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Although it still feels like summer outside (hello 85! Stay as long as you like!) the garden is aware it is fall none-the-less and is winding down for the year. As always, I’ve begun to think about what worked well this year and what I’ll change next year.

Last year, I planted mostly heirloom tomatoes and was plagued with fungus, budrot and overall low yield. This year, I planted only 1 heirloom of the 4 plants, aggressively trimmed back foliage and watered more diligently. We were reward by eating all the tomatoes we wanted without purchasing a single one from the store, even with all our company! It was fantastic.

In the past 3 weeks though, so many ripened at once, I knew I’d need to do something to preserve them because we couldn’t eat them fast enough. I decided to try my hand at making sauce and the results were so fabulous I had to share!

The recipe I followed can be found at Smitten Kitchen: http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2010/08/fresh-tomato-sauce/

If you’re interested in trying it out. Here’s a step by step of how it went for me:

Finely chopped onion and celary, shredded carrot, and minced garlic. All cooked 10 minutes in the olive oil.

Finely chopped onion and celery, shredded carrot, and minced garlic. All cooked 10 minutes in the olive oil.

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I did blanch/peel the tomatoes, but as most of mine were small and meaty, I just swiped any big clumps of seeds out with my fingers and ignored the rest.

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That seemed to get plenty of juice out with minimal effort from me.

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A view of the sauce when it started. Big chunks of tomato!

After 15 minutes of cooking I decided I might not have gotten enough of the juice out and looked around for some tomato paste to help it thicken

After 15 minutes of cooking I decided I might not have gotten enough of the juice out and looked around for some tomato paste to help it thicken

My mom had given me several jars of this deliciousness, so I threw in a table spoon and froze the rest.

My mom had given me several jars of this deliciousness, so I threw in a table spoon and froze the rest.

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After an hour of cooking, the final consistency was perfect. Just like sauce from the store!

And the taste was incredible. I could have kept eating it right off the spoon!

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The result of all that hard work- enough for 3 or 4 pizzas. Definitely need to plant more tomatoes next year!

You might be asking yourself, “Was it worth all that work?” My answer would be, “Yes and no.” If I was doing it simply to be frugal, I would consider that a poor return on my time investment when I can buy jarred sauce I like for $2/jar (or less, on sale). However, I really enjoyed the process of making it and the taste is truly “sauce nirvana”. I also would have cried if those tomatoes had gone to waste. David and I agreed that we need to plant even more bushes next year so I can make a much bigger batch of this sauce.

I once heard a gardener say that her garden is all about growing tomatoes and basil and I’d have to agree. We’ll probably devote one whole bed to it next year and use the other for a few eggpant/squash and some lettuces. I’m already missing the fresh veggies of summer, but I’m thankful that a good year in the garden means we have bursts of summer put up in the freezer to remind us winter won’t last forever.

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