Recently I realised I wouldn’t be able to purchase my favourite bottled tomato sauce — Roasted Garlic and Onion — from my organic box supplier. This is a total bummer, because I *love* that stuff, it’s delicious. It also comes in wonderful brown glass bottles which are great to re-use, as the brown colour helps keep the produce fresh (it filters the sunlight better).
My organic box service *does* offer “cooking tomatoes”, however, which are rejected first grade fruit. Normally organic tomatoes sell for $12 per kg, which is pricey compared to regular supermarket tomatoes at $8 per kg. But the organic “cooking tomatoes” are sold for $3.50 per kg, which is a total win.
So, recently I made up a batch of my own sauce, using these tomatoes. Here’s how doing it yourself compares:
- Bought sauce: $4.80 for 700 mL. Organic ingredients. Contains ONLY tomatoes, garlic, onion and NOTHING ELSE.
- My sauce: $3.50 for 1kg tomatoes (organic), 1 head home-grown garlic (organic), 2 onions at 99c per kg (not organic, I used what I had). This made 4 jars of 375 mL sauce.
Verdict: the professional sauce still wins on flavour, although my sauce was very good this time. The flavour would have been even better if I had time to ripen the tomatoes for a few days on my kitchen bench. In the end, my sauce wins on availability, and was cheaper!
These prices are in Australian dollars, and in our supermarket it costs $3.30 for a 500 mL bottle of a “leading brand” of sauce — NOT organic. Making your own sauce is a very affordable way to eat better quality food. No salt! No sugar! You just don’t need that stuff; tomatoes are delicious all by themselves.
Here’s how to do it (and it’s easy):
Slice up some tomatoes, and lay them in a baking dish.
Halve your onions and lay them cut-side up.
Pull apart a head of garlic (or half a head, or however much you want), and scatter the cloves about.
Drizzle everything with olive oil. You don’t need to drench it! Just for seasoning.
Bake in a moderate oven (180 °C) for an hour and a half (give or take). (Warning: this step will make everyone in your house VERY hungry.)
Let it cool on the bench, then remove and discard the onion and garlic skins.
Push all the bits through a sieve (a ‘mouli’, or ‘food mill’ is what I use, and it takes about two minutes). This bit is messier if you don’t have the right tools, but a sieve will do the job. Don’t use a food processor as this chops into the seeds and can give a bitter flavour to the sauce.
If the sauce is too watery for your taste, you can reduce the sauce for a little while on the stove. I would have done this if I had time, but everyone was hungry when I got home, and I just sieved-and-served, so to speak.
The mouli makes this incredibly easy. My mum used a mouli to make all my soft baby food, I believe, rather than using a food processor. You may find one worth the investment, especially if a food processor is out of your price range. It can’t do everything a food processor can, but on the other hand, it’s about one tenth the price. 🙂
6 thoughts on “Home-made tomato sauce”
“Warning: this step will make everyone in your house VERY hungry.”
She’s not kidding. Make sure you have food on hand before this step!
You read my mind with this post. There is a local farm here that sells their culls for about $.10 a lb. I am not sure what that breaks out to comparision wise with your prices, but ours are not organic either. I am still going to go and load up my car with tomatoes and make a TON of home made sauce! I can’t wait!
I also saw a post elsewhere where you can cook them in the crock pot overnight. I love that idea for large batches!
Doing big batches is the best way, if you now how to store it! 🙂
I probably should have mentioned that I store the bottles in the fridge or freezer, and not on the shelf like the supermarket version! Preserving in bottles is a whole different post 🙂
I am planning on freezing mine. That way we can set it out in the morning to thaw and cook it for dinner when we get home! I am not going to can it.
That looks like a top-quality mill. What brand is it and would you recommend it?
I would certainly recommend it, although I have no idea whether other brands of food mill are just as good. This one is nice and solid, and being mechanical I’m not worried about anything going sproing any time soon. As for brand, I *think* it might be “Gefu” from Germany. But it has been a few years since I bought it and long recycled the box, so my memory is hazy.