Roasted Tomato Sauce

When we moved on this place eight years ago, gardening was a fairly simple undertaking. All I needed was a small, tilled up section of ground, sunshine, and a little rain supplemented with water from our well for irrigation in the dry months of July and August. Spring fertilizer came from seasoned chicken manure from the year before. All this made my gardening endeavors cheap and easy. Then, in 2011, we took in orphaned Daisy deer – and gardening was never the same.

That spring, I had established my garden on the south side of the old barn. When Daisy came along in early June, we constructed a pen for her on the west end of the barn, bordering the garden on its north side. Then, when Daisy had grown enough to require more running space, we had to expand the deer pen, and chose to incorporate my garden area. Daisy ate some of what I had planted, but there was still plenty for everyone. In the spring of 2012, after we had released Daisy to the wild, I took back my old garden spot. Even though Daisy occasionally stopped by for a visit to nibble on tomatoes, nab a few cucumbers and blossoms,  or to hoof up a sweet potato or two, she always left plenty for us. But in 2013 when Daisy had her first set of twins, it was evident she was not going to give up ownership of her home turf. We often found her and her twin fawns resting in the deer pen – and eating my tomatoes!

Finally, we decided to establish a new garden in another location. To protect it from the orange-collared “tomato hound” that roamed the area, we set five-foot, welded-wire horse panels around the perimeter with a double gate at one end to allow access for tilling the spot with our tractor. This would be a better (and larger) setup for a garden than the more-limited deer pen had been. In the old garden area, we planted deer-friendly plants for Daisy and her growing family. I still kept herbs, lettuce, chard and a few cucumber plants in a small open patch on the north side of the house. And, in this spot, I also put in a couple of tomato plants just for Daisy, since I knew how much she loved them. As expected, she ripped a little lettuce and chard while delicately pulling cherry tomatoes from the vine, and usually ate all of my cucumbers and the vines, but you know how we are with our kids. I couldn’t help but laugh each evening watching Daisy and her twins enjoy a fresh garden salad as the sun dipped low over the woodlands.

I'll just pluck a few of these scrumptious tomatoes!
I’ll just pluck a few of these scrumptious tomatoes!
These sweet potato vines are yummy!
These sweet potato vines are yummy!

The next year, FD’s mother, who also lives on this ten acres, began lamenting that Daisy and her kids were eating out of her garden too. It was not so much that she caught the deer in her garden, it was more that ears of corn were chomped in two or were missing entirely. Plants were half-nibbled and blossoms were nipped off before they could put on fruit. So, we purchased more fencing and a gate to protect mom’s garden as well. With all of the deer-proofing we were now having to do,  gardening was becoming mighty expensive. But, I was also beginning to notice I had more of a crop to share with family and still have plenty to freeze for winter. The fenced gardens were finally producing well, without the white-tailed marauder’s hitting them daily!

Daisy looks perplexed. She found her nibbling area at my Mom-in-law's suddenly unaccessible!
Daisy looks perplexed. She found her nibbling area at my Mom-in-law’s suddenly inaccessible!
Daisy's deer pen at the old barn, now planted with a mix of plants deer love to eat in the wild.
Daisy’s deer pen at the old barn, now planted with a mix of plants deer love to eat in the wild.
My new garden space not far from the deer pen.
My new garden space not far from the deer pen.

In 2014, FD and I made the decision to clean up our diet. As we researched what it would take to plant enough vegetables and root crops to get us through a good portion of fall and winter, we realized this was a mammoth undertaking.  I also knew I would have to do some freezing and possibly canning. I had grown up helping mom can a lot of our garden produce, but I never enjoyed it. Freezing seemed easier and was a better fit for my busy schedule. And, since tomato sauces were such a big part of recipes associated with the Paleo lifestyle, which includes avoiding processed foods and preservatives, I knew I would be making my own sauces.

While looking for a good sauce recipe, I remembered that, years ago, my sis-in-law, Sissy Jo, shared a scrumptious roasted tomato soup recipe with me. The flavor was remarkable, but it was a soup – much too thin for a sauce. After several trials, I finally managed to reduce it to a thick and tasty “roasted tomato sauce” (RTS), which I freeze in pint containers for ease of use in recipes. I use this sauce for chili, stews, meatloaf, pizza, and in casseroles. It is a very versatile sauce!

The last two years, our garden produced plenty to share with family. And this year, having received more than twenty inches of rain in the month of May, I imagined an even greater crop of tomatoes for my RTS. Instead, the plants seemed to suffer with too much rain. Even my fruit trees gave up and most of the fruit dropped to the ground long before it was ripe. But, despite that the tomato crop in the main garden was poor, Daisy’s salad patch yielded a bumper crop. Yes, we still put in about five tomato plants for her and her herd, along with all of her other favorite salad fixin’s. And thankfully so, as had it not been for her cherry and plumb-sized tomatoes, I would have a scant amount of roasted tomato sauce this year!

Choose ripe tomatoes of various sizes.
Choose ripe tomatoes of various kinds and sizes.
Cut the larger tomatoes in quarters or halves - leaving the skins on. Cut the tough centers from Romas or any tomato with a hard core. I like to add whole plum, pear, patio and cherry tomatoes. Put tomatoes on a jellyroll pan along with quartered onions and garlic. Sometimes I add sweet bell peppers or even hot peppers to kick up the heat a bit. Pour 1/2 cup of olive oil (the kind for roasting) on top of all, adding a little cracked pepper. Roast tomatoes in the oven at 425 degrees for 45 minutes.
Cut the larger tomatoes in quarters or halves – leaving the skins on. Cut the tough centers from Romas or any tomato with a hard core. I like to add whole plum, pear, patio and cherry tomatoes. Put tomatoes on a jelly roll pan along with quartered onions and garlic. Sometimes I add sweet bell peppers or even hot peppers to kick up the heat a bit. Drizzle 1/2 cup of olive oil (the kind for roasting) on top of all, adding a little cracked pepper and sea salt. Roast tomatoes in the oven at 425 degrees for 45 minutes.
When you pull the roasted tomatoes from the oven they should be bubbling, crinkled, and wrinkled. The onion might be browned a bit. Transfer the vegetables and juices to a large stock pot. Add two bay leaves and put burner on low to medium and begin cooking down the juices.
When you pull the roasted tomatoes from the oven they should be bubbling, crinkled, and wrinkled. The onion might be browned a bit. Transfer the vegetables and juices to a large stock pot. Add two bay leaves and put burner on low to medium and begin cooking down the juices. A nice gentle, bubbling simmer is the perfect heat!
Stir the tomato sauce occasionally, until it reaches the desired consistency. I like my sauce very thick. Depending on the juiciness of the tomatoes, reducing the juices can take an hour to three hours. When the sauce reaches desired consistency, fish out your bay leaves, and throw in a big handful of fresh basil. Cook on low for another ten minutes, working in the wilting basil. Yes, roasted tomato sauce can be a labor of love!
Stir the tomato sauce occasionally, until it reaches the desired consistency. I like my sauce very thick. Depending on the juiciness of the tomatoes, it can take anywhere from one to three hours to reduce the juices to the proper thickness. When the sauce reaches desired consistency, fish out your bay leaves, and throw in a big handful of fresh basil. Cook on low for another ten minutes, working in the wilting basil. Yes, roasted tomato sauce can be a labor of love!
After the thickened sauce has cooled, puree it in a blender to the consistency you like. Transfer to containers for freezing.
After the thickened sauce has cooled, puree it in a blender to the consistency you like.  Sometimes I leave it a bit chunky, other times I blend it to a smooth texture. Transfer to containers for freezing.
Pints of yummy RTS stocked up for winter!
Pints of yummy RTS stocked up for winter!

So now it seems the tables have turned. This year, it was Daisy’s tomato crop that provided the resources to make our roasted tomato sauce for the winter. And with Daisy losing her babies this spring, she spent most of her time with the local herd down at the river and beyond, and was not around to eat the tomatoes we had planted for her. It is interesting how things work out sometimes. Whatever comes, I am learning to just accept, and to let be what will be. I am learning there is always a reason and that, to every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose…

I smell tomatoes in here somewhere.
I smell tomatoes in here somewhere.
I'm really busy - BURP! (Yes, deer do belch).
Salad greens are DEE LICIOUS – BURP! (Yes, deer do belch).

© 2015 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…


38 thoughts on “Roasted Tomato Sauce

  1. Daisy’s tomatoes look delicious! You’ve put me in the mood to roast some tomatoes. They make the house smell so good. Even Chris, who doesn’t like tomatoes (what?!!), agrees. Here’s a question off topic: do deer like to eat the bulbs of spring flowers, like irises and daffodils? We’re debating whether to plant the bulbs (which I saved from flowers we received by mail order last winter) or just leave them out for the animals to eat, since that’s probably what they’re going to do anyway. …

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    1. Hi Monica! The deer have never eaten my irises or daffodils. They do get to some of my annuals, but generally not the perennials or bulb plants. They also do not prefer aromatic plants (marigold, lantana) or any of my herbs. They love most all vegetables and fruits. Daisy raids our blackberries, but we always have tons of those, and she will stand on her hind legs to get to fruit. And, they eat roses and the rose bush leaves. I’m amazed at some of the woodland plants and browse – like poison ivy, tree bark, and dead leaves – that they enjoy nibbling. It’s been trial and error for us.

      Ha ha! I never liked tomatoes much either, but I learned to prepare them in ways that I enjoy them more… like roasting, or sauteing in breakfast scrambles or adding to omelets. I had never had fried green tomatoes until I moved to the south. Those are YUMMY! 🙂

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  2. I must try this recipe next year, Lori. We eat tons of tomatoe-y good things here too. We had few tomatoes this year because of stink bugs. They sucked the life right out of them and then they rotted where they hung. (Must find an organic method to get rid of them.) Yup, next year for sure!!!

    BTW, my favorite photo is that last one. Lettuce lips perfected! 😀

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    1. Hi Lynda! I put fennel in next to my tomatoes this year and I did have a few stink bugs, but not enough to harm the tomato crop. I usually try to plant something stinky, like herbs or marigolds in with my vegetables. That’s the best organic means I have found to fight the bug battle with! I think sometimes it helps with the larger varmint battle too… although that did not stop that pesky rat from stealing tomatoes, did it? 😀

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  3. Your posts are always informative, well rounded and have a seriously good message in them. I love this one as it gives us Daisy, clever gardening, solutions to problems AND a seriously good tomato sauce recipe. I will be making this if I get ANY tomatoes this year. My marauder is a lot smaller than Daisy but I did find a dead one floating in the old bathtub in Sanctuary. I think he drowned as he was used to skipping out of the glasshouse, where he feasted on everything that he stole from Sanctuary, and dropping into the full bathtub and swimming to freedom BUT the water level dropped. You just can’t rely on habit to get you out of a fix! Another life lesson methinks. Love the sauce, cheers for the recipe Lori 🙂

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    1. Oh thank you, Fran!! I hope you like the recipe, and it truly can be a labor of love some days. I do love it for the simplicity of ingredients. I adore yellow tomatoes because of the lower acidity, but they are very juicy. They take forever to cook down. As for that critter thief of yours, I think it boils down to being so into the moment of gluttony and becoming comfortable in the routine that sometimes gets us into trouble. I still can’t believe Earl did not capture the thief before he accidentally dropped into the bathtub! Has the old boy gotten lax? Could it be boredom? 😀

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      1. The rat was living inside Sanctuary and Earl patrolled the side near the glasshouse. Earl can’t get into Sanctuary as he would do more damage than a rat could even contemplate. When he is overcome with joy he barrels through any and everything, hurls himself upside down and does the dying fly routine that Angus Young from ACDC perfected last century all through whatever takes his fancy. The end result looks like a tornado wended it’s way through the yard. Best to keep Mr E out of the veggies methinks ;). The rat could exit the hole he bit through Sanctuary, sneak out and zip along the top of the fence (where Earl can’t reach) and over the front gate and off to the chook grain. Earl would have to be waiting with his questing beak right at the exit hole at a most opportune moment (most probably at night time when he is upside down snoring on our bed 😉 ). The odds were against him catching Mr Rat, BUT I am sure Mr Rat has family living under my water wicked strawberry bed and there is time and Earl is VERY patient ;).

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  4. I love this tomato recipe, I make this too! with tons of garlic and peppers roasting in there too.. but sadly i only made enough to feed us all this summer -I would make a beautiful sauce then we would eat it maybe next year we will have a better year – I have never seen a deer here not in the yard, rabbits are my problem but not so much with the cats.. The Rain got us of course. Love the Daisy chomping shots! c

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    1. Gardening is so very much about Daisy! Ha ha. I wondered if you had deer – the outdoor photographs of your land do not show many trees or even shelter belts. Being so near the woods and river, we see a vast number of various wildlife species. Most of them frequent the deer pen,as there are ways of getting in, but usually only birds bother the newest garden. As for the RTS, I sometimes make two or three batches at once, and have plenty for eating that day and some for freezing. I probably make a double batch two or three times a week during the summer months. That’s with 30 to 40 tomato plants between the house and gardens. I was so amazed that the few plants we had for Daisy brought in the bulk of this season’s tomatoes. It also made for a very concentrated sauce – I suppose it was the smaller fruits that gave it a bolder taste. It was an interesting year all around. I need to do a post of funny images of Daisy eating. Isn’t it funny how animals belch? Cracks me up every time I hear Daisy burp!

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        1. Ha ha ha! My dogs fart too, and Zoe is the only one that looks back like she’s trying to figure out what that was! Well, it is a natural body function, after all! What’s the big fuss?? 😀

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    1. I totally understand, Tom. It is interesting how some hunters are quite respectable and humble, yet others can’t wait to get a rise out of people and say the most awful things. I know when I go to the feed store to get deer feed, they are all respectful of “the deer lady” and they still ask about Daisy all these years later. It’s a wonderful thing to meet people who are respectful of nature and wildlife.

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  5. I’m guessing Earl might be a cat, but please tell me for certain! What a creature! Wonderful post and photos Lori. Gardening with deer nearby sounds about like gardening with kangaroos nearby. I plant some things that I know the roos will love and also I plant some stinky things that will keep them away from other parts of the garden. Also, my soft herbs are in a fenced area. Things like Rosemary and Sage and Thyme don’t seem to meet their taste requirements! Your method and recipe sounds delicious but alas I have no access to the good tomatoes. I have sourced organic tomato sauce and tinned tomatoes and they are an okay substitute. There’s nothing like the taste of homegrown, though! xx

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    1. Ardys, Earl is a big, handsome dog (not sure of the breed). If you check in on Fran’s blog, “http://theroadtoserendipity.com/”, Earl is the brown dog, Bezial is black. I’m fond of Earl because Fran and Steve had a drawing to give away one of Steve’s hand-carved spoons. Earl picked my walnut (they drew walnuts) and I now have a lovely Tasmanian Alder spoon in my kitchen! So, Earl is my hero. I hope to meet him one day!
      I often wonder if it was easier to find organic vegetables and products around here I might be tempted to let go of a big portion of the garden. It is a lot of work, and though I do love it, I know there will come a time when I cannot keep up with all of this anymore. I have noticed a movement towards organic and non-GMO products here in the US. I hope it will continue.
      I have never seen a kangaroo, but I have a feeling I would be feeding them too! 🙂

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        1. I know, I’m sad too. I miss her terribly. It might be a while before she is alone. She’s keeping company with other does right now, and soon the bucks will be chasing. I watched a lot of that activity last year and Daisy seems to enjoy outsmarting the bucks! Ha ha. I hope to get some great photographs of her on the run this year. She’s stunning during the rut.

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  6. The photos of Daisy are beyond cute . The pic of Daisy with a mouthful of salad is super. You really got in some nice captures. Your recipe sounds wonderful but I don’t have a place to grow very many tomatoes. I wish that I did.
    \
    Question. Do you and FD feel healthier and have more energy now with a “better” diet?

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    1. Thank you, Yvonne. I must have thousands of photos of Daisy. It was hard to pick just a few of her eating vegetables! FD and I were eating fairly healthy before we went Paleo. The biggest difference was dropping all grains, and most of the dairy (we still eat cheese from grass-fed sources), and eating only clean meats. We try to buy organic when we can. Most of the time that means an hour or more trip to the Oklahoma City area. Locally, it’s difficult to find organic and non-GMO products and produce.But to answer your question, yes, we feel much better. We both lost weight initially (I didn’t need to but it just came off), and the crazy thing was after just 3 days of clean eating we had no stomach issues, and no bloat. We both remarked just how flat our stomachs were! Within a week or two, other improvements were noticible.. skin looked healthy, less allergy issues, less joint aching. The only thing that we have not resolved that is a real problem at times is leg cramping. It started after about 6 months of Paleo eating. It seems to be worse after walking a distance or a day of physical work on the place. I have added supplemental calcium, potassium, and magnesium to our diet, but so far that has not helped. That would be the only complaint.

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      1. The answer for leg cramps is Co-Q-10. No particular brand. I happen to buy Nature Made but there are many brands, I think. It is over the counter vitamin supplement. I eat the same as you except I eat rice. My friends cardiologist told her to get it and she said it worked wonders. It really does. I take 400mg each night and many times if I forget I’ll have muscle cramps that have me hopping and crying in pain. It really does work. I have yet to figure out why my doctor never suggested it. He prescribed some terrible med that had so many side effects that I never took any and threw it in the trash.

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        1. My goodness, what timing! I’m putting in an order for non-perishables and I will just add CoQ10 to the list. No one has suggested that before. Neither FD nor I have been to a doctor in years – basically I just researched it and a chiropractor friend suggested calcium. Thank you so much for the advice. 🙂

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          1. I’ve been taking CoQ10 for probably 7 years now after my doctor suggested it. Not for any specific issues like cramps, but just for general heart health. I only take 100 mg, although I can’t remember if my doctor specified any particular dosage. Glad to hear that you two are feeling so well with the dietary changes!

            And I guess I’ll just add my other comment here instead of starting a new one below — I love that last picture of Daisy eating lettuce. So sweet.

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          2. I am going to give CoQ10 a whirl… it certainly can’t hurt. Kim, like with you… some wonderful things are happening with me. It’s like the dark clouds have lifted. I know in part it’s about good physical health, but it is also about finally letting go of so much baggage I had been carrying around. It is good to be on this new leg of the journey… and it’s kind of interesting we are experiencing some of the same freedom and happiness! 🙂

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  7. Very entertaining read, as usual! I was almost hoping to see something on gardening and cooking on this site – and there it is! We have a very small garden and have to constantly be on our toes to grow something there. If it’s not sparrows, it’s our own Mr. T, or the cats, or now, the pests that make sure not a moment is without some sort of human involvement. We are now planning a fence around the vegetable patches at least to prevent Mr. T from trampling on them. Can’t do much for the cats, thought.

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    1. Hello Mandeep! Yes, the birds pick off a lot of our vegetables too. The fruit trees are perhaps the worst – birds seem to come in droves just as the fruit is ripening. It is a constant for any gardener to keep up with watering, pest control and pet control! I don’t mind sharing but those birds really take advantage of my absence! 🙂

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    1. Hi Judith! It is a lot of work and discipline to eat this healthy but we feel so much better. I’m glad you think Daisy is a beauty. I think so too, but I’m the Mama and we always think our babies are the brightest, smartest and most beautiful! 😀

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  8. I missed seeing this post in my reader so I’m a bit late commenting, Lori. I had to smile at the habits of your “tomato hound.” It reminded me so much of a couple of goats we had. I have a few pictures of them munching on my garden produce. It was a bit annoying sometimes but seeing them with food hanging out of their mouths was quite funny and in the end I’d just laugh. Trying to keep them out required some fancy fencework too! It is interesting how Daisy’s crop thrived this year while your main one didn’t. The tomato recipe sounds and looks scrumptious! We often have tomato sauces with our meals. We enjoy our Italian meals. I can count on you to make even a recipe post into an entertaining story. 🙂

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    1. Thank you, Jane! Gardening here is so much about interaction with wildlife. I’m like you, I don’t get upset about Daisy or the birds or other varmints taking advantage of the garden goodies. The birds are probably more of a threat than Daisy and her friends. And with insects, some years we have a real problem but this year was not one of those years. This year it was too much rain, and I would never have thought too much rain would be a problem! We are always learning. 🙂

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  9. I absolutely adore that last photo of Daisy with a mouthful of lettuce.

    And your tomato sauce sounds and looks delicious. I’m like you. I grew up helping my mom can and freeze. But I do little of it myself. I don’t really like being in the kitchen.

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    1. I have so many funny photos of Daisy! Another thing we have in common – I don’t care for the kitchen either… I do not enjoy cooking. I tell FD all of the time when he retires we are splitting kitchen duty! ha ha!

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  10. I’ve not got time to read through the rest of the comments but I’m betting that photo of Daisy with a mouthful of lettuce has been a hit!!
    That RTS sound so yummy, and your photos of the process are really great!

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    1. I am already enjoying that RTS! Our weather finally turned chilly. Yes, you are correct, that photo of Daisy was a favorite. I must have dozens of photos of Daisy helping herself to something in our yard. Even my flowers and roses get a good trimming! The amazing thing is she never kills the plants… she leaves enough that plants continue to grow and produce. What a wise girl! 😀

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