It’s that time of year when we start to hoard all the fresh fruits, veggies, and herbs that we can get our hands on. We are simply making up for the lost time of less fresh ingredients during the winter. Which leads us to our next tip for getting the kitchen ready for all this lushness.
Head to your freezer. Purge all the old, freezer burned food. Organize what’s left. And, make room for canning and freezing so you can enjoy the taste of freshness throughout the year.
First, the freezer, much like our fridges, can seem like a black hole. Somehow things disappear (and it’s not because we ate them). So, let’s put a stop to this disappearing act with the following items.
The wide wire basket is great for containing frozen foods, but still being able to see everything in the basket. If meal planning is something that works for you then designate a basket to each meal.
Freezer labels will help everyone in your family know where to put certain foods, but also where to find them. And, by labeling your baskets you’ll know when you’re running low. It’s a win-win for your freezer and family.
One of our favorite products is the ice tray with ice bin attached! There have been so many times we reach in to grab the ice tray and its tipped over or buried. But, no more!
A tip that we’ve adapted is portioning out our food before we freeze it. So, when you’re home alone and want a quick dinner grab the 1-person portion and voilà, a meal for one in no time. And, canning jars are great for this. There are a lot of sizes. So, if you’re canning fresh soups, sauces, or fruits you can decide the portions ahead of time.
Don’t forget to label them!
If you love to garden like us Workshoppers then you’ll probably end up with more tomatoes than you know what to do with this year. Now, for the recipe.
Try this simple, fresh tomato sauce that can be enjoyed throughout the year.
Fresh Tomato Sauce
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced or thinly sliced (to taste)
- 3 pounds ripe tomatoes, quartered if you have a food mill, peeled, seeded, and diced if you don’t
- 1/8 teaspoon sugar
- 2 sprigs of fresh basil, or 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
- 1 tablespoon slivered fresh basil
- Freshly ground pepper
1. In a wide, nonstick frying pan, or in a 3-quart saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat and add the garlic. Cook, stirring, just until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, sugar, basil or thyme sprig, and salt (begin with 1/2 teaspoon and add more later), and bring to a simmer.
2. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, stirring often, until thick. Pulpy tomatoes like romas will usually take 20 to 30 minutes. However, if the tomatoes are very juicy, it will take longer for them to cook down. The longer you cook the sauce, the sweeter it will be. You can speed up the process by turning up the heat, but stir often so the sauce doesn’t scorch. Towards the end of cooking, stir in the slivered fresh basil and some freshly ground pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings.
3. If using quartered tomatoes, put through the medium blade of a food mill. If you used peeled seeded tomatoes but want a sauce with a smooth, even texture, remove the basil sprigs and discard. Pulse the sauce in a food processor fitted with the steel blade.
Yield: Makes about 2 1/2 cups, enough for 8 generous pasta servings
Here is our BONUS: when you use up the pasta sauce and start cleaning out your glass canning jars use OxiClean’s Dishwashing Booster. It eliminates build up and removes those treacherous eye sore of white spots.