No store bought tomato sauce compares with the flavor of homemade. Capture summer in a jar with this seasoned tomato sauce recipe for home canning.
I talk about canning tomato sauce a lot here at Grow a Good Life, especially this year as I faced the challenge of preserving a bumper crop. It seems I constantly had baskets of ripe tomatoes to work through for the last two months. Now that the last tomato harvest is simmering on the stove, I thought it was time to share the tomato sauce recipe and method I use to preserve the majority of my homegrown tomato harvest.
Growing up in an Italian household, the only tomato sauce we were aware of was the homemade kind made from tinned or fresh tomatoes in season. There were no jars of purchased tomato sauce in our pantry. As an adult, I continued the tradition cooking up large batches of homemade tomato sauce and freezing it for future meals.
When I began growing a garden of my own, one of the first things I learned to can was tomato sauce from homegrown tomatoes. Eventually, I made it my yearly goal to grow enough tomatoes to provide a sufficient amount of canned tomato sauce to last us until the following season.
Tips for Canning Tomato Sauce
Follow a Safe Canning Recipe: If you are canning tomato sauce, is important to use recipes that are formulated and tested for safe home canning. When I make tomato sauce for canning, I follow the tomato sauce recipe in the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving for “Seasoned Tomato Sauce.” This is the closest to the homemade tomato sauce I grew up with.
The only differences between the recipe below and the Ball Seasoned Tomato Sauce is this recipe is cut in half. The ratio of ingredients is the same. I just find working with 22.5 pounds of tomatoes is much easier to manage since I only have two large pots to cook down the sauce.
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I also reduce the sauce by slow cooking it over low heat for a longer period to preserve flavor rather than cooling over medium-high heat as indicated in the Ball recipe. Sometimes this takes all day, but the flavor is worth the effort.
Prevent Botulinum: When canning tomatoes, an acid must be added to your jars before filling to prevent the growth of C. Botulinum bacteria, which causes botulism. I’ve used bottled lemon juice in the past, but now find it easier to use Citric acid. Citric acid also doesn’t change the flavor like lemon juice can.
Select meaty, plum type tomatoes for a thick and flavorful sauce. My favorites are Amish Paste, Juliet, Roma, and San Marzano. Paste tomatoes are meaty with thick walls and have very little water content. You can still use other types of tomatoes, but it will take longer for the extra water to cook out.
Initially cooking your tomatoes with the skins and seeds aids in extracting the natural pectin that will help thicken the sauce. After the tomatoes have softened, I run them though a through a food strainer or food mill to remove skins, seeds, and to smooth out the sauce. Then return the pots to the stove, add the remaining ingredients, and simmer on low heat until the sauce is reduced by half.
The way I do the initial cooking depends on the temperature. If it is hot outside, I fill my largest pots with sliced tomatoes and cook them on the stovetop until they soften and reduce their juices. If the weather is cooler, I turn on my oven I fill my roasting pans with sliced tomatoes and roast them in the 325°F/ 177°C oven for about an hour or until they are soft. Roasting helps to reduce the extra moisture and adds a lovely, deep tomato flavor to the finished sauce.
- Water Bath Canner
- 8 pint jars or 5 quart jars
- Lids and bands
- Food strainer or food mill, or sieve
- Lids and bands
- Canning tools: lid lifter, jar lifter, canning ladle, funnel, and bubble popper Plus basic kitchen supplies such as a large sauce pot, large bowl, small pot, towels, knife, large spoon, potato masher, and a cutting board.
Prepare your tomatoes by washing in plain water. Cut them in half or quarters and add to your sauce pots.
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Sauté the onions and garlic in olive oil until soft, then add to the saucepans.
Remove skins and seeds. As the tomatoes simmer, they will release their juices. After the tomatoes and the vegetables are soft, turn off the heat and allow the sauce to cool. Run the cooled tomato sauce through a food strainer or food mill to remove skins, seeds, and to smooth out the sauce. Return the sauce to the stove, add the remaining ingredients, and simmer until the sauce is thickened.
Additional Canning Information:
USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning How to Can: Getting Started at the Ball Website 6 Tips to Prepare for Canning Season
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