George's Secret Tomato Sauce

George's Secret Tomato Sauce

Use your tomato bounty to make this flavorful sauce recipe from Burpee's owner!


20-25 'Big Mama' tomatoes full sized and ripe, stems removed
3-4 bunches celery, chopped fine
3-4 yellow onions, chopped fine
8 cloves garlic, chopped fine
6 cayenne peppers (or 10 slightly hot Italian grilling peppers), chopped fine
3-4 habanero peppers*



  1. Chop above ingredients (except tomatoes) on a cutting board.
  2. Put tomatoes in a large pot and cover with water. Bring tomatoes to a boil and quickly lower heat to simmer. When skins begin to loosen (5 minutes), remove from heat and let stand for 45 minutes and drain most of the water. When tomatoes are cool enough to handle, remove skins. 'Big Mama' has a very thin skin that peels off easily. No coring is necessary. Hand remove the few seeds that may be present. Pile segments up into a large saucepan. Set on simmer, and stir often.
  3. Meanwhile, cover bottom of a sauté or fry pan with extra virgin olive oil. I use either Pompeian or Dal Raccolto (Sicilian) or Alessi. Heat oil on lowest flame or setting, then add celery. Sauté for 15 minutes, then add onions and saute for another 15 minutes or until pieces begin to "clear" and then add peppers and simmer.
  4. After stirring and simmering vegetables for 20-30 minutes on lowest heat possible, add garlic and simmer and stir slowly for about 5 minutes. Add freshly ground pepper and sea salt. By this time, the tomatoes have simmered for about an hour.
  5. Now pour sautéed mixture of vegetables into large saucepan of simmering tomatoes. Pour in the remnant "tomato water" from the peel soak. Simmer, stirring frequently for 6-7 hours, or until texture is uniformly thick and saucy. Do not ever raise heat above simmer or low, whichever is lowest.

*Note: If you dislike habanero, try 3-4 'Hot Lemon', a smoky and fruity hot pepper that is milder.

August 31, 2021
©2023 W.Atlee Burpee & Co