leaving the juice in the pan. Cook down the watery juice until thick, for another couple minutes. Check the seasoning.HINT you can cheat by adding a bit of balsamic or sherry vinegar and a bit more salt to your taste add a bit of red pepper flakes if you want a kick! Once the sauce is thick enough Add the pulp you removed earlier back into the pan. Stir to mix well. Turn the heat off and check the seasoning again.add another glug of good olive oil in it for some freshness too.If you're doing the pasta thing. Drain the cooked pasta and throw the whole thing into the pan with the tomato sauce. Toss everything around a bit to mix well, taste it to see if you need a bit more salt or pepper, or a bit of vinegar even. Turn off the heat. Throw in a handful of basil leafs. super fresh tomato flavor. Nice, yeah?

Here is a link that might be useful: 15 mjn Sauce

    Bookmark   December 16, 2008 at 6:41PM
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Andrea, That's a great idea. I love the idea of just freezing the tomatoes and making the sauce later. Depending on how much time I have around harvest time I'll either do that or make the sauce all at once. I love the tip on how to peel a tomato. Much more simple than what I was picturing. Thanks geeboss.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2008 at 6:53PM
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Slice your rinsed-off fresh tomatoes in half. Extract the seeds and some gel for fermenting. Put the tomato halves in Ziploc baggies and store in freezer. When thawed for use, the skins slide right off and you have all meat, no skins, no seeds ... no junk you don't need.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2008 at 9:34PM
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camochef(zone 6)

I didn't think to mention, A victorio strainer, thats what it was called 30 years ago when we bought it, I think they're called something else now. I think Lehman's carries them among others. Has different screens and augers. you can do bushels of tomatoes in no time at all. Removes seeds, skins cores, just crank them through. Then simmer in pots upon stove, don't add anything else, cook down as much as you can stirring often. The "sauce" can then be canned by boiling water canning. Once canned, store in cool, dark place. When using: just empty canning jar into pot, add garlic, onion, oregano and/or whatever spices along with sausage, meatballs or ground beef and you'll have a great sauce. The Victorio strainer saves hours of processing time and we'll make 28-35 quarts of sauce in a day. Doesn't take up any freezer room, and you don't have to worry if your electric goes out in an ice storm! We have red, pink, yellow, and even black sauces lining shelves. and the black and black/pink mixes seem to get used up first. With the victorio strainer you can even dump in hundreds of cherry tomato's (I use sun-golds and black cherry's) and add their juices to your sauce. I also make my own pasta's, especially a slow cooked pork/mozzerella/ ricotta cheese ravioli that's fantastic. I'll spend the better part of a day making them, but I end up with that days dinner, and about 6-8 more dinners of them in the freezer, where you just have to put your sauce on and dump frozen ravioli's in boiling water for five minutes or so.Quick, delicious meals during the week. Enjoy, and good luck!

    Bookmark   December 16, 2008 at 11:31PM
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A victorio strainer. I've never heard of that. Sounds like it would save tons of time. I'll go look up Lehman's right now and take a look. Thanks.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2008 at 8:13AM
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camochef(zone 6)

I just checked their site myself, It's now called Lehman's best food mill, be sure to get the accessary kit with extra screens and augers in it! It's a canners necessity! Lasts forever too!

    Bookmark   December 17, 2008 at 8:25AM
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I've been trying to post this for about an hour. It keeps rejecting it.
I found the product you were talking about. It's called the Lehman's Best Food Mill. It looks like a great product. A bit too pricey for me since I only have room for about 12 plants. I have less than a 1/4 acre to work with, but I try to make the most of it. I wanted to post the link in case anyone else was interested.

Here is a link that might be useful: Lehmans' Best Food Mill

    Bookmark   December 17, 2008 at 9:08AM
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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

Am I the only one who leaves the seeds in? LOL Yes, I take the skins off but after that it's just a matter of cutting up the fruits into pieces, throwing them in a large kettle, adding any other ingredients I want to and simmering them until the sauce is at the consistency I want.

Then cool down the sauce and put it in plastic freezer containers or even directly into freezer bags and in the freezer they go until wanted.

I'm one who prefers to use almost anything except paste tomatoes b'c I think others have a MUCH better taste, but I do use Opalka, Martino's Roma , Heidi and Mama Leone on occasion, and I can recommend those four OP paste varieties highly.

Carolyn, probably a sauce reject for leaving the seeds in, but so be it and so what. LOL

    Bookmark   December 17, 2008 at 9:47AM
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I've been looking in catalogs and online for a great tasting paste tomato to grow next season. Of the three that seemed to stand out were Opalka, Martino's Roma, and Amish Paste. Carolyn, any feelings regarding Amish Paste? I figure I'll grow whichever one I come across first as long as they're all pretty good. I'll have to look into Heidi and Mama Leone also. As of now I think I'm leaning towards Martino's Roma since I don't have lots of room to try many different varieties all at once. I'll look up the other two you recommend right away. Thanks.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2008 at 10:23AM
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jwr6404(8B Wa)

Check out the Ardwyna Tomato. It's an Italian variety and you can read about it on

    Bookmark   December 17, 2008 at 11:01AM
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Jrw, I'll go look it up right away.

Carolyn, the other two tomatoes you posted look great too.

Now the hard part, deciding among all of these.


    Bookmark   December 17, 2008 at 11:44AM
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zeuspaul(9b SoCal)

I won't be growing any paste tomatoes this year. I agree with Carolyn that the taste just doesn't measure up.

This year I will grow Maremmano again for sauce. The size is just right to fit the throat of my tomato strainer without having to quarter the tomato. And it is a good tomato for sprawling which saves me some labor.

The best eating tomatoes generally make the best sauce. Too small as in the good eating Sungold and there is too much labor involved.

My eating tomatoes which will be the same as the sauce tomatoes will be First Lady, Sioux, Supersonic and new trials for me Goliath and Arkansas Traveler.

I put the tomatoes in a power tomato strainer which removes skins and seeds. Long gone are the days of boiling water and dipping tomatoes. I make a lot of sauce so I try to find the most efficient way.

Then the sauce goes in a stainless pressure cooker. Once the pressure reaches 15 psi I shut it off. Then pour the sauce in a strainer and the water runs off leaving a very thick sauce.

Then I simmer in a large stainless stockpot. I have used a 20 qrt pot. This year I am looking foward to trying my new 50 qrt pot so all the sauce will be in one place.

I simmer on a Cadco (Broilking is the same) electric cast iron covered side burner. It is thermostatically controlled and the heat is very even. You still have to stir but not as often as with most other cooking options.

Then add a lot of carrot puree. I use a food processor for the carrots. Add a lot of fresh minced onions and chopped bell pepper. A hint of cayenne pepper. Some basil and thyme and a little marjoram. I almost forgot the red wine and garlic and probably a few other ingrediants.


    Bookmark   December 17, 2008 at 11:46AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Just a reminder that while freezing your sauce is the ideal, if home canned - especially if you added lots of other low-acid ingredients as listed above - additional acidification of all tomato products/sauce is required for safety purposes. This is because tomatoes are considered a borderline low-acid food when it comes to home canning.

The standard recommendation is 2T of bottled lemon juice per quart, 1T per pint.

This is all detailed at the NCHFP link I provided above.

And kr222 - again I strongly encourage you, if you plan to do any canning, to come on over to the Harvest Forum as that is where discussions on home food preservation are going on. You'll also find many discussions there on the various types of food mills, chinois, Foley mills, etc.


    Bookmark   December 17, 2008 at 11:56AM
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austinnhanasmom(5 CO)

I leave the seeds in!! Although I am still figuring out which tomato varieties to use, I love the idea of mixing. I mixed the three or four varieties I grew last year but some were earlier then others so I froze them until more were ready. I have also found that canning the sauce is labor intensive and it's better to do a large batch. I probably canned three times last season.

Here's my recipe: Note: The recipe calls for San Marzano tomatoes, but I've used other varieties...even yellow pear without removing the skins.

1) Boil water and preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2) 15lb San Marzano Tomatoes, washed with a "X" cut into bottom
3) drop tomatoes into boiling water until skins start to pull away from tomato flesh
4) cut tomatoes in half and place, with juice, into lightly olive oiled glass baking pan, flesh down (not critical)
5) repeat until pan is full
6) drizzle olive oil on tomatoes
7) place in oven on center rack and roast 45 minutes
8) flip tomatoes and roast another 45 minutes or until caramelizing begins
9) remove from oven, remove skins and process/blend to desired consistency

Using plain water, pour 10 pints of water into a kettle and note the water level. Remove the water.

  1. add tomatoes to kettle

  2. add this seasoning to the tomatoes: 3/4 cup olive oil, 9 cloves garlic - minced, 2 tablespoons crushed red pepper, 1 tablespoon salt, 2 tablespoons dried basil, 2 tablespoons dried oregano

  3. reduce sauce a bit to make about 10 pints of sauce

When I can this, I add 2 tablespoons of bottled lemon juice and 1 teaspoon of canning salt (adding directly into jar) per quart of sauce. (Add half of each for a pint) I leave a 1/4" of head space per jar.

I have read that adding too many ingredients prior to canning could affect the chemical characteristics of the sauce, perhaps allowing microorganisms to grow. Growth of bad bugs will ruin the sauce. Add more ingredients to the sauce AFTER opening the canned jar, NOT before. You MUST read about canning for yourself before you attempt to can your sauce. I did extensive research before making this recipe and I suggest you do the same.

Using non-paste tomatoes will increase the liquidity of the sauce. San Marzano tomatoes are not overly juicy. Roasting the tomatoes concentrates the sugars. It adds a lot more work to the task, but I find it's worth the effort. I have made sauce without roasting the tomatoes and my family preferred the original recipe.
Skins can be removed prior to roasting but I've found that it can be difficult to remove the skins on less then ripe tomatoes prior to roasting. After roasting, the skins are much more easily removed.

Last season, I used San Marzano Redorta, Yellow Pear, Mama Leone, Viva Italia, Giant Valentine, Golden Roma.

The only two from above that I'll grow next season for sure is Mama Leone; maybe Giant Valentine.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2008 at 12:06PM
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I don't think that I'll be canning the sauce. My mother-in-law swears by it, but with two young kids it would be tough to find a good chunk of time. Most likely I will be freezing the sauce.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2008 at 12:20PM
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I started canning a few years back with advice from the Harvest Forum....they're very nice people and very savvy on food safety.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2008 at 12:23PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

austinnhanasmom - you may want to note that the use of any oils in products to be home canned is prohibited for safety reasons. Oil in the recipe insulates any bacteria (including botulism spores) and prohibits the heat - even if pressure canned - from killing them. "Growth of bad bugs" can do more than ruin the sauce - it can kill you. ;) That is why it is important to restrict low-acid additives as they change the pH of the sauce and it is that pH that is vital to safety in long term storage.

Since 1976 the USDA has stipulated that any oils, fats, butters, etc. can only be safely added AFTER the jars are opened for use.


    Bookmark   December 17, 2008 at 12:44PM
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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

Carolyn, any feelings regarding Amish Paste? I figure I'll grow whichever one I come across first as long as they're all pretty good.


Kim, I don't see Amish Paste and being a paste tomato b'c it's too juicy.

You could use it with other non-pastes if you wish, just cooking down the whole mess to the desirred consistency.

Lillian's Red Kansas Paste is another one that isn't a paste type at all, again, much too juicy.

Traditionally paste tomatoes are supposed to be very meaty, very few seeds and most are on the dry flesh side.

I think some varieties have paste as part of the name b'c the the shape of the variety reminded someone of some pastes they might have grown before.


    Bookmark   December 17, 2008 at 1:20PM
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Amish Paste is off my list then. Therefore, I've made up my mind. Since I only have room for one kind, Opalka is the winner. I looked up a lot of sites and pictures, and the reviews seem very positive. Opalka is what I'm looking for. Thanks for all your help. Now I'll have to keep my eyes open for seeds!

Thanks everyone! You're a fantastic resource.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2008 at 2:15PM
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zeuspaul(9b SoCal)

Just a reminder that while freezing your sauce is the ideal, if home canned - especially if you added lots of other low-acid ingredients as listed above

Thanks digdirt for the safety note. Draining water off tomatoes may reduce acid levels and more bottled lemon juice may be required than recommended by the NCHFP in their various recipies. I would be careful draining off water and then using NCHFP recs for bottled lemon juice as it is a variation in procedure which may reduce acid levels.

additional acidification of all tomato products/sauce is required for safety purposes.

NCHFP recommendation for tomato paste requires no lemon juice and is processed in a boiling water bath. I assume the acid level is increased as they boil down the sauce to get the paste which may be why lemon juice is not required even in a high density tomato product processed in a boiling water bath.

NCHFP Tomatoes with Okra or Zucchini requires no lemon juice. (pressure canned)

NCHFP Spaghetti Sauce (pressure canned) requires no lemon juice and has a little oil although it's probably safer to stay away from oil all together.

The NCHFP rec for lemon juice is to reduce processing times for tomato products and maintain the quality. Not all tomato products require lemon juice as noted in the above NCHFP recipies.

I always freeze or pressure can my sauce. I wouldn't recommend anyone else pressure can as there is no published processing time so you would have to come up with your own processing time which requires knowledge of food processing principles.


    Bookmark   December 17, 2008 at 2:43PM
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austinnhanasmom(5 CO)

Thanks Dave for the info -

I definitely don't want anyone to get sick from my recipe...

In the future, I'll keep the oil from my sauce when canning. I guess it's not necessary anyway.

Freezing the sauce works great too.

Great posting and great suggestions:)


    Bookmark   December 17, 2008 at 3:31PM
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Which is better for freezing sauce? Ziplocs bags, containers, both? I want to preserve the flavor without having freezer burn ruin it.

Does anyone know how many months it will last in the freezer?

I think that covers all of my questions...for now. :)


    Bookmark   December 17, 2008 at 4:22PM
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suze9(z8b Bastrop Co., TX)

I use ziplock type bags to freeze my sauce, make sure they are the thicker freezer bags. Containers could also work, but I really do prefer quart sized bags as I can lay them down book style in the freezer and make the best use of the space. They also thaw much faster than sauce frozen in containers. Plus, if you just need a wee bit of sauce, you can open up a bag and easily break off what you need w/o having to thaw the entire bag. I also freeze my pesto the same way for similar reasons.

I've found that sauce frozen in ziplocks keeps its flavor just fine for 6-8 months, could keep even longer for all I know, but we always use it up in a few months or so.

My favorite way to make tomato sauce is to cut up and roast the tomatoes in the oven, quartered or halved depending on the size. I don't peel or deseed, as all this gets run though a good food mill when done. I do cut away any bad spots or rough looking shoulders, tho. A lot less stirring and watching involved than cooking them down on the stove, and I think the flavor is much better.

I add LOTS of garlic and basil, oregano, some olive oil, a few peppers - usually jalapeno, ancho or similar. Maybe an onion or two. But - you can really add whatever you want, these are merely suggestions. We like spicy food, hence all the garlic, and the warm peppers. As Trudi mentioned, a few carrots can be a nice addition, too.

Throw all this in the oven in one or more roasting pans at 425 to 450F, stir/check occasionally. I use a handheld potato masher to smush them up once they start cooking down - seems to speed things up a bit. I prefer to cook my sauce down to an almost tomato paste consistency, but you can leave it a little looser if you'd like.

When cooked down to the desired consistency, run through a food mill and put in freezer bags.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2008 at 6:32PM
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spiced_ham(z5 OH)

Seeds in sauce don't bother me either but some people get digestive problems from them, (diverticulitis?). I don't notice a bitter taste from seeds or skin. Seeds have a little flavor if you bite into them but it isn't that bad.

I cook down tomatoes for freezing a couple of ways, the easiest is to core and halve them at the equator to check for bad spots, squash the halves into a large pan and let cook down. That way the pieces of skin are large enough to pull out with a fork while they are cooking.

If I want to take longer prepping them and less time cooking them down, to reduce juice I'll par boil them to loosen the skin and then squash them into a large-holed plastic noodle strainer (collander) and stir them around to let alot of the juice and seeds run out.

I cook them down until a dry area follows the spatula as I stir (I use a large deep sided nonstick skillet), then they go into a gallon ziplock frozen flat so that I end up with a frozen square about 1-1/2 inch thick. These then stack much better than if the bag is filled to bulging.

I then use the "stewed" tomatoes to make sauce or chili etc. It seems silly to make the seasoned sauce before freezing.

I don't grow varieties for sauce and so only use eating tomatoes. I group them by color so I get green sauce, orange sauce, yellow-white sauce, and red sauce. Cooking tends to alter the flavor so that different varieties do not taste as distinctive as they did raw, but do have slightly different flavors, none out of the ordinary. The only sub standard sauce I got was from cool weather flavorless tomatoes of all colors at the end of the season. If you are worried about flavor add some tomato paste. I find that its distinctive flavor masks the tomatoes quite a bit.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2008 at 6:32PM
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zeuspaul(9b SoCal)

I use Pyrex rectangular glass storage containers for freezing. They stack well in the freezer, refrigerator or the pantry. The rectangular shape is more space efficient than round containers so you can fit more in the same amount of space.

You can use them in the microwave. I bake pumpkin custard in them and then store in the refrigerator in the same container.

I like the 11 cup size the best. I generally get them for $6.50 or so. The 11 cup size gives you the most storage for the buck. I fill about 8 cups to leave a little headroom and to avoid food contact with the plastic cover.

The six cup size is also useful for smaller serving sizes. I find the 3 cup size less useful but I have a few.

I also freeze in pint size wide mouth canning jars with plastic caps. They fit better on a door compartment in the freezer.

I prefer glass because it is reusable and I prefer not to store or heat my food in plastic.


Here is a link that might be useful: Pyrex storage

    Bookmark   December 17, 2008 at 8:13PM
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Wow. I'm writing so much of this down.

So far I think I've decided that I will be using the Ziploc freezer bags to make the best use of my space.

Most likely I will leave the seeds in the sauce. I eat tomato sandwiches all the time in the summer, and they were never a problem. Can't say I really noticed they were there at all.

I will want to grow one or two paste tomatoes to make the sauce a little less juicy to start with. Opalka, Martino's Roma, or one of each. It'll depend on what seeds I find.

Finally, I need to get a food mill. A Mother's Day gift that I can share with my mother-in-law for next year. She's a canning fanatic with a much bigger garden than I have. We'll put it to good use.

I am learning so much for you all. I think my first attempt at making my own sauce is going to go really well. Now I need to go back through and write some more stuff down in case this thread gets erased before next season...


    Bookmark   December 18, 2008 at 7:52AM
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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

Seeds in sauce don't bother me either but some people get digestive problems from them, (diverticulitis?).


That used to be the understanding but was disproved many years ago.

The lining of the GI tract normally has wee pouches and it used to be thought that small seeds such as strawberries or tomatoes or the like could get in those pouches and cause problems.

And still in these times I see some folks who ask for tomato varieties with few seeds b'c they have either diverticulosis, which can lead to diverticulitis or have the latter already.

But anyone can do a Google search and prove to themselves what I've just said,that is if the site has up to date information, and I'll say it gently, but anyone who has a gastroenterologist who still adheres to that theory might consider contacting a different gastroenterologist.

And it isn't a digestive problem per se, which is usually associated with the stomach, it's a GI problem and the end results, pun intended, can be very troublesome. ( smile)


    Bookmark   December 18, 2008 at 8:29AM
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tom8olvr(Z5 MA)

I'm not a fan of frozen tomatoes. I'd love to be a fan b/c
it seems so much easier... I feel they kinda break down
in the freezer where canning tomatoes or canning stewed
tomatoes or sauce seems to keep them better (?). I'm not
sure if that's true or not But that's my preference. I'm
pathetic in that I LOVE the way they look all jarred up
in my pantry! Secretly I love the smell and the
condensation on every window of the house (from the water bath).
I'd love to try Bill's idea of just cutting and taking the
seeds out and freezing them with skins and all! I may just
do that when I can't find time to can... And no, Doc
Carolyn you aren't the only one who keeps in the seeds. I
keep them in unless they're in abundance or if I wanna save
a few seeds! :)

Again, Kim, I would like to plug oxhearts and opalka
(sounds like you've decided on yeah!) again. Oxhearts are
very meaty and great for canning - as is opalka - but the
difference between these and other 'paste' toms is that
they taste fantastic. What you DON'T eat fresh (b/c these
are fantastic fresh) you can can.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2008 at 9:26AM
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suze9(z8b Bastrop Co., TX)

I didn't mention it in my earlier post, but I just use whatever I have piled up on the counter for sauce as others do. Some may happen to be meatier types, and some may not. Really, anything decent I have an excess of goes into the queue when I am in the mood and have some time to put up some sauce.

Side note - my "fantasy" (lol) is to make a nice batch of sauce entirely from Prue. :-) I may grow an extra plant or two next year just so I have plenty to try this out.

As for seeds in fruits/veg, my understanding is that although they were once thought to be a problem for folks with diverticulitis, that has since been disproven as Carolyn mentioned. Anyhow, if you run your sauce through a food mill, I think the many of the good ones will filter them out - that is if you even care about it. I know my Spremy does, perhaps some of the better non-electric ones do as well. But they are not too big of a deal in sauce even if they are left in (imo). I have heard some folks say they think a lot of seeds left in can sometimes make a sauce bitter, but that has not been my experience. I sometimes make quickie skillet sauce during tom growing season, somewhat similar to the rec that was posted earlier in this thread, and I certainly don't bother to de-seed those toms or pull out the mill for one meal.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2008 at 4:36AM
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Don't forget that if you simmer tomato sauce in an iron skillet you will improve the flavor of the resulting sauce and increase the iron content. Just don't overdo it. This is best done during final preparation, as in, open a jar of canned tomato sauce, simmer in a cast iron skillet, add ingredients such as pepper, onion, etc.

When you cook down just about any tomato variety, the flavors concentrate. This is why most tomato sauces have much more intense flavor than the original fruits. As noted above, paste/sauce varieties have less water to start with so they don't require as much cooking time. If you are canning plain tomato juice, it is critically important to pre-cook it for at least 30 minutes before putting into jars. Tomato juice tends to foam heavily when first heated. If heated and stirred, the foaming gradually slows which allows the juice to be canned without boilover in the canner. Sauce makers should also be aware of the foaming since tomato juice can easily boil over on the stove. Adjust the heat and stir often. It helps to have a good stainless steel pan with a thick aluminum base pad such as Revereware, etc.

Opalka is a very good flavored tomato, but it is a marginal producer in some climates. Hot dry weather in particular is challenging. This is to forewarn growers in the hot humid southeast and in desert areas of the U.S. I get a good crop from Opalka about half the time. For production consistency, Heidi is much better in hotter climates.

Here is a listing of the varieties I grow for canning and sauce.

Burgundy Traveller - any of the Arkansas Traveler series is acceptable.
Red Brandywine - heavy production and decent flavor.
Druzba - the most intense flavor, I prefer about 1/3 of the total sauce from these.
Lynnwood - a very good highly productive tomato for general use including sauce.
Heidi - determinate paste variety with notable production in hot climates.
Opalka - elongated pepper type with excellent juicy flavor for sauce or paste or even fresh eating.
Tropic - significant heat and disease tolerance for southeast growers. General purpose tomato.
Eva Purple Ball - excellent production, pink fruit, decent flavor.
Rutgers - This old commercial variety is still near the top of the list of good flavored tomatoes.

There are lots of others that I could include such as Cherokee Purple, KBX, J.D.'s Special C-Tex for other colors.


    Bookmark   December 19, 2008 at 10:24AM
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I'm currently making a simple spaghetti sauce for tonight's dinner in a slow cooker. Unfortunately I don't have any garden tomatoes. Just some peeled ones in a can that my mother-in-law keeps giving me. Since I have accumulated 5 large cans of them, this will allow me to experiment a few times to see what seasonings I like. If it doesn't turn out well, oh well. They were a gift. I'll try again with the next can another night.

Suze-I will most likely toss in whatever tomatoes are ready when I'm ready to make sauce. I only have room for around 10-12 tomato plants, so I don't think I have much choice unless I plant a few determinate plants of the same kind. I'd rather plant a bunch of different kinds to see what I like though.

Tom-I think I'll try the same thing and freeze a few like Bill suggested. I could use them later for chili or something.

DarJones-Thanks so much for the list of tomatoes you like for canning and sauces. I always find detailed lists like those very interesting and helpful.


    Bookmark   December 19, 2008 at 12:44PM
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tom8olvr(Z5 MA)

Opalka is not prolific for me either... Northeast gardener
here - BUT it is TOTALLY worth it. !!

Oxhearts are not prolific either - but again totally worth

Iron Skillet thing is great unless you have hemochromotosis
in your family... :) As I do... Threw away all my cast iron stuff.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2008 at 1:37PM
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I'm so glad that I decided on Opalka. Overall it seems to be a highly regarded tomato. I won't mind it not being prolific as long as the ones I get are tasty. From the endorsements it's been getting I think I'm going to be a very happy gardener next season.


    Bookmark   December 19, 2008 at 2:03PM
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i can't say enough good things about the opalka tomato! it has been 'the' sauce tomato in our house for years. (love it fresh, too) it's wonderful-you won't be sorry.
i'm with you tom8olvr, i love the way the jars look in my pantry!
p.s. it consistently produces well for us.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2008 at 8:38PM
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macheske(6/7 NorthernVA)

We put up a lot of sauce last year. Here are a couple things I learned.

1. The kitchen aide strainer works great. Just put quaters or whatever pieces will fit in and out comes pulp and juice (no seeds or other parts). Get the bigger tray for it since it makes it easier.
2. The beefsteaks made the best tasting sauce.
3. Don't add lemon juice. We did this the first batch and it tastes terrible. Use a pressure canner instead.
4. It takes a long time to boil down sauce slowly so it isn't scalded.

Here's a picture....

Hope it helps..

    Bookmark   December 20, 2008 at 5:18PM
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My mouth is watering...

    Bookmark   December 20, 2008 at 5:29PM
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macheske(6/7 NorthernVA)

BTW... Opalka is very prolific for me. I had only one plant last year and it was over 8' tall and had well over 100 tomatoes on it.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2008 at 6:23PM
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macheske(6/7 NorthernVA)

Oh....btw...for taste, I agree with Tom, Opalka was nothing special. It was bland at best. I'm trying again this year but I thought many others were better.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2008 at 6:55PM
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That plant is huge! Quite a producer. Hopefully next season will be better for tomatoes and the flavor will be improved.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2008 at 4:40PM
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franktank232(z5 WI)

Not going to like me. I tried Opalka last year after reading a lot of rave reviews and i was NOT impressed. Taste for me was BLAND, although it was productive, it took FOREVER to ripen. Might have something to do with the COLD summer we had up here (compared to "normal") or with my soil.

I'll be growing WI 55 and probably a beefsteak or some hybrid this year. My goal is to put up a lot of sauce next year.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2009 at 10:23AM
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tom8olvr(Z5 MA)

The plants for opalka for me are also huge... but I really
don't get a ton of tomatoes off the enormous plant... And
the plant has that droopy foliage too... I'm jealous that
you are getting that many opalkas! I wish I was in your

If anyone here got seed from me - for Opalka - what I gave
away last year was NOT OPALKA. I keep 'hearing' people
saying they didn't like it and I'm fearful that what they
had might have been from me (I did a fair amount of sharing
last year)... If you got seed from Tom8olvr - please give
opalka another shot!!!

Opalka doesn't make a ton of sauce in my house b/c we LOVE
it fresh!!!!!!!!! :) :) :)


    Bookmark   January 5, 2009 at 11:52AM
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brokenbar(Mexico 23 00 N, 102 00 W)

Costoluto Genovese..I have tried probably 60 different varieties over the years and none of them were as good as CG. It is, oddly enough, not a great tasting tomato for just eating raw. Something in the cooking alters the chemical composition or something ??? (you science types on here can quit laughing!) If you were to eat a piece of CG and then taste the spagetti sauce, you would never know that it is the same tomato. I remember a another member on this forum relating the same kind of story about another changed the taste. I grow only paste type tomatoes so I have used nearly every one of them in sauce and none ever tripped my trigger except CG.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2009 at 8:40AM
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duderubble(z5 Illinois)

Plan for making spaghetti sauce. Procrastinate until every square inch of counter space is filled. At the first fruit fly in the kitchen, go back out to the garden and get every tomato that is even close to ripe (of course this means two or three days of tomato withdrawl after sauce day).

Blanch tomatoes, slip off the peels, cut in half and squeeze out seeds. Throw in blender and puree. Dump in the largest pot known to man and boil down for an hour or three. Reserve about one sixth of the tomatoes to be sliced/crushed and added for the last half hour at which time you will also add seasoning--for me onions sauteed in olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, oregano & sweet basil.

If there's any left after feeding your four (and soon to be five) kids, freeze in large ziplock freezer bags. That is all. Oh, italian sausage or homemade meatballs are nice, but I wouldn't add these to the portion I'm freezing.

You can call this Dude Rubble's 18 variety spaghetti sauce scramble

    Bookmark   January 6, 2009 at 10:16AM
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tom8olvr(Z5 MA)

Love it Dude - and completely relate to the first two

    Bookmark   January 6, 2009 at 1:23PM
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