Homesteading

How to Can Tomato Sauce (My Favorite All-Purpose Version) • The Prairie Homestead

how to can tomato sauce

I’ve shied away from posting a canned tomato sauce recipe forever.

Not because it’s hard…

Not because I don’t make tomato sauce…

Not because I don’t have tomatoes…

Mostly just because I’ve just been too lazy to write down my ingredients any time I make a batch

So there you have it.

Now that’s off my chest, I feel better.

Anyway.

how to can tomato sauce

Of all the things I can (like peaches with honey and cinnamon, canned apple slices, home-canned poblano salsa), tomato sauce is the most important. We use our canned tomato sauce in so many recipes during the long winter months, from homemade pasta dishes, homemade pizzas, chili, and more.

If I play my cards right, I can grow enough paste tomatoes (I love Amish Paste and San Marzano the most) in my raised bed garden to keep us stocked in tomato sauce for the whole year.

Homemade tomato sauce can easily be frozen, BUT since freezer space is always at a premium on our homestead, this is absolutely a item I prefer to can.

Plus, this particular tomato sauce recipe for canning uses a waterbath canner, so it’s the perfect recipe for beginners. (And if you are a beginner to the canning world, check out my article on how to start canning with zero special equipment so you can start canning today).

how to can tomato sauce

The Resource I Wish I Had When I Started

If you are a canning newbie, I just revamped my Canning Made Easy course and it’s ready for YOU! I’ll walk you through each step of the process (safety is my #1 priority!), so you can finally learn to can confidently, without the stress. CLICK HERE to have a look at the course and ALL the bonuses that come with it.

This is the information I wish I had when I first started canning– all of the recipes and safety information are double and triple-checked against tested and proved canning recipes and recommendations.

It’s the next best thing to you coming over to my house and canning right along with me.

Best Tips for Canning Tomato Sauce

Whether you use my personal favorite tomato sauce recipe or a different one, there are a few things to keep in mind for your tomato canning adventures:

Tip #1: Always Follow a Safe Canning Recipe

I’ve talked countless times in the past about the importance of following a safe canning recipe, because here’s the deal folks– botulism is no joke. And yes, people do indeed still get stick from improperly canned foods.

Also, tomatoes can be deceiving as they *are* an acidic food, but there are many aspects that factor into their exact acidity. To save yourself the hassle of becoming a tomato acidity detective, the simplest course of action you can take is to add a bit of lemon juice to each of your jars.

You can get the exact measurements for different sizes of jars here. Adding lemon juice or vinegar ensures your home-canned tomato recipes are acidic enough to be canned in your water bath canner– easy peasy.

how to can tomato sauce

Another important reason to always use an approved recipe for your tomato canning adventures is the ratio of tomatoes to other vegetables. Tomatoes are an acidic food, but many common tomato sauce additions, (like green pepper, onion, mushroom, or garlic), are not. You can safely add *some* of these non-acidic ingredients to home-canned tomato sauce, you’ll just need to watch your ratios.

Or, if you want to ditch ratios entirely, you can do that, but you’ll just want to pressure can the sauce instead. 

A good rule of thumb is to use no more than 3 cups of other vegetables per each 22 pounds of tomatoes.

My tomato sauce recipe is safe because it is based on the recipe in the Ball Blue Blue (as is any other canning recipe you’ll find here on my blog– I always stick to approved recipes as a starting point.)

You can learn more about canning safety in my articles here:

Tip #2: Use Optimal Tomato Varieties for Canning

I primarily grow either Amish Paste, Roma or San Marzano plum tomatoes in our garden, since tomato sauce is the #1 way my family consumes tomatoes. These paste-type varieties are meatier and contain less juice and seeds, so you’ll spend less time simmering and reducing the sauce.

how to can tomato sauce

However, even though certain tomato varieties are preferred for canning, you can still use any type you want, so don’t let your tomato type stop you from enjoying some home-canned tomato sauce!

Tips #3: Plan on Canning Tomato Sauce for an Entire Day

You probably all know by now (especially if you own my cookbook) that I am a huge fan of quick and easy recipes that don’t take a lot of time. That being said, there are a couple exceptions to my rule, and tomato sauce is one of them.

If you’re canning a sizable amount of sauce (i.e. more than just a jar or two), it will very likely take you the majority of the day to process, simmer, and then can the tomatoes. However, don’t despair– not all of this is hands-on time!

The kids and I recently processed several boxes of our homegrown tomatoes that had been ripening in the shop. Naturally, I didn’t weigh them (FAIL), but there were well over 50 pounds.

how to can tomato sauce
My sister came for a visit and we put her to work making sauce

It took us about a 90 minutes to wash, trim, and process the tomatoes into puree with our Victorio Food Mill (p.s. the best investment EVER if you are planning on doing a lot of tomato or applesauce). Yes, I do employ child labor here (they actually think it’s fun– for real).

The simmering process took 4-5 hours (I was in and out of the house while this was happening), and then I finally canned it later in the day.

It wasn’t hard work, but it did stretch throughout the day.

However, if you’re looking for a ‘quick and easy’ tomato sauce recipe for supper tonight, don’t worry– I’ve got you covered! This FAST tomato sauce recipe can be ready in 20 minutes or less. It’s not a recipe you’d want to can, but if you need some quick sauce for supper, it’s golden.

how to can tomato sauce

Canned All-Purpose Tomato Sauce Recipe

Yield: About 7 Quarts

Ingredients:

  • 45 pounds of tomatoes
  • 6 cups chopped onions (I use a food processor for this)
  • 12 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar (more to taste)
  • ¼ cup coarse sea salt (more to taste)
  • Bottled lemon juice (2 tablespoons per quart jar)
  • A water bath canner

Instructions:

Wash the tomatoes and remove the ends and any damaged spots. Quarter them and deseed them by running your fingers down the middle and scraping out the bulk of the seeds and juice. Puree the tomatoes in a food processor or blender.

how to can tomato sauce

(OR, you can run the tomatoes through a food mill and save yourself a lot of time! When I’m using my food mill, I wash them, remove any bad spots, and that’s it– the machine does the rest.)

how to can tomato sauce

Sauté the onions and garlic in the olive oil in a large pot. Add the tomatoes, pepper, sugar, and salt. Bring to a simmer and allow to reduce by about one-half. If you are using very juicy tomatoes, this can take 3-5 hours.

The most important part of homemade tomato sauce is the tasting! Tomatoes greatly differ from variety to variety, so you must taste as you go.

In order to keep the ratios of high acid to low acid foods at a safe level in this recipe, you cannot increase the amount of onions or garlic you use, but you CAN increase the herbs, sugar, or salt.

how to can tomato sauce

Once the sauce has reduced by half and the flavor is where you want it to be, add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to each pint jar and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice to each quart jar.

Ladle the sauce into the jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace.

Process pints for 35 minutes and quarts for 40 minutes in a hot water bath canner. (Keep in mind that you may have to adjust your processing time according to your altitude.)

REMEMBER: Don’t start timing until the water has returned to a boil with the filled jars inside.

Store your sealed jars in a cool, dark place. I use this all-purpose sauce in all sorts of recipes- add basil and oregano to give it an Italian twist, or add chili powder and cumin for Mexican food.

Homemade Tomato Sauce Notes:

  • Most recipes will suggest that you peel the tomatoes before you puree them. Since I despise peeling tomatoes (it’s ok for a handful, but when you’re dealing with 60 pounds of small tomatoes, it’s an utter nightmare), I always just run mine through my food mill instead. In the past when I didn’t have a food mill, I would deseed and then puree them (with the skin on). Sometimes you’ll find a bit of peel in your finished sauce, but I absolutely do not think it’s offensive at all. It’s a small price to pay to avoid the monotony of peeling a million tomatoes.
  • To make this more of an Italian-style sauce, add 3 tablespoons dried oregano and 3 tablespoons dried basil (or to taste)
  • If you prefer, you can completely omit and onion and garlic from this recipe. Technically, you can can straight tomato puree, if you wish. However, I prefer to give mine a bit more flavor to start out.
  • Sugar is important in tomato sauce recipes to help cut the acidity. However, you can leave it out if you  wish.
  • DRIED herbs and spices won’t effect the ratios of this recipe at all, so you can safely remove or add them, according to your own taste.
  • My favorite tomatoes to grow for making canned tomato sauce are Roma or San Marzanos.

how to can tomato saucePrint

Jill’s Favorite Canned Tomato Sauce Recipe

My tried-and-true canning tomato sauce recipe, perfect for pasta dishes, homemade pizza, and more.

  • Author: Jill Winger
  • Prep Time: 1-2 hours
  • Cook Time: 3-5 hours
  • Total Time: 18 minute
  • Yield: 7 quarts 1x

Ingredients

  • 45 pounds of tomatoes
  • 6 cups chopped onions (I use a food processor for this)
  • 12 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar (more to taste)
  • ¼ cup coarse sea salt (more to taste)
  • Bottled lemon juice (2 tablespoons per quart jar)
  • A water bath canner

Instructions

Wash the tomatoes and remove the ends and any damaged spots. Quarter them and deseed them by running your fingers down the middle and scraping out the bulk of the seeds and juice. Puree the tomatoes in a food processor or blender.

(OR, you can run the tomatoes through a food mill and save yourself a lot of time! When I’m using my food mill, I wash them, remove any bad spots, and that’s it– the machine does the rest.)

Sauté the onions and garlic in the olive oil in a large pot. Add the tomatoes, pepper, sugar, and salt. Bring to a simmer and allow to reduce by about one-half. If you are using very juicy tomatoes, this can take 3-5 hours.

The most important part of homemade tomato sauce is the tasting! Tomatoes greatly differ from variety to variety, so you must taste as you go.

In order to keep the ratios of high acid to low acid foods at a safe level in this recipe, you cannot increase the amount of onions or garlic you use, but you CAN increase the herbs, sugar, or salt.

Once the sauce has reduced by half and the flavor is where you want it to be, add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to each pint jar and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice to each quart jar.

Ladle the sauce into the jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace.

Process pints for 35 minutes and quarts for 40 minutes in a hot water bath canner. (Keep in mind that you may have to adjust your processing time according to your altitude.)

REMEMBER: Don’t start timing until the water has returned to a boil with the filled jars inside.

Store your sealed jars in a cool, dark place. I use this all-purpose sauce in all sorts of recipes- add basil and oregano to give it an Italian twist, or add chili powder and cumin for Mexican food.

Notes

  • Most recipes will suggest that you peel the tomatoes before you puree them. Since I despise peeling tomatoes (it’s ok for a handful, but when you’re dealing with 60 pounds of small tomatoes, it’s an utter nightmare), I always just run mine through my food mill instead. In the past when I didn’t have a food mill, I would deseed and then puree them (with the skin on). Sometimes you’ll find a bit of peel in your finished sauce, but I absolutely do not think it’s offensive at all. It’s a small price to pay to avoid the monotony of peeling a million tomatoes.
  • To make this more of an Italian-style sauce, add 3 tablespoons dried oregano and 3 tablespoons dried basil (or to taste)
  • Sugar is important in tomato sauce recipes to help cut the acidity. However, you can leave it out if you  wish.
  • DRIED herbs and spices won’t effect the ratios of this recipe at all, so you can safely remove or add them, according to your own taste.
  • My favorite tomatoes to grow for making canned tomato sauce are Roma or San Marzanos.

More Preserving Tomatoes Tips:

Source

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