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July: preserving tomatoes

Our garden in mid summer is totally crazy.

My grandma was very careful with it so she always worked on cleaning the weeds between plants as they would grow massively, especially after a short rain.

But we kind of wanted to experiment with a less cared garden and see how (crazy) it would grow this year. It looks very wild now, but with minimal care we managed to clean the important stuff and water regularly, which already is a lot of work beside our full time jobs.

But this is a blessed month. First serious harvests are being done and we pretty much eat the same thing over and over again: tomato, cucumber and pepper salads, zucchini fritters, pasta with garden tomato sauce, zucchini, leeks, eggplants and some sort of caponata, better known here as Lecsó (a naturally vegan dish, if you skip the sausage as we do).

Also, it’s an excellent year for apricots and plums, so stone fruit pies, sponge cakes and galettes are made constantly.

This year was a very dry and hot one, so we already enjoyed the first grape bunches.

But that doesn’t mean the work is done. We still have to water every few days, and harvest daily. We obviously can’t eat that much so we preserve.

Tomato preserving

First we make fermented and pickled cucumbers, on their own or with flavourings like onions, horseradish and thyme.

Then the tomato sauce race begins. We always do big quantities because it’s the most used ingredient in out kitchen. It’s not easy with all the jar cleaning and sterilization process, but our tomato sauce recipe is pretty simple.

How to preserve tomato sauce

You’ll need your tomatoes, a meat-grinder or blender, sterilized jars, an additional help and a ‘bed’ (which can be a wide basket with blankets where you’ll put all the jars and keep them warm at least 2 days after).

The reason we do that is because the slowly cooling process will also work as a preservation process.

  1. Prepare the tomatoes and grinder/blender

Choose the most ripe tomatoes, wash them 2-3 times in water and take out the spine. Cut each tomato in 2 or 4.

Prepare a meat grinder and grind everything. You don’t need to blanch before. The skins will be small enough and the sauce will be great even for drinking.

But if you want a seed and skin free juice, just strain everything after grinding.

Then add in pots and boil for 2 hours at small to medium heat.

2. Sterilisation

Preheat the oven at 180 degrees.

If your jars are not brand new, wash them well before.

Prepare a wide tray and add as many jars as you can.

Sterilize them by placing in the oven for about 15-20 minutes.

3. Fill the jars

Organize well:

You need to be ready with your jars by the time the tomato juice is ready.

While you fill the first tray of jars, place another round of jars in the oven. So that way you’ll work only with high temperatures and the glass won’t break when pouring the hot sauce.

I advise you to get someone to help. Put the lids as quick as you/they can, while the jars are still very hot.

4. Bed rest for 2 days

Add all the finished jars in a basket with blankets or any warm clothes. Tuck in and cover with clothes so the temperature will go down very slowly.

After 1 ½- 2 days, you’ll see your jars are cooled down so you can take them and place in your cool dark pantry.

These will last up to 2 years. But we always finish them within the first year.

Do you make you own tomato sauce? If yes, what is your recipe?

This is Sebi. Sebi, meet the world.


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