I am not a fan of purchased canned tomato sauce, but it takes time and thought so I will use it when I need to, but I taste the dish as I add it in increments to avoid the strong, somewhat off-putting flavor produced when too much of it is used. There is no comparison to home-made sauce and hopefully with today’s method and the “back to the garden” movement currently in full swing, more will begin to enjoy the flavor of the real deal. The quality of tomato sauce is a debate that has been waged for over a century as noted below.
“What is called Tomato sauce in this country is only a libel on the real article. Vinegar, in quantities more or less large, and cayenne pepper are used in the preparation of it, and, as might be expected, these things overpower completely and kill that pleasant acid taste, quite sui generis, to which is mainly due the great charm of the Tomato. In some shops you can buy preserved Tomato sauce made in France, and this will be found very good if it is really of Gallic origin, a fact easily ascertained by opening a bottle and tasting it. If it tastes of Tomatoes it is good French Tomato sauce; if the compound is very acid and hot to the mouth – in other words, if vinegar and cayenne predominate—then it is the British form—to be avoided. Good French Tomato sauce, however, is not very cheap; and as Tomatoes can be bought in London—at a certain season of the year—at a very moderate rate, those who choose to take the trouble can provide themselves with a sufficient stock of good wholesome Tomato sauce, if they will attend the following directions. To ensure perfect success the Tomatoes should be gathered quite ripe on a bright sunny day, about one or two o’clock in the afternoon. Those who have no garden to grow Tomatoes in, or, having a garden look out in vain for a bright sunny day, must manage as best they can. Cut up the Tomatoes into quarters, and put them into a saucepan with salt quant. Suff[icient], a good handful of Basil, and three or four cloves of Garlic. A little water should be put into the saucepan to prevent the Tomatoes catching. When they are thoroughly done, turn them out upon a hair sieve, and wait till all the water has drained from them. Throw away this water, and proceed to pass the Tomatoes through the sieve. The pulp thus obtained is put into a saucepan to boil for about half an hour, and a moderate quantity of black pepper may be added to it according to taste. When the sauce is quite cold put it into wide-mouthed bottles, cork tightly, and tie up each cork with string or wire; dip the neck of each bottle into melted rosin, and you may put them away to be used when required. The bottles should be of moderate size, for, once opened, the sauce will no longer keep good. If, before putting on the wire, the bottles of sauce are placed upright in a large vessel of cold water, and this is put on the fire until the water boils, the preservation will be more certain still, and the sauce will keep good any length of time. Care must be taken, however, not to remove the bottles from this ‘bain-marie [a type of double-boiler] until the water has become perfectly cold.
Another way consists in letting the Tomato pulp reduce in a sauce-pan until it assumes the appearance of a very thick paste—car being taken to stir it constantly; when cool it is put away like jam in pots, and will keep any length of time. This is what is called ‘conserva’ in Italy, only in that country the Tomato pulp is reduced to the consistency of a thick paste by the action of the sun instead of that of the fire. To use the conserva a small quantity is dissolved in water. It makes very good sauce, but the taste is different from that of the fresh Tomato, or of the preserved sauce, described above.
Another way of preserving Tomatoes in countries where the heat of the sun is strong, consists in splitting them in halves and exposing them to the sun, taking care to take them in at night, and to turn over each individual half at least once a day, until they are quite dry. To make the sauce from these they should be soaked in cold water for six or seven hours; then boiled and passed through the sieve. The sauce thus obtained is slightly different in flavor from that made with conserva, or with the fresh fruit. To make suace for present use the process is nearly the same as that for preserving; but there are many varieties…
The article went on to suggest using fresh herbs (parsley, basil, marjoram, thyme, and laurel leaf with garlic or shallot) – “The Garden”. Oct. 19, 1872.
I will share this one for comparison, notice the early date. TOMATO SAUCE. “The Southern Agriculturist”. Vol. 8. Nov. 1835. Parboil the ripe Tomatoes until the skin will slip; peal [sic] and mash them; and add to every pound of the Tomatoes one ounce of butter, season with salt and pepper and simmer over a slow fire until perfectly cooked.
A modern tomato sauce to die for:
Make the sauce with tiny ripe tomatoes (like grape or cherry tomatoes) – any kind you like (heirloom are best), yellow, red, or black to suit your fancy. To about a pound of tomatoes in a mixing bowl, pour over a couple of Tablespoons of good olive oil and toss to coat. Salt and pepper to taste. Roast in a 400 degree oven until the tomatoes are soft. Serve over pasta, in stews, or with anything that will benefit from the rich roasted flavor (perhaps baked fish, shrimp and grits, etc. or use for pizza sauce or to flavor gravy). Fresh herbs of choice, and garlic or shallot can be added.
Blissful meals yall, – THF.