I do a lot of gardening and canning, and I want to share my favorite shortcut.
The best-tasting apple butter recipes include cider, but boiling down a pot of puréed apples and a gallon of cider takes all day stirring, and it spots the wall and ceiling with its little eruptions of apple mixture. Far fewer hours and less of an upper-arm workout are involved if you first boil down the cider with the spice bag suspended in it, and then add the apples and sweetener for only the last bit.
After I realized how much easier apple butter could be, I looked at my tomato sauce and wondered, “Why not?”
When putting tomatoes through the colander or food mill, I let the almost-clear liquid run off first, and then pour it into a large pot and cook it down rapidly with an occasional stirring. I add the thick tomato purée only at the end. Less tomato solids in the pot during the long cooking time equals less chance of them settling to the bottom and burning. Some cooks dump the liquid down the drain rather than take the time to boil it down. If that’s you, next time, give it a taste before you throw it away. The watery part is sweeter and more flavorful than the purée alone, and it likely contains nutrients, too.
You could also freeze or can the liquid as “tomato juice” and make a great sauce from the purée with less cooking time. — MOTHER
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