Saturday, August 29, 2009

Homemade Tomato Sauce

It's finally here! This weekend is the kick-off for the Canning Across America Can-A-Rama, classes, canning groups and festivities around the country to celebrate the art of canning. I hope that you are getting inspired from all the lovely blogs that are posting great canning recipes and information.

Today is the final installment of this week long posting on canning, but don't worry, I will still continue to post about canning from time to time. In fact I already see a Dill Pickle recipe in the future, as I will be picking pickling pickles next week (try saying that three times fast!).

Tomato Sauce - Seasoned
From So Easy to Preserve, pg. 57

Yields = About 5 half-pint jars

10 pounds tomatoes, peeled, cored and chopped
3 medium onions, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp. oregano
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 tsp. sugar

Hot Pack Method:

1) Place all ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Simmer 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

2) Press mixture through a food mill. *Let me introduce you to our "can't-do-without" piece of equipment, The Victorio Food Mill! We attach it to the extra large cutting board pull-out on our kitchen island.

We set it up with two bowls. The small one for catching the seeds and other discards.

And the large bowl will hold the yummy tomato goodness that is left over after pressing it through.

Here is what it looks like during this process:

Usually my job is to hold the smaller bowl to catch what we don't want in the sauce, while my Mom pours the tomato sauce through the top. It can be done with one person, but it's much easier with two.

This really presses all the tomatoes so well, that you will get every last drop of sauce.

By the end you'll have a beautiful, smooth tomato sauce.

3) Pour tomato sauce mixture back into the pot and cook until thick over medium-high heat, stirring frequently.

4) Add bottle lemon juice or citric acid to jars. Add 1 Tbsp. of bottled lemon juice or 1/4 tsp. citric acid per pint of tomatoes. *Since we were using half-pint jars, we adjusted the amounts accordingly.

This is a very important step! The reason why tomatoes need to be acidified, is explained in the So Easy to Preserve book (pg. 50):

"Because tomatoes have pH values that fall close to 4.6, you must take some precautions to can them safely. First, select only disease-free, preferably vine-ripened, firm fruit for canning. Do not can tomatoes from dead or frost-killed vines. (Green tomatoes are more acidic than ripened tomatoes and can be canned safely using any of the directions given for tomatoes in this book.)"

*Also, it is very important to use only bottled lemon juice instead of fresh squeezed lemon juice in this process. When using bottled lemon juice you know exactly the amount of acidity that will be in the measurements given in the recipe, whereas fresh squeezed lemons may vary.

The lemon juice can be added directly to each jar before filling it with the tomato sauce. If this makes the produce taste too acid, add a little sugar to offset the taste. *We added 1 tsp. of sugar to balance the taste and it worked great.

5) Pour hot sauce into hot jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Wipe jar rims. Adjust lids and process. Tomato sauce may be processed either by the Boiling Water Bath method or the Pressure Canner method. *The day we made this, we did a triple batch of this recipe and since we have two stove tops and both canners, we used both methods.

Boiling Water Bath: Half-Pints or Pints = Process 35 minutes. Click here for Boiling Water Bath instructions.

Pressure Canner (Weighted Gauge at 10 pounds of pressure; remember this depends on your altitude): Half-Pints or Pints = Process 15 minutes. Click here for Pressure Canning directions.

6) After removing the jars from the canner, set them on a towel and leave undisturbed for 12 hours, before storing.

more information on safe canning practices, visit the National Center for Home Food Preservation website.

Now you will have delicious homemade tomato sauce to use for a variety of meals--so yummy and fresh--plus, you'll have the satisfaction of knowing exactly what went into making your sauce.

This is my last shout-out for the GIVEAWAY that started this canning week. All the recipes and instructions that I've shared have come from this AWESOME canning book, So Easy to Preserve. You have until Monday, August 31st at 8:00 PM (PST) to leave your comment and enter for a chance to win this book. Click here to take you to the giveaway page and when you do, be sure to scroll down to the end and leave your comment.

Good Luck & Happy Canning!


  1. That looks great as I sit here with my jar of Prego!

  2. I'm learning so much about canning. It's all so fascinating. I never knew how much effort went into it all. My sister in law has been canning all day - spaghetti sauce. It looks and smells lovely. And canning takes a lot of equipment, huh? I guess I'll have to go shopping after I win the book. :)

  3. Danny: Ha Ha, I love how honest you are! :)

    Jeff: I know what you mean about how interesting it is and how it works. I love finding out the "why" of the process. And yes, it does take a bit of equipment, so it's good to start collecting along the way, rather than having to buy it all at once.

  4. Jill, this is what we did every summer, right before school started and we always helped my mom and made jokes of the little "waste" part coming out of the mill. I have wanted to get one of those mills for a while. Did you get it on-line? I have a gift certificate from sur la table, I wonder if they have them. My mom never added any acid to the tomato sauce and we never had any problems, I wonder whether we were just lucky.

  5. Laura: Actually the food mill is one that my Mom has had for years and years. She said that there are probably some great deals online and to start there.

    Also, there are a couple of reasons why acid needs to be added to tomato sauce (and yes, years ago, we never added it either).

    1)The acidity pH level in tomatoes falls very close to 4.6 and this is a precaution to can them safely.

    2) Over the years, there have been so many varieties of tomatoes developed, that research has shown that this has affected the acidity level and so now the updated practice is to add the acid, just to be safe and ensure that your tomato sauce will be 100% safe to eat.

    I hope this answers your questions. :)