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 when it comes to 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.


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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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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Did you know you can now buy pumpkin spice ramen noodles, pumpkin spice Pringles, pumpkin spice macaroni and cheese, pumpkin spice sausages and even pumpkin spice dog treats?

It’s not exactly a stretch to say that we’ve taken the whole pumpkin spice craze a little bit too far.

But our obsession with pumpkin spice speaks to something much deeper than the flavour itself. (Let’s be honest, pumpkin spice ramen noodles sound gag-worthy).

The reason we tend to love pumpkin spice so much is because it triggers feelings of comfort and nostalgia; Memories of days spent with family at the pumpkin patch or around the Thanksgiving table. In short, pumpkin spice triggers our emotions as much as it tantalizes our taste buds.

But let’s be real, pumpkin spice Pringles ain’t it.

If you’re feeling all the fall vibes and craving a little pumpkin spice in your life right now, stick to the tried and true pumpkin spice latte, but ditch the expensive (and highly processed) commercial PSLs and make your own pumpkin spice syrup (with real pumpkin!) at home for a fraction of the cost! Keep it on hand to add to your coffees, teas and steamed milk beverages all Autumn long.

It’s super easy to make and will put pumpkin spice macaroni squarely in its place (and keep it there!)

Link in bio @thehouseandhomestead to grab the recipe or go to

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I’ve been feeling pulled to slow down and retreat into my home lately; To turn off the news and social media and focus on the tangible things like lighting the wood stove, preserving the mountains of food still coming out of the garden, and slowly stirring a pot of soup as it cooks on the stovetop.

With everything that’s going on in the world right now, I know I’m not the only one feeling pulled toward hearth and home. This is a heavy time for all of us. No one person is meant to bear the weight of the world on their shoulders, but I've heard from so many people lately who say that's exactly how they've been feeling.

If you read my post from a few days ago, you know I’ve been feeling like that too, but luckily, I've learned how to soothe my soul in difficult times.

And so that's what I've been doing lately...

I've been focusing on the tangible things that I can control, like cooking meals and preserving food.

I've been lingering a little longer in the morning, taking time to sit by the river or sip my coffee in front of the wood stove before hurrying on with my day.

And I've been making a conscious effort to turn off the noise of the outside world and give my family and my own emotional health my full attention.

If you've also been feeling that pull to turn off all of the noise and immerse yourself in more nourishing, productive activities, I want to tell you about a collection of resources that will help you do just that.

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* Learn how to forage for healing herbs and how to make your own natural medicine

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And much more.

If this sounds like it’s exactly what you're in need of right now, check out the Simple Living Collective and get the Autumn Issue for just $25. But this issue is only available until tomorrow, so don't wait…

Link in bio @thehouseandhomestead to grab it now before it disappears 🍁

I laid in bed the other night and couldn’t sleep.

I know that probably doesn’t sound out of the ordinary, especially considering the collective stress we’ve all been through over the past year and a half. But if I’m being totally honest, I’ve done a pretty good job of not letting it get to me.

I used to have really bad anxiety, and I made a conscious effort to learn how to manage it in (mostly) healthy, natural ways. I practice a lot of gratitude every day, and overall I’ve learned to deal with stress, anxiety and negative thoughts pretty well.

Lately though, I’ve been feeling the weight of it all. Aside from dealing with personal issues like our ongoing infertility/pregnancy loss journey and the every day stresses we all face, the bigger things have been feeling bigger and heavier lately; The mandates, the politics, the pushback, the arguments and attacks online, the divisiveness, and the seemingly never-ending pandemic that every single one of us is still dealing with in some capacity.

I’ve been seeing more and more calls to “choose a side.” I’ve witnessed my own close friends on both sides of the debate hurling insults at each other, defending their ground, and refusing to listen to each other’s valid points and concerns.

I’ve even witnessed a widening crack in the homesteading community, despite the fact that so many of our core values and beliefs align and are unique to us.

Despite the division, I would still argue that ALL of us have much more in common than not, and to see the divide continuing to deepen has started to get under my skin lately.

(Continued in comments…)

I’ve been keeping a secret…

For the past two years I’ve worked hard to bring you monthly issues of Modern Homesteading Magazine.

Over the course of the past 24 issues, we’ve covered everything from gardening to canning, sourdough bread to backyard chickens, home dairy to herbal medicine, permaculture to fermentation and EVERYTHING in between.

But it’s time for the magazine to step into some bigger shoes, which means we’re transitioning from a monthly publication focused on one specific topic per issue to a seasonal publication which will focus on multiple seasonally-themed topics per issue.

This also means that each issue will be packed with even more great content tailored for homesteaders from all walks of life.

Since the August issue was a week late due to some personal and family issues, and since this next issue is packed with even more great content, it will be coming to you in a few days from now.

That being said, it will also be the last issue you’ll be able to read free of charge. So, if you STILL haven’t subscribed, head on over and click the link in my bio or go to to subscribe for free and you’ll still get to read the August issue (all about fermentation) as well as the Fall 2021 issue (when it comes out) ABSOLUTELY FREE!

Membership prices to access our entire library of issues will also be increasing soon so now’s a great time to lock in at the super low introductory price of just $7.99/year. That gets you full access to every single issue, past, present and future, including the ability to download, save and print each one.

Big, exciting changes are coming this fall! Be sure to subscribe and/or become a member now and be the first to know when the brand new Fall 2021 issue drops in just a few days!

Link in bio @thehouseandhomestead to subscribe or become a member now :)

Fall is just around the corner, and that means so is cold and flu season.

This is the time of year when I like to mix up a big batch of elderberry syrup to help support our immunity and keep us healthy throughout the fall and winter.

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Stock up on elderberries now and use code IMMUNE821 at checkout to get your discount!

Link in bio @thehouseandhomestead to order your dried elderberries and get your discount, and/or to get my full recipe for homemade elderberry syrup (or go to

Happy fall y’all 🍁

Not a bad start to our carrot harvest if you ask me!

One of the things I love about growing food at home is that we get to try all sorts of varieties that we would never find in a grocery store, like these deep purple carrots from @westcoastseeds.

There are so many interesting heirlooms (and hybrids!) out there that just aren’t grown for commercial sale.

What’s your favourite vegetable that you’ve grown that you can’t find anywhere else?

Got plums???

This plum jelly is a super easy way to use up any plums you have WITHOUT having to pit them.

(This is obviously especially useful if you have a clingstone variety, because let me tell you from experience, it is NOT worth your time to try to pit those babies!)

But since all you need for this jelly is to extract the juice from your plums, you don’t need to worry about removing the pits. Just toss ‘em in the pot whole!

This plum jelly is also spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Perfect for fall -it basically tastes like what cozy feels like!

Not to mention, it also makes the perfect Christmas gift. (Yup. I said Christmas! But if you wanna give away homemade preserve for Christmas, you’ve gotta start planning that now!)

If you've got plums and are looking for a delicious way to use and preserve them, click the link in my bio @thehouseandhomestead or go to to get my full recipe and preserving instructions!

Happy anniversary to the love of my life @thehumblehandyman

Over our 7 years of marriage and 10 years together, we’ve experienced the highest highs and the lowest lows.

We’ve travelled the world together. We’ve accomplished countless goals together. We’ve learned to grow food and live a more sustainable life, not because we have to, but because it feels right in every fiber of our being.

We’ve created a beautiful baby girl together, and said goodbye to 4 angel babies. We’ve yet to meet our rainbow baby, but I feel in my heart that there’s a soul out there who’s meant to live his earthly life with us. I’m not ready to stop trying.

We’ve built a beautiful home (if not from scratch, pretty close!), and while we’re so, SO grateful for our current home and situation, we both still love to dream about the day we drive up on that 5 or 10 acre farm, keys in hand.

I know we’re only 7 years in, but I can already picture us 20, 30, 40 years from now, giving the younger kids some simple life advice on how to make a marriage work:

#1: Communicate. About everything. Share your wildest dreams and your darkest secrets. Share a bank account! A strong marriage is based on absolute trust. Communication is necessary for trust to exist.

#2: Work toward common goals. Get on the same page about what you want out of life, and if you disagree on some things, find middle ground. Marriage is about compromise, but we also only get one chance to do this life and I don’t know about you, but I’ve got lots I wanna do and I wanna do it next to the person I love most.

#3: Laugh. Cry. Comfort each other. Share all of the raw human emotions with each other. Celebrate what it means to be spiritual beings having a human experience, together.

This is what’s worked for us so far anyway, and I can say for a fact that we’re stronger together and as individuals for it.

Thank you for being the best husband and father Evelyn and I could ask for. And thanks for knowing how to build and fix just about everything. Many of our projects would never get off the ground or our bills would be much higher if I wasn’t married to @thehumblehandyman, and for that I’m eternally grateful 😘

When you grow your own food at home, you tend to end up with the very GOOD problem of having too much fresh food ready all at once.

This is definitely the case in our house right now, which means our canner has taken up permanent residence on our stovetop and I've been admittedly pulling some late nights trying to get everything preserved.

Tomato sauce is a top priority for us when it comes to canning because it's such a staple on our pantry shelves. From pizza and pasta sauce to soups, stews and casseroles, we use tomato sauce for so much of our home cooking, and for this reason, having a good, basic tomato sauce on hand is an absolute MUST!

The recipe I'm sharing with you today includes instructions on how to can homemade tomato sauce with a water bath canner or a pressure canner (because tomatoes go both ways;) so you always have the makings of a delicious meal on hand!

Click the link in my bio @thehouseandhomestead or go to to get the full recipe and canning instructions:)

What's your favourite way to use tomato sauce at home??

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