How to can/preserve fresh tomatoes into sauce in TWO HOURS!
Step 1: Purchase 20# to 40# of Organic Tomatoes
I purchased 20# of organic Early Girl tomatoes at the Farmer's Market. I figure if you're going to bother canning/preserving your own tomatoes you might as well use the best available--heirloom or combinations are fine.
Step 2: Wash Them in the Sink
This is easy...stop up the sink, dump the tomatoes in and fill with water--remember these are organic so I'm really only trying to get off the dust/dirt...no pesticides ;)
Step 3: Cut Tomatoes Up, Readying for Pan and Oven
I cut mine into quarters...if you're using larger tomatoes, you could cut them into 6ths or 8ths...try to make them reasonably even in size so they cook uniformly.
I have large restaurant style pans [type used in kitchens and by caterers...about 12"x20"x4" deep]; if you don't have these, you can use 9 x 13 pans used for cakes/brownies...just adjust how many you'll need. I usually buy 30# of tomatoes and that will fill 2 of mine; 20# filled 1 pan 4" deep and 1 pan 2" deep.
Add 6-10 cloves of garlic, peeled and just smashed/crushed...no need to chop, plus good amount of sea salt and fresh ground pepper (1 Tbsp. salt, 2 tsp. pepper) and 2 Tbsp. sugar...yes, sugar...all Italian cooks add sugar to their sauces!
Cook in 350 degree oven for 1-2 hours until all tomatoes are soft...there will be a lot of juice...don't worry
Step 4: Grind/Process the Tomatoes
I use a Passatutto Tomato Press (made in Italy) that I bought several years ago at William Sonoma's; I just saw a knock-off at Cost Plus--they're about $25 and worth EVERY CENT. I tried to process tomatoes one year without it and the whole process took all day for the same amount of tomatoes...I cannot emphasize the need for this one piece of equipment, even if you only use it once a year ;)
I usually wait until the tomatoes are completely cooled, but this year I was in a hurry to get this done, so I processed when still relatively warm--no worries, you spoon the tomatoes into the top and crank the handle and your hands are never really in danger of getting burned--of course do take precautions if you're working with children!
I use two tupperware containers to catch, on one side, the peels, seeds, etc. and on the other side all the juicy goodness of the tomato--this is what you're after!!
I collect everything into a large 10 quart pot (like a pasta cooking pot) as I process. I send the "discard" pile of seeds and tomatoes through the press TWICE to get every little bit out.
Step 5: Voila! You Have 10 Qts. of Tomato Sauce
Really, it's that simple. I processed, from start to finish 20# of tomatoes in about 2 hours total...about 1/2 hour to clean and cut them up; 1-2 hours "passive" time while they cooked; another 1/2 hour to process and about 15 minutes to place in 3 cup plastic zip-log bags ready for the freezer*
*last year I processed into canning jars and where they look nice and are also easy to preserve this way, it adds at least another hour to the whole process since you have to clean the jars, process in a hot water bath, etc., etc.
Step 6: And the Finished Product!
Now I'll have 10-12, 3 cup plastic bags worth of tomato sauce ready to add to any recipe calling for tomato sauce, to make my own pasta sauce, etc....ALL with organic, delicious tomatoes from the farmer's market. You might ask why not use your own homegrown...we EAT all of those fresh as fast as we can ;)