adventures in freezer cooking – basic red sauce

basic red sauce

As I mentioned in my last post, I picked up a freezer cooking cookbook at the library last week.  I decided to try a few of the recipes this week and made 6  recipes over the past two days.  This should provide the two of us with dinners up until Thanksgiving… maybe longer if I supplement with other dinners in between (such as fakes and salads, if the spirit moves me).  It was a ton of work (more than I was expecting), but it’s worth it, because I don’t have to worry about making dinner for a very long time.  Whew!

It reminds me of when The Greek and I moved down South last Spring.  He was packing like a fiend, and I was all relaxed, telling him I could pack the kitchen up in an hour… meanwhile, back in the real world, it took me and my mother about 4 hours to pack it up.

The moral of the story? I am bad at time planning.

I thought I could breeze through all 6 recipes in one morning, but it took me essentially two days to get it all done.  It was exhausting – my feet hurt, my back hurt, my neck hurt.  Oy vey.  I suggest you break it up over a couple (or more) days.

Two of the recipes I made, Stuffed Manicotti and Classic Chili, required a Basic Red Sauce as an ingredient, so that’s where I started.  This recipe makes about 40 cups / 10 quarts / 2 1/2 gallons of sauce, which is a MASSIVE amount of sauce!  The recipes called for 24 cups of the sauce between them, so I figured I could freeze the remaining 16 cups and be ahead of the game next time.

Honestly, though, I couldn’t fit all of the ingredients into my largest stock pot and had to skip one 15-ounce can of sauce.  As you can clearly see in the picture above, that pot was FULL!  Feel free to cut the recipe in half or even quarters, depending on your needs.

What’s cool about this sauce is that you don’t have to cook it prior to freezing.  Super easy!  It would have been easier if I had actually shopped at a warehouse store with the massive restaurant-sized cans, but opening all of the smaller cans wasn’t too bad.  Of course, it was my husband who opened them, so maybe that’s why I think it was easy.  Ha.

Ingredients (1/4 recipe in bold)

  • 4 (12 ounce) cans tomato paste (1 (12-ounce) can)
  • 8 cups hot water (2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup dried parsley (2 tablespoons)
  • 1/2 cup minced onion (I wasn’t sure whether she meant dried or fresh, but I used dried… fresh onion is usually “chopped”) (2 tablespoons)
  • 1/4 cup minced garlic (about 36 cloves – I use those jars of pre-minced garlic, so this was easy.  I can’t imagine mincing 36 cloves of garlic by hand) (1 tablespoon)
  • 1/4 cup sugar (1 tablespoon)
  • [2 tablespoons salt – the canned tomatoes have plenty of salt, so I did not add this (2 teaspoons)]
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil (1/2 teaspoon)
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano (1/2 teaspoon)
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme (1/2 teaspoon)
  • 1 (106 ounce) or 4 (28 ounce) or 8 (14-15 ounce) cans tomato sauce (1 (28 ounce) can)
  • 1 (102 ounce) or 4 (28 ounce) or 8 (14-15 ounce) cans diced tomatoes (1 (28 ounce) can)
  1. Mix tomato paste and hot water in a large stockpot until smooth.  This would have taken a long time without my immersion blender.  Stir in parsley, onion, garlic, sugar, (salt), basil, oregano and thyme.
  2. Add tomato sauce and diced tomatoes; mix well.  Do not cook.  I wasn’t sure how much room I’d have in the pot, so I alternated 1 can of sauce with 1 can of diced tomatoes and ran out of room with 1 can of sauce left.
  3. Measure sauce into appropriate portions for immediate use. Divide remaining sauce evenly among 1-gallon freezer bags for later use.
  4. Seal and label each bag with the amount of sauce inside.  Freeze.  I have wire racks in my freezer and didn’t want the sauce freezing in between the “spokes”, so I froze the first bag on a plate and then removed the plate and stacked them afterward.

To Enjoy

  1. Completely thaw one bag in the refrigerator.
  2. Use in a recipe calling for tomato sauce, or simmer in a saucepan over medium-low heat for 20 minutes and pour over your favorite pasta.
  3. To use in a meat sauce, brown and drain 1 pound ground beef for every 8 cups of sauce; add cooked beef to sauce and gently reheat.

Stay tuned for more posts about the freezer recipes I made this week…

Note: The “Print and PDF” button below will allow you to delete as much of the text and pictures  as you like prior to printing, so you’ll save on ink and paper.

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