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Homemade Tomato Sauce

Print Makes about one to multiple jars
Turn your tomato harvest into fresh homemade tomato sauce that you can use in your favorite dishes throughout the year. Step-by-step instructions are here.

Level of Ease:

Medium

Preserving Method:

Waterbath Canning

You Will Need:

  • Tomatoes, cored
  • Ball® Citric Acid or bottled lemon juice
  • Salt (optional)
  • Dried herbs (optional)

Directions:

  1. Prepare canner, jars and lids
  2. Wash and sort tomatoes, removing any bruised or discolored product. Quarter 6 tomatoes and place in a large stainless steel sauce saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Using a potato masher, crush tomatoes to release juices, stirring constantly. While maintaining a boil and stirring to prevent burning, quarter additional tomatoes, adding them to the saucepan as you work. Make sure the mixture continues to boil vigorously while you add, stir and crush the remaining tomatoes. When all tomatoes have been added, boil, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes are soft and juicy, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat.
  3. Working in batches, press tomatoes through a fine sieve, food mill or Victorio strainer to remove skins and seeds. Discard skins and seeds.
  4. Return mixture to saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to medium-high and boil until volume is reduced by at least one-third for a thin sauce. For a thicker sauce, cook until reduced by half.
  5. Before filling each jar with tomato sauce, add lemon juice or citric acid to the hot jar in the quantity specified below:

    Pint:

    • ¼ tsp Ball® Citric Acid or 1 Tbsp bottled lemon juice

    Quart:

    • ½ tsp Ball® Citric Acid or 2 Tbsp bottled lemon juice

  6. Add salt (optional) in the quantity specified below:

    • Pint: ½ tsp

    • Quart: 1 tsp

  7. Add dried herbs (optional) to each jar.
  8. Ladle hot sauce into prepared jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary, by adding hot sauce. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip-tight.
  9. Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water. Bring to a boil and process pint jars for 35 minutes and quart jars for 40 minutes. Remove canner lid. Wait 5 minutes, then remove jars, cool and store. For each quart jar of thin sauce, you'll need about 5lbs of tomatoes.

Tips For Making Homemade Tomato Sauce

  • For a thin sauce, you'll need an average of 35 lbs of tomatoes to produce 7 quart jars of sauce. For a thick sauce, you'll need an average of 46 lbs to yield 7 quart jars. For the best-quality product and vacuum seal, pack tomato sauce one jar at a time. For each jar, add the lemon juice or citric acid, then the salt and dried herbs, if using. Then ladle in hot sauce as indicated in Step 8 and place the jar in the canner. Repeat until all jars are filled.
  • Dried basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme and Italian seasoning mixes are excellent seasonings for this sauce. Use those preferred by your family. Add the dried herbs to each jar, rather than trying to season the entire batch of tomatoes. Start with 1/2 tsp per pint jar - you can always add more when using the sauce. Many families like to add a fresh basil leaf to each jar. This is acceptable, but remember to use only unblemished leaves that have been thoroughly rinsed.
  • Preventing Siphoning - Considerable pressure builds up inside jars of tomatoes and other home-canned foods while they are being heat-processed. Improper packing and processing procedures can lead to liquid loss, or siphoning, which, in turn, can lead to seal failure. Seal failure is caused when food particles pass between the sealing compound and the rim of the jar, preventing formation of a secure seal. Siphoning is a greater danger when you are processing jars with larger volumes. To prevent siphoning, first make sure to follow headspace guidelines precisely. When packing whole foods such as tomatoes, peaches and pickles into jars, pack them firmly, but not too tightly. Food expands when heated and can "boil over" if too tightly packed, causing siphoning.
  • Finally, be careful to follow the correct heating and cooling procedures associated with processing. To prevent siphoning in a boiling-water canner, when the processing time has been completed, turn the heat off, remove the canner lid and wait 5 minutes, then remove jars. To prevent siphoning in a pressure canner, monitor the pressure closely during processing, making only gradual adjustments to the heat level. Allow the pressure canner to cool completely and naturally before releasing the lid. Once the lid is removed, let the jars cool inside the pressure canner for a further 10 minutes. In either case, when removing jars, be sure to lift them straight up, without tilting, and cool them upright, undisturbed, for 24 hours.

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