Tomato sauce does more than ignite taste buds all over the world with its fresh, savory flavor; it brings family and friends around the table to tell old stories, share laughs, and create new memories. Near the end of summer, as tomatoes become perfectly ripe, many families and friends come together to make sauce that will last the whole year. This tradition, which has been passed on by generations of Italian Americans, naturally is called “Sauce Day.”
The tomato sauce operation requires careful planning and dedication. The week before sauce day, preparations begin. Bushels of tomatoes are picked up from the local farm as jars from the previous year are collected and cleaned. One lucky family member’s backyard or garage transforms into a factory, meticulously prepared for each stage of the sauce making process–each station with its own proper set up. Once everything is ready for the big day, family members and friends come over bright and early, equipped with sharp knives and workday apparel, ready to get messy. There is a job for everyone on sauce day. Whether you are deemed “supervisor” of the day or you just passed by to witness the event, there is something for everyone to do.
The first step of the process is to wash the tomatoes! Until kids are old enough to hold a knife, they often begin their sauce-making journey at step one.
Once washed, the tomatoes are cut in half, and the top of the tomato along with any bruised portions are removed. Tomato juice is squeezed out, and the tomato is placed in a bucket ready to be cooked down.
The tomatoes are then cooked down in a large pot until they are ready to go through the tomato strainer. This machine squeezes the extra juice out of the sauce, and removes the tomato skin and seeds.
The fresh sauce is transferred back into a pot, and goes back on the burner. The sauce is then either seasoned with salt, onions, and basil, or left plain. The seasoned sauce will be ready to go once the jar is opened. Plain sauce is the perfect foundation for variations, and can be easily customized for different dishes. Depending on the consistency of the sauce, tomato paste may be needed at this stage to thicken the sauce.
As the sauce nears readiness, jars are heated and prepared with a few pieces of basil in each jar. The lids are marked with the current year and seasoned sauce is marked with the word cunzata, meaning “seasoned” in Sicilian. The sauce is poured in and sealed! Jars are placed in a warm location, allowing them to further seal.
Once the day is done, and the last jar has been poured, everyone sits down together to finally enjoy the finished product.
Whether your family makes their own sauce or not, everyone can agree that sauce is an essential part of Italian cuisine. We enjoy it over pasta, we toss our meatballs in it, and let’s not forget about pizza! DITALIA offers a variety of carefully chosen sauces guaranteed to perfect your Sunday dinner.
Celebrate amazing sauce with us!