Ha! Did I get your attention?
This time of year when tomatoes abound in our gardens, and many of us are canning, freezing and eating the vegetable (or is it a fruit?) in any way, shape or form we can think of, it seems impossible to believe that at one time, tomatoes were very much feared.
Tomatoes have been traced clear back to 700 AD, which is amazing in itself. By the 16th century, European adventurers here in the Americas discovered them and brought them home. At that time, the rich were served their food on pewter dishware. Unbeknownst to them, when high-acid foods like tomatoes were served on the pewter, the lead leeched out into the food, which resulted in lead poisoning and death.
The poor, however, used wooden plates and thus did not have the lead poisoning problem. Notably, many Italians were poor and thrived on the tomatoes. Wasn’t long before they developed some pretty darn delicious dishes with those tomatoes, and we all know what those are–pizza and spaghetti sauce are only the beginning.
Every year I plant tomatoes. Usually one plant, sometimes two. This year is my first for Romas, and my lone plant is a workhorse! It’s so prolific, I can hardly keep up with its bounty. Can you see how it’s spilling out of its cage? It can’t be contained. Enough already! I’ve preserved three batches of spaghetti sauce, two of salsa, one of plain tomatoes, and that doesn’t include all the tomatoes I’ve used in dinner dishes or eaten plain by the bowlful.
Ah, well. Won’t be long, I’ll pull the darn thing up. Nights are getting shorter and cooler, which means the tomatoes are slowing down. In the midst of winter, I’ll certainly miss walking out to the garden for a fresh tomato right off the vine.
If you’re drowning in tomatoes, too, I’d love to share my spaghetti sauce recipe with you. It’s wonderful and easy. The best part of all, you cook it in the Crockpot, let it cool, then freeze. (Of course, if you prefer to can in a hot water bath, go for it. That works just as well.)
Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce
4 onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup vegetable oil
16 cups peeled and chopped tomatoes
2 Tb dried oregano
2 Tb dried basil
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup white sugar
2 Tb salt
3/4 tsp black pepper
6 oz can tomato paste
- In a 6 quart slow cooker on high, saute onion, garlic, green pepper and vegetable oil until onion is transparent.
- Add chopped tomatoes, oregano, basil, parsley, sugar, salt and pepper.
- Cook for 2 to 3 hours on low heat. Stir frequently.
- Let sauce cool. Pour sauce into quart size freezer containers. Store in freezer.
- When ready to use sauce, stir in can of tomato paste.
Notes: I start sauteing first while I’m peeling the tomatoes. Also, I use an immersion blender to smooth the sauce a bit.