This is a great recipe to either can or freeze, when an abundant tomato harvest means that you need to utilize every possible option to use them up! It’s also more healthy and better tasting than store-bought. For organic or homegrown tomatoes, I do NOT skin them.
16 cups Roma or Amish Paste tomatoes, chopped roughly
1 cup red bell peppers, diced
1/2 to 1 cup onions, diced (or 1/4 to 1/2 cup dehydrated diced onions)
2-3 bay leaves
3 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, chopped (or 2 tablespoons dried basil)
2 teaspoons fresh oregano, chopped (or 1 tablespoon dried oregano)
1 tablespoon sea salt
4-6 garlic cloves, minced (or 2 tablespoons jarred minced garlic)
1-2 tablespoons honey (optional, if you prefer it sweeter)
1 – Wash and chop tomatoes. I simply quarter them then slice sideways through the quarters 2-3 times so they are in rough pieces. It is NOT necessary to blanch and remove skin in this recipe!
2 – Combine all ingredients in a large crockpot, and cook on High for one hour, then turn to Low, prop the lid ajar with a toothpick to let steam escape, and let cook 12+ hours. I set this up during the day and let it cook overnight. The lycopene in tomatoes is released during long, slow cooking, so you are actually making your tomato paste more nutritious with a long cook time! The released steam will condense your tomato paste so it isn’t so watery.
3 – Let cool somewhat after cooking. (I remove the lid entirely)
4 – Remove the bay leaves.
5 – Process in batches through a food processor until smooth. This micro-minces the very soft skins so they are virtually undetectable in the final product. Dump batches into stockpot as you go, and reheat gently as you prepare 1/2 pint jars for canning (boiling them in hot water for 10+ minutes, and place lids in very hot but not boiling water to soften).
6 – Here in Billings, Montana we are at 3500 feet elevation, so I add a bit of processing time. Process 1/2 pint jars for 50 minutes in hot water bath.