Tomato Jam, Spaghetti Sauce, and Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread
Updated: Jun 24, 2020
Our new Pyrenees puppy has been letting me get maybe four hours of sleep a night, and that's broken into two, making for some early morning cooking and preserving this week. I thought I'd share my morning this morning ... with the recipes ... since I get a lot of requests for them.
My day started at 5 am. By 9am I had 3 loaves of double chocolate zucchini bread made, 50 pounds of tomatoes made into tomato jam and spaghetti sauce, all the animals fed and watered for the morning, laundry completed, and first work meetings completed.
The zucchini bread was an attempt to sneak more zucchini into yet another meal since it's coming out my ears. The bread is amazing. The recipe follows. Other than the chocolate, it is completely healthy. :) It's super difficult to tell it's good for you.
1 1/2 cups shredded zucchini
1 cup organic all-purpose flour
1/2 cup organic unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon organic coffee flavoring
3/4 cup organic dark chocolate chips
2 large duck eggs
1 cup pear- or applesauce
1/2 cup organic sugar
1 teaspoon homemade vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350. Mix all ingredients except chocolate chips together. Once mixed, fold in half of the chocolate chips, reserving the remainder. Pour ingredients into a prepared baking dish. Sprinkle remaining chocolate chips on top of batter. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
On to the tomatoes ....
I get a lot of requests for directions on how we process hundreds of pounds of tomatoes quickly, so here goes. Meet the 375 pounds renting my dining room floor at the moment!
So, how do we get through this many tomatoes in a week? My secret weapon is the oven! It completely eliminates the need to peel tomatoes. Let's start with the spaghetti and pizza sauces and then I'll explain how to amend this process for many other things.
Grab a few large glass baking pans. Layer a few sprigs of oregano, basil, and a few cloves of garlic in the bottom. I have a constant herb garden, so I go clip these as I need them. You can substitute for store bought as appropriate. Rinse your tomatoes and start slicing either in half or in quarters depending on size of tomatoes. Layer in the glass baking dish until full. Add salt and pepper on top. I can fit 4 of these baking dishes in each oven. Continue filling dishes until your oven is full. Bake at 425 for about 3 hours. Your tomatoes should look like this:
You'll want to strain the juice out of each pan and preserve it separately. If you leave in all the juice, this will make for some soupy sauces that will not stick to your pasta. (The other alternative is to add tomato paste to thicken up your sauce.)
Once the juice is strained, send all of the other ingredients through a food mill. The food mill is your new best friend! Seriously! It will strain all the pulp into the pot and allow you to throw out the seeds and skins. You can buy a cheap one for under $20. A more expensive one will run closer to $50. I highly recommend investing the extra money.
Make sure you strain the tomatoes until all you have left is the seeds and skins. It is important to get all the pulp. The resulting sauce should look like the below.
At this point you can taste and season more if needed. I would caution against adding too many heavy spices as some of them get stronger in the canning process. I find it tastes just about perfect, and the only thing I usually add when I open is a bit more oregano.
It's now ready for a jar. Fill whichever size jar you feel is appropriate. Water bath for 45 minutes per quart or 40 minutes per pint.
As for pizza sauce, honestly, the only difference between the spaghetti sauce and the pizza sauce recipe is ... it gets labeled as pizza sauce if the sauce is a thicker consistency!
Because the tomatoes take 3 hours in the oven, I often set these to run overnight since my ovens have a cooking timer. Once done, the oven shuts off, and the tomatoes stay in the oven until the morning. Depending on the tomatoes, allowing them to sit in the warm oven overnight causes more of the juices to evaporate. This gets labeled pizza sauce. I add a tad bit of fennel seed to this before canning.
This cooking method can be amended to allow the tomatoes to be made into several other things ... BBQ sauce, tomato jam, plain tomato sauce, etc.
This morning was tomato jam. Tomato jam is a cross between a marmalade and ketchup. I first took the plunge and made tomato jam last year. After a few weird eyebrow raises everyone tried it, and now I only have 4 jars left from last year. I wish I'd have made it sooner!
The tomatoes go through the same oven cooking. Just leave out the seasonings and put in plain tomatoes. Once done, strain as much juice as possible. Put the resulting sauce in a pan on low. Cook down on low until remaining juice is gone and the sauce has thickened.
Add the following ingredients:
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt
Red pepper flakes or jalapeno to taste
Water bath in jelly jars for 20 minutes.
Tomato jam can be used in place of ketchup. We use it on breakfast sandwiches, meatloaf, hamburgers, or any other place you'd use ketchup.
I hope you all enjoy!