Saturday, August 10, 2013

CANNING Fresh Tomato Meat Ragu Sauce - Small Batch Canning

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Canning season is almost here.  My little garden of 6 tomato plants is just starting to get more tomatoes than I can eat in a day so time to do something with them.

This is just a little bit more complicated than what I have been canning so far.  This is the sauce I make lasagna with (one of my all time favorite dishes).  Sadly, any sauce that includes meat MUST be pressure canned.  Which pretty much means I am just not going to do it.

BUT, for the jars I did a 30 minute water bath of rolling boil.  This batch made 4 quarts, I use 2 quarts to make a lasagna.  So 2 of the jars were set aside.  In the refrigerator for no more than a month, I get a lasagna now and for no additional work, I get a lasagna in a month.

Alternatively, if you do not plan to use the sauce within a month, freezing (air tight, ziplock bags) would be the best way to keep this sauce for up to a year.

I do take a pretty big short cut from other recipes you may have seen.  I do not remove the skins from the tomatoes.  Especially when there are so many smaller ones.  TOTALLY FRESH TOMATOES (like the ones from a farmer's market or my back yard) have plenty of tomato flavor, including the skin.  If you make this sauce from store bought tomatoes with unknown origin or time from freshness (it takes awhile to get from South America to the shelves in Kansas), do remove the skin.  However even with fresh tomatoes, I use a wand blender and make sure that the sauce is thinned and blended completely before adding meat and additional vegetables, herbs and spices.

OK, Here's what I did...

Fresh Tomato Meat Ragu Sauce  

  • 1/2 Peck of Tomatoes (4 Quarts, about 40 Medium to small Tomatoes (but not cherry tomato size), quartered, hard stem removed
  • 1/4 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 TBS Sugar
  • 1 Small Can Tomato Paste
  • A couple pinches of Salt
  • Several turns of a Pepper Grinder
  • 2 TBS Olive Oil
  • 1 Medium Red Onion, minced (for the Soffritto)
  • 3 Medium Carrot, minced (for the Soffritto)
  • 3 Stalks Celery, minced (for the Soffritto)
  • 1/4 Cup Fresh Parsley, Chopped (For the Soffritto)
  • 4 Cloves Garlic, Minced (for the Soffritto
  • 1 Pound Ground Beef
  • 1 Pound ground Sausage
  • 2 TBS Fresh Oregano chopped
  • 2 TBS Fresh Thyme, Chopped
  • 1 TBS Fennel Seeds
  • 1 TBS Cumin
  • 1/2 Cup Dry red Wine to deglaze the pan
Cooking Directions
  1. First, make a Tomato Sauce from the fresh tomatoes...  In a large Slow Cooker, Crock Pot, set the temperature to high and add the quartered Tomatoes, Balsamic Vinegar, a sprinkling of sugar, salt and Pepper.  Cover and allow to simmer, for four hours, stirring occasionally.
  2. AT the end of that time, the cooker should have mostly liquid in it.  Take a hand wand blender (or transfer in batches to a food processor) and thoroughly blend until a smooth even thin sauce.
  3. Add the can of Tomato paste and return to high heat in the slow cooker.
  4. Next, make the Soffritto... In a Large heavy bottomed skillet, over medium heat, bring 2 TBS Olive Oil to temperature.
  5. Add the Onion, Carrot and Celery and saute for 5 minutes until the onion begins to turn translucent.
  6. Add the Garlic and Parsley and saute for one more minute.
  7. Add the beef and pork to the skillet WITH the soffritto and cook until just brown. Break up the meat to tiny pieces as it browns. the drippings from the meat are absorbed into the soffritto, flavoring even more. If there is any pooling drippings, go ahead and drain that out.
  8. Deglaze the pan with the red wine.
  9. Add to the already prepared meatless (or thin meat) sauce and mix.
  10. Add the herbs, Oregano, Thyme, Fennel Seeds, Cumin, additional pinches of  salt and pepper and mix.
  11. Simmer for 1 hour so all the flavors meld together.
  12. Transfer to hot sterilized canning jars.
  13. Wipe the rims clean and set the canning jar lids on the rims.  Tighten with the bands and allow to cool to room temperature.  The lids should "POP" letting you know that the small batch canning process has worked.
  14. Store in a refrigerator for up to a month (alternatively, skip the jars and allow the sauce to cool before transferring to Ziplock Freezer bags and store in the freezer for up to a year).
  15. Think LASAGNA and ENJOY!!!


So,  I am pleased to list this as one of my very favorite Growing list of  "52 Small Batch Canning Ideas"!!!

I love Canning! Love the idea of it, Love having my own Jellies, Pickled produce, Sauces, Chutneys... All those pint, half pint, 4 Ounce jars,,, Even big quart jars of Spaghetti Sauce Lined up in my basement storage shelves.  Small batch means I can usually finish a project in no more than an hour of hands on work and usually less.  Easy DIY Projects that last a month or more... Great ideas for first time canners!


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