This is another recipe I developed in 2010 to take advantage of the bumper crop of tomatoes. Yes, I looked up about six different recipes, culled the best (in my opinion) from each, and added my secret ingredients (uh, huh …). The result was very tasty, but were I to change the recipe I would skip the added tomato juice.
Ingredients: (makes one gallon)
24 large vine ripened tomatoes (think Big Boy® or Better Boy® varieties)
1 cup of diced celery
1 cup of diced sweet onion
1 cup of diced sweet red pepper
1 cup of diced green pepper
1/3 cup of chopped fresh basil
3 tbsp. of Sugar
1 tsp. of Sea salt
¾ tsp. of Black pepper
4 cloves of garlic, minced
6 tbsp. of Cornstarch
1/3 cup of white or rice vinegar
1 cup of Ray’s tomato juice (I’ll skip this in the future)
¼ cup of Texas Pete’s® Hot Sauce
Peel the tomatoes by immersing each one in boiling water for about 30 seconds, then cutting them into quarters. Discard skins and stem areas. Put tomato pieces in a 6 quart pot. Heat the pot on low once all the tomatoes have been added and stir every few minutes to create some juice. Remove one cup of juice to use later with the cornstarch.
Prepare all the diced, chopped, minced ingredients and add them to the pot. Stir well. Add the sugar, vinegar, hot sauce, salt and pepper and stir well.
Put the cornstarch and the cooled cup of extracted tomato juice into a separate bowl and mix well.
Bring the contents of the pot to a boil on high heat and then reduce to a simmer and cover the pot with a lid. Let the contents simmer for 15 minutes.
Stir the cornstarch/tomato juice mixture and add it all at once to the pot. Stir continuously on medium heat until the contents again boil. Let boil for two minutes and turn the heat off and cover the pot with the lid.
You might can the stewed tomatoes immediately or you can do what I do. I let the pot contents cool, covered, and then refrigerate it overnight. Then I vacuum seal pint quantities of the stewed tomatoes. These will keep a very long time refrigerated … think two or three months as a minimum … or, if you insist, freeze the product for later use.
Honesty demands that I tell you that any introduction of air borne yeast during the vacuum sealing process will yield fermentation after vacuum sealing that will cause the vacuum sealed bags of stewed tomatoes to puff up … and that is obviously not good. If that happens I recommend you discard the product. I have had numerous successful batches and some bad batches, and I believe vacuum sealing the product while hot is the safest way to go, though it will make vacuum sealing a bit more difficult as hot liquids tend to boil up a lot during vacuum sealing. Use larger bags and smaller product quantities to overcome that problem. ==> Well, I have a new improvement to add. Use sodium benzoate (See the Food Nirvana "Dabbling in Science" section) as a preservative at a rate of 1/10th of 1 percent by weight of the product being packaged. It can be added during the cooking process, but be sure to weigh all the ingredients first to assure accuracy.