How to Can Homemade Tomato Sauce


* This article contains affiliate links. For more information, please read my Affiliate Disclosure.

 

Learn how to can homemade tomato sauce with a water bath canner or a pressure canner and always have the makings of a delicious meal on hand! #howtocantomatosauce #homemadetomatosauce #tomatocanningrecipesWhen it comes to home-canned food, tomato sauce reigns supreme in terms of versatility.

I don’t know about you, but in our house we eat a lot of tomato-based dishes; Pastas with marinara or bolognese sauce, pizzas topped with homemade pizza sauce, soups and stews with tomato sauce as the base, casseroles and bakes like cabbage rolls and lasagna… The list goes on and on.

For this reason, we go through a ton of tomato sauce. And since I like to grow, preserve and prepare as much of our own food as possible, this means we grow A LOT of tomatoes, and we can A LOT of tomato sauce with those homegrown tomatoes so that we always have what we need on hand to prepare our tomato-based meals from scratch.

Related: 6 Hacks for Growing A Bumper Crop of Tomatoes

This basic tomato sauce recipe has just three ingredients: Tomato sauce, a little bit of salt and a splash of lemon juice (for safe preservation purposes).

I don’t typically add any herbs or spices to my home-canned tomato sauce because I can dry those herbs and then add them when I’m ready to use the sauce. This way the tomato sauce stays really neutral and versatile, so I can use it for whatever I want.

Having jars of basic tomato sauce on hand is much like having a blank painter’s canvas that you can use as a foundation to create whatever you like. You can add Italian herbs like dried basil and oregano for a pizza or pasta dish, or season the sauce with cumin and chilli powder for a Mexican-inspired dish when you’re ready to prepare a meal.

That being said, if you’d like to add some herbs to this tomato sauce, I’ve included instructions on how to do so safely, because if you do intend to can this sauce, you’ll need to stick to the tested amounts in order to ensure a safe finished product.

 

Water bath canning vs. pressure canning tomatoes

The general rule when it comes to home canning is that high acid foods can be canned in a boiling water bath while low acid foods MUST be canned in a pressure canner.

High acid foods include things like fruits, jams and jellies, pickles, etc. 

Low acid foods include things like vegetables, meats, stocks and broths, soups, combination meals, etc.

* For more information or if you’re new to home canning, I highly recommend getting familiar with the basics of water bath canning and/or pressure canning before you get started.

In order to qualify as high acid, a food must have a PH of 4.6 or lower. Most high acid foods like fruits and pickles fall well under that 4.6 marker, but tomatoes tend to straddle the line between acid and non-acidic, so they are treated differently than all other fruits and vegetables when it comes to canning.

Some tomato varieties are exactly a 4.6 on the PH scale, while others are either higher or lower (making them either less acidic or more acidic). 

In addition, tomatoes become less acidic the longer they’re allowed to ripen on the vine.

Since there’s no real way to know how acidic each batch of tomatoes is, they must either be acidified with lemon juice when water bath canning, or they must be pressure canned to ensure a safe final product.

That being said, even pressure canned tomatoes require the addition of bottled lemon juice (or citric acid). This is because the process for pressure canning tomatoes does not actually heat the tomatoes more than water bath canning. Rather, it offers a quicker cook time than water bath canning.

According to the USDA’s National Center for Home Food Preservation website, “There has not been a properly researched process for pressure canning of low-acid tomatoes without added acid, so the available process times still require the addition of acid as if they are being processed in boiling water.”

So whether you decide to water bath can your tomato sauce or pressure can it, you’ll need to either add lemon juice or citric acid to ensure a safe end product.

I’ve included instructions for both water bath canning and pressure canning tomato sauce so you can choose the method you prefer.

Learn how to can homemade tomato sauce with a water bath canner or a pressure canner and always have the makings of a delicious meal on hand! #howtocantomatosauce #homemadetomatosauce #tomatocanningrecipes

 

Choosing the right tomatoes for canning

There are countless varieties of tomatoes out there. This is especially true if you’re a gardener or homesteader growing heirloom varieties.

(By the way, I HIGHLY recommend that you try growing tomatoes at home if you haven’t yet. There are SO MANY cool varieties you can grow at home that you’ll never find in stores! Read more about how to grow tomatoes from seed right here, and check out some of the incredible varieties of tomatoes you can grow at home here – affiliate link).

The best tomatoes for canning, however, are paste tomatoes (also known as plum tomatoes). This is because paste tomatoes are meatier with less liquid and less seeds than slicing tomatoes. While they’re not great for fresh eating, they’re excellent for canning and making tomato sauce because there’s less liquid to cook off and less seeds to either filter out or that will get blended in with the sauce.

San Marzanos, Romas and Amish Paste tomatoes are some of the most popular. 

Here on Vancouver Island, we grow San Marzanos as well as a dual purpose variety called Ardwyna Paste tomatoes. The Ardwynas are a local heirloom variety and are hardtop come by, but if you do happen upon some meds one day, I highly recommend then as they work great as both a paste tomato and a slicer!

Either way, choose a paste variety of tomato for canning purposes.

 

How (and why) to freeze tomatoes before canning

If you grow your own food, you know that everything seems to come on at once and, seemingly overnight, you find yourself elbows deep in produce that needs to be preserved before it goes bad.

In some cases, this means you need to break out your canner right away and start processing your fruits and veggies while they’re at their peak. Vegetables like cucumbers need to be processed fresh and turned into pickles right away before they go soft. The same is true for fruits like peaches.

But in the case of tomatoes, not only can you toss them in the freezer first before you’re ready to can them, it’s actually easier to peel them if you freeze them first.

This works great for us because while I’m busy canning everything else, I can just toss my tomatoes in the freezer and worry about canning them later in the year when I have more time.

In fact, I’ve been known to do a lot of my tomato sauce canning in January when I finally get around to pulling the bags out of the freezer!

But even if you only freeze them for a day or two, they’ll be much easier to peel and prepare for canning if they’re frozen first.

To freeze tomatoes, first wash them and remove the cores. Then toss them in a freezer bag and freeze until frozen solid.

Simple!

Learn how to can homemade tomato sauce with a water bath canner or a pressure canner and always have the makings of a delicious meal on hand! #howtocantomatosauce #homemadetomatosauce #tomatocanningrecipes

 

How to peel tomatoes

If you’ve frozen your tomatoes first, peeling is a cinch. Simply run frozen tomatoes under hot water and slip the skins right off!

If you decide to peel them fresh, there are a couple ways you can go about this…

Option 1: Blanch tomatoes in boiling water for about 30 seconds, then plunge them into an ice water bath until the skins begin to slip off. Once you see the skins begin to peel off, remove tomatoes from the ice water and peel the rest of the skins off with your hands.

Option 2: Use a food mill to remove the skins. If you have a food mill, this is an easy way to removes the skins and turn your tomatoes into sauce at the same time! However if you want to keep any of the tomatoes whole for any reason, you’ll want to peel them by hand.

Learn how to can homemade tomato sauce with a water bath canner or a pressure canner and always have the makings of a delicious meal on hand! #howtocantomatosauce #homemadetomatosauce #tomatocanningrecipes

 

How to make homemade tomato sauce

Once your tomatoes are cored and peeled, the hardest part of your work is already done! 

From here, all you need to do is toss them in a large stockpot and start cooking them down.

If your tomatoes are frozen, you’ll need to cook them for a little bit longer until they begin to warm up and cook down. However if they’re frozen, what I like to do is leave them in the pot with the lid on for a couple hours before cooking and a lot of water will naturally drain out as they begin to thaw. I then pour that excess water out before I begin to cook them down. This makes for a thicker sauce in less time.

If you’re starting with frozen tomatoes, heat them over medium heat –stirring frequently to prevent scorching– until they’re completely thawed and begin to soften.

Once tomatoes are thawed (or if using fresh tomatoes), bring them to a boil over medium-high heat. Use a potato masher to help crush the tomatoes down. Continue cooking, stirring and crushing tomatoes until all of the tomatoes are soft and have released their juices (about 10 to 15 minutes). 

Using an immersion blender, blend the tomatoes until smooth. Alternatively, transfer in batches to a blender or food processor and blend before returning sauce to the pot. 

Bring sauce to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to medium-high and boil until volume is reduced by about half. (You may want to use a splatter guard to keep the sauce from splattering all over your kitchen as it cooks down!)

Learn how to can homemade tomato sauce with a water bath canner or a pressure canner and always have the makings of a delicious meal on hand! #howtocantomatosauce #homemadetomatosauce #tomatocanningrecipes

 

How to can homemade tomato sauce

To can your tomato sauce, start by preparing your canner and jars. This process will be slightly different depending on whether you decide to water bath can your sauce or pressure can it. (See specifics below).

Once your jars and canner are ready, fill each jar with bottled lemon juice and salt (if using).

For pint jars, fill each pint jar with 1 tablespoon bottled of lemon juice and ½ teaspoon of salt.

For quart jars, fill each quart jar with 2 tablespoons of bottled lemon juice and 1 teaspoon of salt. 

(The salt is optional, however the lemon juice is not. You MUST use bottled lemon juice for this recipe to ensure the acidity and safety of your home-canned tomato sauce).

Personally, I don’t even notice the taste of the lemon juice in the sauce, but some people prefer to use citric acid to avoid any flavour the lemon juice might impart. If you choose to use citric acid instead of lemon juice, add ¼ teaspoon of citric acid per pint jar or ½ teaspoon citric acid per quart jar.

If you’d like to add any herbs, you can add some now. Dried basil, oregano and thyme are all good options for tomato sauce. You can use just one herb or a combination of dried herbs if you like. Add ½ teaspoon dried herbs to each pint jar or 1 teaspoon dried herbs to each quart jar.

Learn how to can homemade tomato sauce with a water bath canner or a pressure canner and always have the makings of a delicious meal on hand! #howtocantomatosauce #homemadetomatosauce #tomatocanningrecipes

 

How to water bath can tomato sauce

To water bath can tomato sauce, ladle hot tomato sauce into prepared jars, leaving ½ inch headspace. (Make sure you’ve added your lemon juice first -and salt, if using).

* If you’re new to canning, follow the steps for water bath canning here.

Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace as needed. Wipe rims, place lids on top and screw down bands.

Place jars in canner and bring water to a boil. Process pint jars for 35 minutes and quart jars for 40 minutes. 

After time is up, turn heat off, take the lid off the canner and allow jars to sit in hot water for another 5 minutes. Remove jars and let cool completely before storing. 

 

How to pressure can tomato sauce

To pressure can tomato sauce, ladle hot tomato sauce into prepared jars leaving 1 inch headspace. (Make sure you’ve added your lemon juice first -and salt, if using).

* Again, if you’re new to canning, follow the step-by-step for pressure canning instructions here.

Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace as needed. Wipe rims, place lids on top and screw down bands.

Place jars in pressure canner and process both pint and quart jars for 15 minutes at 10 lbs. of pressure. (Increase to 15 pounds of pressure if canning at over 1,000 feet above sea level). 

Once processing time is finished, turn off the heat and allow the pressure canner to depressurize completely, then remove weighted gauge and wait another 2 minutes. Remove lid and wait another 10 minutes before removing jars from canner. Remove jars and let cool completely before storing.

 

How many tomatoes do I need to can tomato sauce?

This recipe for home-canned tomato sauce is very flexible, so you can use as many tomatoes as you have. 

However on average, you’ll need about 7 pounds of tomatoes for every two pints (one quart) of sauce. 

Learn how to can homemade tomato sauce with a water bath canner or a pressure canner and always have the makings of a delicious meal on hand! #howtocantomatosauce #homemadetomatosauce #tomatocanningrecipes

 

A note about siphoning

If you pull your jars of tomato sauce out of the canner and notice that a bunch of the sauce appears to be missing, you may be the victim of siphoning.

Siphoning is when sauce or liquid is drawn out of canning jars while in the canner. It happens when there’s a quick and drastic change in temperature.

Siphoning is much more common in pressure canning than water bath canning (which is why I tend to prefer to water bath can my tomato sauce).

The best way to prevent siphoning and liquid loss is to make sure that your jars and sauce are hot when they go into the canner, and make sure to leave your jars to sit in the canner for the recommended time after your processing time is up. This reduces the chance and amount of siphoning over all, however some liquid loss may still occur when pressure canning.

This being said, some siphoning is normal when pressure canning, and as long as the lids have sealed and the jars haven’t lost more than half the amount of liquid in them, your tomato sauce will still be safe to store and eat.

 

How to use your home-canned tomato sauce

There are so many ways to use home-canned tomato sauce. Use it as a base for pizza or as a sauce to top some homemade pasta. Use it in soups and stews and as a base for all kinds of red sauces and casseroles. 

The sky’s the limit!

I’ve definitely got my favourites, but I’d love to know, what are your favourite ways to use tomato sauce at home? 

Let me know in the comments below:)

 

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Learn how to can homemade tomato sauce with a water bath canner or a pressure canner and always have the makings of a delicious meal on hand! #howtocantomatosauce #homemadetomatosauce #tomatocanningrecipes

How to Can Homemade Tomato Sauce

Ingredients

  • Paste tomatoes, peeled and cored*
  • Bottled lemon juice
  • Pickling or kosher salt (optional)

Instructions

  1. Prepare canner, jars and lids.
  2. Add tomatoes to a large stainless steel pot. You may need to work in batches, depending on the size of your pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  3. Using a potato masher, crush the tomatoes as they cook and stir tomatoes constantly. Continue boiling, stirring and crushing until all of the tomatoes are soft and have released their juices (about 10 to 15 minutes).
  4. Using an immersion blender, blend the tomatoes until smooth. Alternatively, transfer in batches to a blender or food processor and blend before returning sauce to the pot.
  5. Bring sauce to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to medium-high and boil until volume is reduced by about half. (You may want to use a splatter guard to keep the sauce from splattering all over your kitchen as it cooks down!)
  6. Remove jars from the canner and fill each jar with bottled lemon juice and salt (if using). For pint jars, fill each pint jar with 1 Tbsp bottled lemon juice and 1⁄2 tsp of salt. For quart jars, fill each quart jar with 2 Tbsp of bottled lemon juice and 1 tsp of salt.
  7. Ladle hot tomato sauce into prepared jars, leaving 1⁄2 inch headspace if water bath canning, or 1 inch headspace if pressure canning.
  8. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace as needed. Wipe rims, place lids on top and screw down bands.
  9. If water bath canning, place jars in canner and process pint jars for 35 minutes and quart jars for 40 minutes. If pressure canning, place jars in pressure canner and process both pint jars and quart jars for 15 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure. (Increase to 15 pounds of pressure if pressure canning at over 1,000 feet above sea level).
  10. After time is up, turn heat off and, if water bath canning take the lid off the canner and allow jars to sit in hot water for another 5 minutes before removing jars. If pressure canning, allow the pressure canner to depressurize completely, then remove weighted gauge and wait another 2 minutes. Remove lid and wait another 10 minutes before removing jars from canner. Remove jars and let cool completely before storing.

Notes

* To peel tomatoes, immerse fresh tomatoes in boiling water for about 30 seconds until skins start to crack. Remove tomatoes from boiling water with a slotted spoon and immerse them in ice cold water and slip the skins off. If tomatoes are pre-frozen, you can use this method or simply run them under hot water until the skins begin to crack and slip off.

This recipe yields roughly 2 pints or 1 quart of sauce for every 7 pounds of tomatoes used.


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NATURAL LIVING

6 Comments

  1. Susan Randall

    Instead of peeling the tomatoes, can they be pureed in a high speed blender, skin and all?

    Reply
    • Ashley Constance

      Tomato skins are generally removed because they can be tough and bitter, adding an unpleasant taste to the tomato sauce. The USDA also recommends peeling tomatoes because it greatly reduces the amount of bacteria, yeast, and molds that can be found on the skins.

      Reply
  2. Janda

    Are the tomato seeds left in the sauce, or did I miss a step?

    Reply
    • Ashley Constance

      Seeds left in the sauce are totally fine. If you want to remove them for aesthetic reasons, you can push the tomatoes through a fine mesh strainer, but leaving them in is perfectly fine and many people even find that it enhances the flavour and texture of the sauce in the end.

      Reply
    • Cori

      Can you freeze the tomatoes whole, and then run them through a mill?
      Thanks

      Reply
      • Ashley Constance

        Yes – as long as they’re fully thawed, that option works great.

        Reply

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ABOUT ANNA
Hi! I’m Anna, and I’m a city girl turned modern homesteader who’s passionate about growing, cooking and preserving real food at home, creating my own herbal medicine and all-natural home and body care products, and working toward a simpler, more sustainable and self-sufficient life each and every day. 
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This journey has been about so much more than homesteading for me, and I've learned, lost, gained and loved so much more than I ever could have imagined.

Because, as I've said before, homesteading doesn't happen in a vacuum. Life is always happening at the same time.

This is the full, raw and unfiltered story of my homesteading journey, and how I've gained so much more than a pantry full of food along the way.

Click the link in my bio @anna.sakawsky to read more or check it out here >> https://thehouseandhomestead.com/how-it-started-how-its-going
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The news we’ve all been waiting for…

IT’S A BOY!!!

After so many years and too many losses, our hearts are so full and it feels like we are inching closer to our family finally being complete.

I’ve always known in my heart and soul that we were meant to have a girl and a boy. I know, it sounds cliché and very “nuclear family,” but years ago I saw a psychic who told me I would have a girl who loved to be centre stage and had a personality larger than life, very much how our daughter has turned out!

She also said I would have a boy who would be much more introverted and in tune with nature and with his own intuition. That’s yet to be seen, but I’ve always had this unwavering vision of a son and a daughter that fit these descriptions, and my heart has been set on a son ever since we had Evelyn.

Of course, things went sideways for a few years. Shortly after Evelyn was born, I became pregnant again, but we made the heartbreaking decision to terminate that pregnancy at 24 weeks due to a severe medical diagnosis. We lost our son, Phoenix Rain on June 15, 2018. Our hearts were shattered and have never fully healed.

Over the next few years, I had 3 more early miscarriages. None of the doctors knew what was causing them as most didn’t seem to have any sort of genetic explanation. We were told it was “something environmental,” but weren’t given any clues as to what that could be.

After pushing to see several specialists last year (after our most recent loss), and being told once again that there was “nothing wrong with me,” I finally got another opinion and found out I had something called Chronic Endometritis: A low-grade infection in my uterus that I believe in my heart was caused by my c-section with our daughter; A c-section I didn’t want and probably didn’t need, but felt I needed because I was under pressure to make a decision before the surgeon went off duty.

I’ll never know for sure, but when I pushed for more testing and finally got a simple round of antibiotics, the endometritis cleared up. I got pregnant again almost immediately and so far we now have a healthy baby boy on the way.

(Continued in comments…)
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We’re living through interesting times. Many people have even used the term “unprecedented times,” and while that may be true in that there has perhaps never been another time in history when we’ve faced so many existential threats all at once (ie. a global pandemic, climate change, political divisions, AI advancing at an incredible rate, cyber attacks, nuclear threats, globalization, food shortages, supply chain issues, hyperinflation, social media and the age of information/misinformation, etc. etc. all converging at once). But despite all of this, we are not the first generation(s) of humans to face hardships and threats of great magnitude, and in fact we’ve had it better than any other previous generations for most of our lives, especially here in the west.

The fact is, there are lots of things we can do to ensure we’re not sitting ducks when these threats come knocking at our door. But it takes action on our part, not waiting around for someone else to fix things or take care of us.

In the Summer issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine, I sat down with The Grow Network’s Marjory Wildcraft to talk all about the realities of our current climate, including worsening inflation and looming global food shortages, as well as what every day people like you and I can actually DO to improve our food security, become more self-sufficient, care for our families and communities and ensure our own survival and wellbeing even in difficult and uncertain times like these.

While I don’t believe in fear mongering, I do believe in acknowledging hard truths and not burying your head in the sand. That being said, things may very well get worse before they get better, and we would all do well to start learning the necessary skills, stocking up on essential resources and preparing now while there’s still time.

Check out the full interview in the summer issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine. Link in bio @anna.sakawsky to subscribe or go to www.modernhomesteadingmagazine.com to subscribe or login and read the current issue.

#foodshortages #selfsufficiency #selfreliance #foodsecurity #foodsecurityisfreedom #homesteading #growyourownfood #fightinflation #stayfree
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If you’re like most homesteaders, you probably have a pile of scrap materials laying somewhere on your property, all with the “intention” of being resourceful and using those scrap pieces for future projects. And let’s be honest: With inflation and the cost of lumber and, well, pretty much everything these days, being resourceful with our scraps isn’t just practical, it’s downright necessary in many cases!

But the reality is that it’s often much easier to accumulate scrap pieces than it is to actually put them to good use, and if we’re not careful and discerning with what we keep on hand, that scrap pile full of homesteader gold can quickly turn into a junk pile of clutter taking up space on our property.

In the Summer issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine, our resident handyman (my dear husband @ryan.sakawsky ;) shares his best tips for how to put your scrap pile to good use and knock some projects off your list while the weather’s still good, including which materials are worth saving and which ones aren’t.

If you haven’t had a chance to check out the summer issue yet, you can subscribe via the link in my bio @anna.sakawsky (or login to the library if you’re a already a subscriber) or go to www.modernhomesteadingmagazine.com

Do you keep a scrap pile? If so, what sort of materials do you have laying around?

#scrappile #modernhomesteading #homesteading #diy #getscrappy #resourcefulness #inflation #beatinflation
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