Here’s an easy and delicious way to get rid of 6 pounds of tomatoes in one fell swoop – you’re going to be making LOTS of sauce.
Once I figured out how to reduce the time to evaporate the liquid of the tomatoes in the pressure cooker ketchup recipe, by keeping them mostly whole, I realized I could use this for tomato sauce, too. In fact, I had no choice, as my husband who can’t let a good deal slip by him, arrived at home with another 8k (16lb) box of ripe plum tomatoes.
Tripling the amount of tomatoes, from two to six pounds while reducing liquids initially gave me a “scorched” sauce as the viscous tomato juice struggled to boil. So here, instead of closing the pressure cooker and going, we bring the contents to a boil before pressure cooking.
Keep the skins and seeds, really..
Traditionally Italians peel and seed everything – including tomatoes for sauce. But my cooking style is very rustic, for the sake of ease. So, it was a lovely surprise to discover that just like there are benefits to leaving the skins on potatoes (protein) there are also benefits to consuming the skins and seeds in the tomatoes!
According to a study, a large portion of the tomato’s antioxidants (aka phenolics, flavonoids, lycopene and Vitamin C) happen to be in the tomato’s skin and seeds. In fact, more than half of the tomato’s nutrients are found in the pulp. So, according to science, using the whole tomato in recipes doubles this veggie’s nutritional punch.
Which setting to use to reduce..
If you have a stovetop pressure cooker, choosing the heat setting for reducing the cooking liquid (after pressure cooking) is easy – just turn the flame as low as it will go while ensuring the contents are still bubbling and boiling.
Electric pressure cookers all have different saute, brown, and reduction settings that all cook to different temperatures and times. I found that on the Instant Pot that the “Saute LESS” setting worked the best – however it times out at 30 minutes, so when you go to check and stir the tomatoes it’s time to start that setting, again. For the Breville Fast Slow Pro the setting that worked the best was “Saute LO” which will run for 40 minutes before needing to be re-set – the “Reduction” setting of the Breville only goes for 10 minutes and cannot be increased so I don’t recommend using it unless you want to re-set it six times. I just got a Fagor LUX, and have not had a chance to make this sauce in it, yet, but the “Simmer” setting should work here -it goes for 30 minutes at a time.
For electric pressure cookers without the brown or saute’ function, just choose any pressure program and use it with the lid open (be aware that these could time out at 20 or 30 minutes – so be sure to check that the cooker is still in “heat-up” mode when you go swish everything around).
Use it plain or fancied-up
This basic sauce is pretty darn good on its own, but with a few additions you can get completely different flavors and effects. Toss in grilled zucchini strips for a nice summer feel. Or, add tuna and capers for a one pot meal. Or, mix-in a cup of ricotta to turn this into a creamy “pink” sauce. Leave a comment, below, to let us know how you used or zazzed up your large-batch tomato sauce!
Preserving the harvest..
Personally, my family goes through A LOT of tomato sauce so stacking these jars in the refrigerator is not a problem for us. However, if you want to keep the sauce for longer, let it cool and transfer to zip-loc bags and freeze. If you have a pressure canner, or a pressure cooker/canner, hot pack it and process it for the “pasta sauce (no meat)” pressure canning processing time appropriate for your jar size, canner type and altitude.
- Serves: about 4-5 pint (500ml) jars
- Serving size: ¼ cup
- Calories: 42.9
- TOTAL Fat: 2.1g
- TOTAL Carbs: 6.1g
- Sugar Carbs: 0.1g
- Sodium: 12mg
- Fiber Carbs: 1.5g
- Protein: 1g
- Cholesterol: 0.0mg
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 2-3 medium yellow onions, sliced into rings
- 2 large carrots, roughly chopped
- 1 celery stalk, roughly chopped
- 6 pounds (3k) plum tomatoes, quartered
- 6-8 fresh basil leaves
- potato masher
- immersion blender
- 6 - 1 pint (500ml) glass jars and lids, freshly dish-washed
- wide-mouth funnel (optional)
- To the heated pressure cooker add the olive oil and onion discs. Saute' them stirring occasionally until softened. Meanwhile, slice the tomatoes (stir the onions every 4-5 tomatoes).
- Push the onions aside and add carrots and celery, saute' for another 5 minutes- while you finish quartering the tomatoes.
- Add the tomatoes and mix well, scrape the bottom with a spatula to ensure that all of the onion is lifted off the base of the pressure cooker into the sauce.
- Using a potato masher, mash down the tomatoes to get their juice out and get them under the "max" line of the pressure cooker.
- Bring the contents of the pressure cooker to a boil (using saute' mode), uncovered. When the tomato liquid starts to spray and sputter up between the tomatoes...
- Close and lock the lid of the pressure cooker.
Electric pressure cookers: Cook for 5 minutes at high pressure.
Stovetop pressure cookers: Turn the heat up to high and when the cooker indicates it has reached high pressure, lower to the heat to maintain it and begin counting 5 minutes pressure cooking time.
- When time is up, open the pressure cooker with the Normal release - release pressure through the valve.
- Mix the contents of the pressure cooker and let simmer uncovered on low flame (or the lowest boiling setting on the multi-cooker) for 1 hour or until the contents have about halved. For example, for the Breville Fast Slow Pro, the lowest boiling setting is the "Reduce Lo" setting, and for Instant Pot the lowest boiling setting is "Saute' Less"
- The cooker can be left unattended for the first 30 minutes - then it should be checked more frequently during the last 30 minutes to ensure none of the tomatoes are sticking.
- Puree the contents well using an immersion blender.
- Set-up the jars on a clean surface and place a single basil leaf in the base of each jar.
- Pour the tomato sauce into each jar and close tightly.
- Let jars cool completely and then store in the refrigerator for 5-10 days. Alternately, let the sauce cool completely in the covered pressure cooker and transfer into pint-size Ziploc bags (about two cups per bag plus a basil leaf).