Better than ketchup, and more versatile. This sauce is a recent discovery that will make it into my repertoire. Canning tomatoes is a yearly ritual for me. Mounds of ripening plum tomatoes reduce to a few precious jars of tomato puree for the pantry. Simple sauce is a staple, a basic ingredient for soups and stews and sauce. I don’t think of it as a finished product. When I get bored with that production, I turn to canning sauces that can be used right from the jar: Provençale-style Tomato Sauce with Orange and Rosemary, Tomato-Ginger Ketchup, Ranchero Sauce, and now a new one, a hot pepper and tomato sauce.
I stumbled on this in my search for ways to preserve peppers, which started with Linda Ziedrich’s The Joy of Pickling. The sauce can be made hot or mild, depending on the red peppers you choose. I used half ripe red jalapenos and half sweet red bell peppers. It was pretty spicy but after canning and storing it, the bite in the peppers will soften.
Tomato-Pepper Sauce, adapted from Linda Ziedrich
4½ lb ripe plum tomatoes
½ lb sweet red peppers, seeded and coarsely chopped
½ lb mildly hot red peppers such as jalapenos, seeded and coarsely chopped
3½ c distilled white vinegar or cider vinegar (I used 1½ c white, 2 c cider)
6 cloves garlic
2 tsp pickling salt (or Kosher salt)
Peel the tomatoes: plunge them in boiling water for a few seconds, transfer to a bowl of ice water and slide the skins off. De-seed and coarsely chop them into a large non-reactive saucepan.
In a food processor, coarsely grind the peppers with 1½ c vinegar and add them to the tomatoes. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook vigorously until reduced by half, about 40 minutes.
Pass the tomato-pepper mixture through the medium screen of a food mill and return the puree to the saucepan. Add the remaining 2 c of vinegar, garlic and salt, and boil the mixture, stirring often, until it’s thick, about 50-60 minutes. (Cook for a shorter time if you want a thinner sauce.)
Prepare kettle and jars for water bath canning. Fill the jars, leaving about ½ inch headspace, and seal with two-piece lids. Process for 15 minutes after the water returns to a boil. Turn off the heat, remove the canner lid and let the jars sit for 5 minutes until removing them to a counter to site undisturbed until cool. If not canning, store in jars or bottles in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.
Makes about 3 pints (I used 4 eight-ounce jars and 4 four-ounce jars).