Pizza Time

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I love pizza. Who doesn’t? There are plenty of outstanding locally owned pizzerias in my neighborhood, and a select few frozen pizzas are of decent quality, but I like to make my own from scratch, crust and all. I think the best part of pizza is the sauce, especially when it’s made from tomatoes harvested right from the garden. Due to a partially shady yard, our tomatoes take longer to ripen, so we’re still picking.

Those of you who have followed my blog from the beginning may recall one of my first posts about overcoming my fear of canning. I’ve again canned salsa, sauce and pickles this year, with apple pie filling coming next. But I still preserve summer goodies via freezer, as well. With the gift of a new chest freezer on the way, I’m making lots of homemade pizza sauce to freeze and use over the winter months.

A fine pizza sauce recipe was provided in the bi-weekly sales flyer from a local natural foods co-op. I started with this recipe as a base and made it my own according to preference (I’m a basil and garlic nut). Since I’m just throwing it into the freezer and not preserving it through canning, I can alter the recipe without having to worry about upsetting the pH balance that may deem it unsafe for water bath canning.

I’ve found that there is a debate among homemade tomato sauce makers when it comes to whether or not to leave the skin on. Traditionalists often insist the skins must be removed from tomatoes. I tried to stay true to custom, but I ended up making absolute messes with food mills and squeezie-type strainers in attempt to remove seeds and skin from boiled down tomatoes. My other methods of mashing tomato pulp through a strainer with a potato masher, or pre-peeling warmed tomatoes, only to have them slip from my hands like a bar of wet soap, were also ineffective.

So, skin it is! I just half the tomatoes and scoop out the seeds prior to boiling the sauce. When my sauce is finished, a quick pulse through the food processor takes care of any of those rolled stick-like tomato skin pieces.

So, here is the pizza sauce recipe that I use. It’s a combination of a couple of different recipes. I like my sauce with a bit of a kick, but you can adjust the seasonings according to taste:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • About 3 pounds fresh tomatoes, seeded and chopped (Roma or beefsteak works well)
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped

In a saucepan, warm olive oil over low heat. Add minced garlic cloves and sauté for a minute or two. Increase the heat to medium, and add the tomatoes, sugar, red pepper flakes, salt, black pepper and onion powder. Simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally until boiling. Reduce heat to low and continue simmering for about 60 minutes.

Some recipes recommend simmering longer, but I’m satisfied once the tomatoes are soft, the spices are cooked in, and the liquid from the tomatoes is reduced.

Stir in the fresh oregano and basil, and then let the sauce cool until it’s safe to handle. Pour the sauce into a blender or food processor, working in batches if necessary, and pulse to desired consistency (I prefer the sauce a little chunky and pasty). Pour it into freezer-safe containers and freeze until use.

Now to make the pizza!