Big Batch Tomato Meat Sauce

Every year around this time, I get a little burned out on making sweet, fruity jams and start to focus on putting up tomatoes for the winter months. Because my tomato plants don’t yield a huge amount, I turn to bulk buying tomatoes at the farmers markets. Each week the vendors lay out all their colorful varieties of heirloom tomatoes, but I end up bypassing most of those for the boxes of seconds or discounted tomatoes.

Seconds tomatoes often have a small bruise or blemish that make them a little undesirable over a perfect tomato, but more often than not, I often find nothing wrong with them and their taste is certainly not compromised. Not all vendors have their seconds prominently displayed, so you may need to ask, but you can often find huge savings when buying seconds. I often see market tomatoes selling for upwards of $4 a pound, but seconds tomatoes can be had for $.99 -$1.49 a pound. And if you are bulk buying, always ask the vendors for a bulk discount. In nearly all cases, vendors are willing to drop the total price by at least a couple more bucks if you are buying a big quantity, like 20 or more pounds.

Most recipes for canned tomatoes call for the tomatoes to be scored, blanched, peeled, seeded and chopped. Since this recipe makes so much, I decided to space out the work so I wasn’t cramming all this work in to one day. Peeled and  chopped tomatoes can be separated in to freezer safe bags for later use. For this recipe, I pulled out three bags of peeled, seeded and chopped tomatoes from the deep freezer, containing about 60 tomatoes. You can certainly scale down this recipe, but with how much we use this sauce in the winter over fresh pasta, a big batch is worth the effort.

Big Batch Tomato Meat Sauce

Yield: 13 pounds of sauce

  • 2.5 pounds bulk Italian sausage (sweet, mild or hot, depending on your spice tolerance)
  • 3 large sweet onions, diced
  • 2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 12 cloves garlic, diced
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 4 ounces sun dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 6-ounce cans no salt added tomato paste
  • 187 mil or 3/4 cup white wine
  • 60-65 medium tomatoes, peeled, deseeded, chopped tomatoes (you should end up with about 13 pounds of chopped tomatoes
Bags of defrosted peeled, seeded and chopped tomatoes ready to add to the sauce.

Brown sausage in large stock pot over medium high heat, stirring frequently, about 10-12 minutes. Add onion and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add crushed red pepper, garlic and bay leaves and cook for 5 minutes.

Browned sausage.
Browned sausage.

Add sun dried tomatoes and tomato paste and stir to incorporate, cook for 3 minutes. Add the wine and cook for 2 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and stir to incorporate.

All ingredients added, ready to simmer.
All ingredients added, ready to simmer.

Bring to a lively simmer and cook down until the sauce is thickened and the liquid has evaporated, about 90 minutes. Let cool. Portion out in separate 1-1.5 pound freezer-safe bags. Store flat in freezer. Use within 6 months for best flavor, but this has still tasted great even up to a year when stored in the deep freezer.

Simmered sauce, ready to be portioned in to freezer bags.
Simmered sauce, ready to be portioned in to freezer bags.

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