Canning Tomato Sauce

I did it. I finally canned homemade tomato sauce (go ahead, yawn and roll your eyes – my husband is!). However, I feel excited and proud and I’m going to write about it anyway!

I’m even going to say that it was simple, and how have I never done this before? Fifteen jars of organic tomato sauce are now sitting on a shelf ready to be consumed (or given away as gifts) this winter!

The cost? One day and $26.00. 

My canning adventure began with ripe, locally grown Roma Tomatoes and freshly cured onions from the downtown Farmer’s Market, and the book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver.

If you are passionate about homemade, homegrown food that nourishes body and mind, then this book is a must read. After enjoying, I wanted nothing more than to live on a family owned and operated homestead, complete with poultry, bees, and acres of gardens. Since this is not a possibility, I thought it was a good idea just to start with tomato sauce.

I’ll admit, I wasn’t a perfect canner, by any means. I made a mess in the kitchen and clogged the kitchen sink drain (twice). I began canning one batch in the evening and rushed because I wanted to go to bed. Because of that, my jars that didn’t seal properly (due to careless overfilling). I had to dump all the sauce back into the pot and put it into the refrigerator for the evening so that I could reprocess it the next day.

But, I had fun! And, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that my sauce doesn’t  poison anyone.

FAMILY SECRET TOMATO SAUCE by Barbara Kingsolver

NOTE: If you plan on trying this recipe, please take a minute to read the original, linked instructions.

  • 10 quarts of tomato puree (I used a food processor to make this and did not remove the seeds or skin)
  • 4 large, chopped onions
  • 1 cup dried basil
  • 1/2 cup honey (preferably local, raw)
  • 4 TBSP dried oregano
  • 3 TBSP salt (I used Kosher)
  • 2 TBSP ground lemon peel
  • 2 TBSP thyme
  • 2 TBSP garlic powder
  • 2 TBSP dried parsley
  • 2 TSP pepper
  • 2 TSP cinnamon
  • 1/2 TSP nutmeg
  • 2 TBSP lemon juice or 1/2 TSP citric acid (for quart jars)

1. Buy local tomatoes, or grow your own to reduce the cost (I threw in some of my homegrown tomatoes!).

2. Wash the tomatoes well.

3. Puree tomatoes in food processor, and soften onions in a pot (do not use any oil).

Colin kept a tally of how many quarts of pureed tomatoes went into the pot.

4. Mix pureed tomatoes and all of the seasonings together in a large pot.

5. Bring to a boil and simmer on low heat for 2-3 hours. Stir frequently – especially towards the end.

6. Heat water in canner bath, sterilize jars in boiling water or dishwasher, and sterilize jar lids.

7. Add 2 TBSP of lemon juice OR ½ TSP of citric acid to each quart jar. This ensures that the sauce will be acidic, and safe to store on a shelf. I purchased citric acid, as well as all of my other canning supplies, at Kmart. They have a nice canning section (and it stays in the same place – unlike Wal-Mart’s – which changes location every week).

8. When the sauce is ready, ladle it into the jars leaving ½ inch head space. Put the jars into the canner and boil for 35 minutes. Remove, cool, check all seals, label and store for later.

We tried some of the tomato sauce last night on spaghetti. It was so delicious, that I didn’t even think to grab my camera and take a picture. Colin and Owen cleaned their plates and had seconds!

9 thoughts on “Canning Tomato Sauce

  1. I didn’t realize that canning was that simple. O.K. I hate to use the word “simple”, but I have never done it, so I thought that there was a lot more to it. Hmmm, maybe one of these years… Anyway, have you read any of Barbara Kingsolver’s other books?

  2. Yay!!! So exciting and looks delicious!! We’ve done this for the last couple of years now (and by “we”, I mean “Mark” — lol! )and every year it makes me so happy to see jars of homemade tomato sauce in the pantry. It’s the best!

  3. Prodigal Summer and The Poisonwood Bible are the 2 books that I have read by Barbara Kingsolver. Very good books. Prodigal Summer is set in the Appalachian mountains very near to Roanoke, VA, where I used to live. I read it, while I lived there and it was weird to read the book and realize how close I was to the different areas that were mentioned in the book.

  4. Pingback: DIY: Pure Maple Candy | Fireflies and Mud Pies

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