My favorite family gatherings are when we make ajvar and tomato sauce. We stay at our country house and we peel the peppers or strain the tomatoes. Sometimes we cook jam. We dry the jars in the Sun. When I was a kid we used to run around the yard, climb the trees, laugh… Every year we do this…
Homemade Tomato Sauce
40 kg tomatoes
4 bundles of fresh parsley leaves
leaves from 2 celeriacs
3 kg yellow bell peppers
2 kg onions
salt to taste
Thoroughly wash tomatoes and remove the stems and any parts that are not good. Chop it and then puree using a special tool for separating skin and seeds from the juice and pulp (we use something like this, but it’s available also under the name of tomato strainer). I strain it through the press 2-3 times. How many times, depends on multiple factors such as whether your machine is a metal or plastic one, how tight the spiral is… Anyway, you keep straining until the skins look as dry as it’s not possible to strain any juice no more
Pour the strained juice into a very large pot and start cooking it. On a wooden stove if possible Take a bit smaller pot (but large enough) and pour some of the juice in it and add cleaned and de-seeded pepper and peeled and sliced onions.
Add celeriac and parsley leaves. Tie them into little bouquets because when the cooking is done you’re gonna throw them away. Cook and stir both pots often.
Wash the bottles thoroughly and let them dry in the Sun.
Cook peppers and onions that are in a smaller pot until pepper is that soft that you can peel it easily. In the meantime, roast some peepers for a salad on the stove
When pepper is cooked, discard celeriac and parsley leaves and then puree peeled peppers and onions using the tomato juicer. If you use plastic strainer wait for it to cool down a bit before straining. Then pour the puree into a large pot and continue to cook. And add salt to it. To your taste.
How long you cook it depends on how thick you want it. My family cooks it thick, but it’s still good enough so you can drink it as a mushy juice.
Near the end of cooking, place the bottles on the side of the stove that’s farther away from the part under which is the flame. This is because we want to heat the bottles so they don’t crack when we pour the hot sauce in it (do it like with the jars for ajvar).
Also you need to prepare a trough or something similar and fill it with blankets because that’s where you’ll tuck the filled bottles in
When the sauce is cooked, transfer the bottles on a wooden board and pour the sauce using a ladle and a funnel. Cover them up with cellophane and rubber band. Work fast! Use 2 square sheets of cellophane and the side that will touch the bottle neck wipe with a medicinal alcohol.
Tuck the bottles into blankets and leave it like that for 48h. After that time, transfer the bottles into a dark and dry place. Basement will be the best.
Note: My grandma cooked 2 batches of this. One like in this recipe, and the other also this recipe, but much ticker. She used to put it in jars and that was something like the Italian passata di pomodoro. If you don’t want to cook 2 batches and still want some thick homemade tomato puree you can strain this sauce through a thick sieve. The juices that remain can be used to be added into a soup so there’ll be no waist