Our kitchen is seriously a maze of black crates. Each black crate is full almost to the top with peppers and tomatoes.
It always amazes me how much we are usually able to pull out of our garden this time of year. It’s like the tomatoes, peppers, potatoes and carrots have rallied for one last, final encore before the first hard frost. It’s a performance I am truly blessed to experience.
We don’t like to let anything go to waste. And so our own dance begins, as we spend many hours over many days preserving this late harvest. In the end, we get to fill our larder with healthy, delicious food that will last us well beyond the winter months and into next harvest.
And for that I am thankful.
We made a new kind of tomato sauce this year, and I wanted to share it with you. I think it turned out pretty good, and what I like about it is that it’s not your traditional sauce. The secret is using smoked vegetables, which gives the sauce a sultry flavor.
I think this will make an excellent base for bbq or enchilada sauce, and I am thinking about using it to make some smoked ketchup over the weekend. I also think it will do just fine with spaghetti or meatloaf. Wherever your cravings might take you, I think you’ll like this recipe.
Okay, enough of my ramblings. You’re here for the recipe after all. So let’s get to it!
What You’ll Need
Smoker – We do all of our smoking with a pellet smoker. I used apple pellets because the flavor is a little more mild than oak or mesquite. If you don’t have a smoker, you could roast your tomatoes on the grill or in the oven at low temperature, but you won’t get the wood smoke flavor that I was after.
Pressure Cooker – We steam canned our sauce, which is very similar to water bathing. Steam canning is a little more efficient and requires less water. If you prefer to water bath you would use the same time shown in the recipe below. We used a standard 16 quart pressure cooker for this recipe.
Food Mill – We use an attachment on our Kitchen Aid stand mixer, which makes this process super easy.
Jars – This recipe will fill about nine pint sized jars. We had a little extra and were able to make an additional half-pint sized jar.
Aluminum or Tin Pans – You’ll use these to smoke your tomatoes and peppers. We get large packs at Sam’s Club, and then reuse them for putting out food scraps to the chickens.
- 24 lbs of Tomatoes (we used a variety of Amish Paste, San Marzano & Brandywine)
- 6 Bell peppers
- 3 Banana peppers
- Citric Acid
- Sea Salt
Preparing Tomatoes for the Smoker
- Wash tomatoes, then slice into chunks. Remove any bruised or moldy spots. Place them cut side up in your aluminum pans, crowding in as many as you can get without stacking.
- Wash and cut peppers and place into their own aluminum pan.
- Preheat your smoker to 250 degrees. When ready, smoke your tomatoes and peppers for 2 hours.
- Let everything cool after you remove them from the smoker for 5-10 minutes.
- NOTE: We had to do two rounds of smoking in order to get through all 24 lbs of tomatoes.
Making & Canning the Sauce
- Run the tomatoes and peppers through your food mill, capturing the juices in a stock pot.
- Cook on high heat until the sauce starts to boil, then let boil for 10 minutes.
- Reduce heat to low and let the sauce simmer down to the desired thickness. Make sure to stir so it doesn’t stick.
- Once the sauce is to a thickness of your liking, use an immersion blender to smooth it out (optional). Then you’ll be ready to start the canning process.
- Fill 9 pint size jars with water. Set up your pressure cooker, and then dump the water from each jar into the cooker.
- Add 1/2 tsp sea salt and 1/4 tsp of citric acid to each jar.
- Fill each jar with sauce, leaving 1/2 inch head space. Add lids and rings and then place into the pressure cooker.
- Lock the lid on your pressure cooker. On high heat, bring the cooker to a boil until the the pressure gauge pops up. Then reduce heat and cook for 40 minutes.
- When done, make sure you let the pressure cooker cool a bit before unlocking the lid. Be careful of any steam remaining in the cooker.
- Remove jars and let cool. You should hear the lids popping almost immediately as each jar seals.
If you try our Smoked Tomato Sauce, make sure you drop us a line to let us know what you think. You can leave a comment below, or visit us on our Facebook page.
Even better yet, share pictures of your homemade sauce! It would make our day to see what you’ve been up to in the kitchen.
Smoked Tomato Sauce
- Pressure Cooker
- 24 lbs Tomatoes
- 6 Bell Peppers
- 3 Banana Peppers
- Citric Acid
- Sea Salt
- Wash and slice tomatoes into chunks. Then place them into a tin pan. Slice peppers and place them in a separate tin pan.
- Set temperature on smoker to 250. Smoke tomatoes and peppers for 2 hours.
- Run tomatoes and peppers through a food mill, letting juices flow into a stock pot. When finished, move pot to the stove and bring to a slow boil.
- Let the sauce boil for a few minutes, stirring, then reduce heat to low. Let sauce thicken on the stove to the desired consistency. Use an immersion blender to smooth out sauce when its ready to be transferred to jars.
- Fill 9 sterilized pint jars with water, then dump water into your pressure cooker. Add ½ tsp salt and ¼ tsp citric acid to each jar. Then carefully fill each jar with sauce, leaving ½ inch head space.
- Place canning lids and rings on jars and finger tighten. Then place jars into your pressure cooker. Lock the lid on the pressure cooker and set on a burner.
- Turn on burner to high heat and let pressure build until the valve on your pressure cooker pops up. Then lower burner to medium and let contents cook for 40 minutes.
- After 40 minutes, turn off burner heat and let your pressure cooker sit for at least 10 minutes before opening lid. Be careful of steam left in the cooker when opening!
- Remove jars from pressure cooker and let them sit to cool. Lids should start popping immediately.