Authentic Italian Tomato Sauce with Angela Corbo Gier

Angela and I were meant to make tomato sauce together. We reconnected after two important people to us, my dad and her husband, were inducted into the prestigious South Dakota Hall of Fame. Her husband, Delta David Gier, is an accomplished conductor of the South Dakota Symphony. My dad, Jack Marsh, is an active community member, retired journalist and founder of South Dakota Newswatch.

The Gier, Marsh, Green and Jensen families share stories after The 2020 SD Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.

During an after-party in Chamberlain, we talked about all we had in common. We both had loads of tomatoes in our garden which needed to be preserved or eaten soon. We both had a love of authentic Italian food- she had grown up in an Italian-Irish home and me in an Italian-American town. And we both had a free weekday we wanted to share together.

Two years ago while cleaning her parents’ house, she discovered 15 lonely tomato seeds. Asking her mom about them, she replied they were brought over from Italy 30 years ago. Angela planted them and six healthy plants emerged. From each subsequent tomato, she collected hundreds of seeds! Now with all these precious tomatoes, she searched for an equally special recipe .

Angela recommended Pascuale Sciarappa’s recipe and that I watch his video. His personality and accent reminded her of her grandfather and reminded me of several grandparents of my friends.

Here is our version of Pascuale’s recipe in case you are swimming in your hard-earned tomatoes and would like to create something equally as special and delicious.

Discard the stem and any diseased part of the tomato. Then cut in quarters.
Squeeze juice and seeds into bowl with colander.
Keep an eye out for hungry Labradors!
Let tomatoes simmer on low heat for 45min.
Pour juice and seeds from bowl under strainer through a sieve.
Take seeds from sieve and place them in mason jar with water.
Cover the jar with a paper towel and secure it with a rubber band. Let it sit until fuzzy scum forms. Pour off the top and rinse them in a sieve. Dump the seeds onto a smooth flat dish or glass cutting board to separate and dry. Store dry seeds for next year’s crop.
Tomato juice is delicious fresh. Consider using as substitute for water in savory dishes, soups or baked goods.
While Angela continued processing tomatoes, I used strained tomato juice instead of water in a cast-iron bread recipe.
Run cooked tomatoes through a food mill and return purée to the stove.
“Beth! I have to get a photo of you pouring this in! Look how beautiful that color is!”
Simmer on medium heat for 4-6 hours.
While sauce is thickening on the stove, feed tomato scraps to the pigs or add them to your compost.
Finally, fill sterilized mason jars with finished sauce and add fresh basil sprigs to taste. Be sure to immerse basil in the jars before placing lids and using a water bath.

I am grateful Angela would spend the day with me laughing and telling stories. The day was yet another reminder of how food brings people together in the most positive, productive and life-giving ways. Can’t wait to find an equally special night to open my jars of sauce!

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