This post will share the recipe and a complete tutorial for canning tomato sauce at home. It is and continues to be one of my most popular posts and I have updated it for you all with additional instructions AND another video to help you even more.
Oh, canning tomatoes! Canning tomato sauce is one of the most satisfying tasks a home canner could ask for because of the versatility of tomato sauce. When people start preserving, they often make jam because it is fairly simple and of course delicious but I find the savory preserves, like this tomato sauce, are far more useful. I guess we just don’t make enough toast to feeling like my time making lots of jam would be worth it. Conversely, my family eats a lot of tomato sauce. Last season I canned over 100 pounds of tomatoes, grown in a friend’s garden a few ridges down the road, and only made it to late spring before running out. I am busy working up Romas, 12 pounds at a time, and sharing about it here and on my YouTube Channel and on Periscope. I’d love to have you follow along there if you’re inclined!
Before you get started, download the canning cheatsheet so the whole process will be a breeze!
This season I made a technique improvement upon the recipe from the wonderful compendium, Canning for a New Generation by Larissa Krissoff. I warmly recommend it.
This post may contain affiliate links. All opinions are my own.
Canning Tomato Sauce
This recipe requires the canner to peel the tomatoes first, then cook them into a sauce. I hate dropping tomatoes (or peaches, etc) into boiling water for several reasons. I don’t want another pot of boiling water on the stove, I am terrible at keeping track of how long the tomato has been submerged, and I always try to peel when the tomatoes are too hot and it scorches my fingertips. It can be a big, wet, hot mess. However, it is desirable if you don’t have a food mill and if you desire a completely skin free product.
To process tomatoes with a food mill:
I slice the end of the Roma (a more dense, less watery tomato variety suited for saucing) and then just rough chop the rest of the tomato and put it raw into the top of my food mill, with the largest plate in the bottom.
A food mill is a very handy thing that I think all kitchens should have. Mine was gifted to me by a wonderful friend at my baby shower, with the intention of making mushed up baby food, which I did use it for, but it is so useful beyond that, this sauce being an excellent example. It has a plate that is much like a cheese grater and a mechanism for pressing the food into the grater so the result in the bowl below is a very smooth sauce. They are popularly used for applesauce and think they are much better than a blender. They are also all metal and non-electric which means they will last pretty much forever. Here’s mine:
Put the chopped tomatoes into the hopper of the food mill and when it is nearly full, start turning the handle. The skin and some seeds are kept above while perfectly smooth sauce drips below. I have mine set atop the pot in which I will cook the sauce, so I don’t dirty another bowl, but the rubberized “legs” will grip onto a wide variety of bowls.
This technique can be applied to any tomato recipe as long as it isn’t imperative that it be completely skin or seed free (I’m sure there are a few bits of skin in my sauce).
This step isn’t a lot faster, I wouldn’t say, but it dirties fewer bowls (a big concern in my tiny kitchen) and isn’t as sweaty. I know, I know, I could set up big burners and can outside but then I couldn’t keep my small children corralled.
To peel tomatoes using boiling water instead:
This method requires you to fill a large pot with hot water. Bring to a boil. Have a bowl filled with ice water on the nearby countertop. While the water is heating, core the tomatoes with a knife. When the water is boiling, and with a slotted spoon handy, drop the tomatoes in the boiling water one or two at a time. Keep an eye on the clock and after about 1 minute, the skins will start to split. After the skin has split and is starting to peel back from the flesh, remove it from the boiling water and drop into the bowl of ice water. Repeat with all tomatoes. Remove from the ice water one tomato at a time and peel the skins with your fingers. Compost the skins.
Tomato Sauce Recipe
Here’s the recipe that I use to work up 12-pound batches of Romas, that usually yields 4-5 pints (1 pint =2 measuring cups) from Canning for a New Generation.
12 pounds peeled tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
12 ounces onion, diced (about 2 small or 1 large)
2 large cloves of garlic
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
about 2 teaspoons citric acid
In a wide preserving pan, heat the oil and saute the onions on medium high for about five minutes. Add the garlic and saute for another five. Combine the peeled tomatoes with the alliums and cook on medium high for about 45 minutes, until the sauce has thickened and darkened in color. Add salt to taste. Stir occasionally and beware of the sauce boiling over the edge.
Add 1/2 teaspoon citric acid to each hot jar that is removed from the waterbath. Ladle boiling sauce into sterilized jars (I like wide mouth pints for this recipe, but use what you have) add lids and rings, and process in a waterbath for 35 minutes. If you are unfamiliar with waterbath canning see this excellent USDA resource here.
There you have it, Wildflowers! Please share in the comments below what you think of using the food mill versus the boiling water and peel method. I’m eager to hear your thoughts!
If you are ready to learn how to can this season, head to www.startcanning.com and enroll in the e course for busy beginners. There I will SHOW you in a way a cookbook cannot how to Start Canning!
If you are a fan of video, check out my YouTube video (which is a casual Periscope broadcast) about canning tomato sauce!
Still feeling uncertain getting started? Here’s a great resource to help!