Canning and Making Pasta

The book is out to beta readers and the cover art is in-work, so this week is all about family pasta night!

We are limiting our interaction to immediate family still, but that made an evening of making pasta and sauce with my sister and her two kids a perfect weekend event. I’m glad my husband and I planned ahead and did a test run last week. If we had tried this with all the refreshers needed for the pasta making with the two of them impatiently breathing down our necks, it would have never worked. We also did most of the preparation before they arrived.

Starting with the sauce.

The sauce we make is an old family recipe from my husband’s side. If you are going to use canned tomato sauce, they say the only possible option is Hunt’s. This is partially because other sauces often have sugar as an added ingredient, which is an absolute no. It is like he can taste the sugar in a sauce before the plate touches the table. So…no sugar. The Hunt’s loyalty goes beyond that; though, as even finding another brand without sugar is not an option. So, of course we bought eight of those giant cans for current and future sauce making needs.

Today it was only one giant can with some water added, then spices. Bring to a boil and simmer for eight hours. Yes, eight hours. If you were curious about the water add, this is why. We started it early in the morning so it would be ready for our family activities later in the day. Over those hours it evaporates down to a nice, thick sauce.

Ravioli Time!

The sausage and cheese stuffing also happened to be two-thirds spinach and zucchini, so we mixed it up ahead of time to avoid questions from the kids that might end with them judging the poor vegetables too harshly. My husband also made one batch of the pasta dough as they were expected to arrive. This was so we could distract them with the pasta machine when the time arrived for the long eight minutes of kneading.

Ten to fifteen minutes of corralling excited children later, we each had our pile of flour with egg and started mixing and kneading with varied success. All told, we made six batches for close to one hundred ravioli and a few nests of scrap mini linguini. About half would be frozen for later use with the extra sauce, depending on how many the kids ate.

Fortunately, they are pretty good about trying new things. They wanted to start out with only two each in case they did not like them. I am happy to report it did not stop at two. It ended up around eight to ten with all the work they put in making dinner and running around being told not to scream in the house driving their hunger up. Review from my niece: “It was really good. I would do this again.” High praise indeed.

Canning Our Sauce.

Canning is one of my periodic hobbies. I’m not an expert, but I have done a variety of canning with relatively good success. One of the reasons we buy the giant cans of tomato sauce is so we are able to can a good portion of it for future use. It takes so long, there is no reason not to make a larger batch.

I like to use the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving for my canning instructions. There is a larger and more detailed book I also have, but this one is small enough to move around easily and has the key recipes I need for my usual canning. I have enough jars at this point I only need to buy new lids regularly, and early on I purchased the bundle with the basket and grabber.

Of the sauce we did not use for dinner, we canned two quarts and two pints that all sealed up nicely. It is always comforting to hear the pop of them sealing shortly after removing from the water bath. I have done enough of these to know that if you have to wait too long, it is probably not happening even if you try to wait the 24 hours.

If my cucumber seeds ever sprout, maybe you will hear about some pickles this summer!