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Water Bath Canning Tomato Sauce is easy and gratifying to do. If you are anything like me you like to grow tomatoes. I love to grow all different kinds of tomatoes, cherry, slicers, and paste tomatoes for sauce. Typically I use Amish Paste and San Marzano Lungo #2 tomatoes for my tomato sauce. I like these varieties for making tomato sauce because they don’t contain a lot of seeds or juice which makes reducing the sauce easier.
It can take a surprising amount of tomatoes to make 1 jar of tomato sauce. It typically takes about 5 lbs of tomatoes to make 1 quart jar of thin sauce. I like a thicker sauce and if I am going to be taking the time to make sauce I typically do so in large batches. I use an electric roaster and my KitchenAid Food and Vegetable Strainer to make processing large amounts of tomatoes much easier. My favorite recipe to use for a Basic Tomato Sauce is found in Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving found on page 362. This recipe can also be found on Ball’s website called “Tomato Sauce“
Working with Frozen Tomatoes
Throughout the tomato season there is a lot of produce coming out of the garden. I sometimes don’t have time to process the tomatoes right away. You can freeze your tomatoes for sauce if you don’t have time to process when they are coming off the vine. Before putting them in the freezer make sure to core them. I place them in gallon freezer bags so I can pull them out later to process.
If starting from frozen tomatoes you can leave them to defrost in the freezer bags or put them directly in the pot or electric roaster frozen. If you defrost in the freezer bag make sure to dump the entire contents of the bag into the pot or roaster. Include all juices to ensure the proper acidity to water bath can tomatoes. If you are putting the frozen tomatoes directly in the pot or electric roaster add some water to the bottom of the container to ensure the tomatoes don’t burn while they are warming up. Start the tomatoes at a lower heat setting to allow them to defrost before bringing them to a boil as the recipe calls for.
How to Water Bath Can Tomato Sauce
Water Bath Canning Basic Tomato Sauce
- 5 lbs Tomatoes, Cored For each quart jar of thin sauce you'll need about 5 lbs of tomatoes
- Bottled Lemon Juice or Citric Acid
- Salt (Optional)
- Dried Herbs (Optional)
- Clean jars and lids with warm soapy water. Ensure the jars do not have any chips or bubbles in the glass.
- Wash and sort tomatoes, removing any bad or bruised spots. Quarter 6 tomatoes and place in a large stainless steel saucepan or electric roaster. I utilize an electric roaster because when I make sauce I do it in very large batches. Bring to boil over medium-high heat. Crush the tomatoes to release their juices, stirring constantly. While maintaining a boil continue to quarter tomatoes and add them to the pot or electric roaster. Continue to crush the tomatoes as you add them.5 lbs Tomatoes, Cored
- When all the tomatoes have been added, boil, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are soft and juicy. Then remove from heat.
- Next you are going to remove the seeds and tomato peels. Working in batches , press the tomatoes through a food mill or your KitchenAid Food and Vegetable Strainer. This will remove the seeds and tomato peels. I usually run the discards through the Food and Vegetable Strainer a few times to ensure I am getting all the tomato pulp. You can dehydrate the tomato seeds and peels to make tomato powder which can be added to soups or sauces or you can just discard the excess.
- Return the strained tomatoes to the saucepan or electric roaster. You are now going to reduce the tomato sauce. Bring the strained tomatoes to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat to medium-high and boil. This can take as little or as much time as you like. Reduce the volume of the sauce by a third if you like a thin sauce or continue cooking until it is reduced by half for a thicker sauce. Remember to keep stirring so it doesn't burn on the bottom.
- When you feel your sauce is getting close to the thickness you like for sauce. Put your water bath canner on your stove. Add your canning rack into your water bath canner. Add your pint jars or quart jars to the water bath canner. They will warm as you heat up the water. Add enough water to cover jars with at least 2-3 inches of water. Bring to a low boil and allow the jars to boil for 10 minutes.
- Remove your jars from the water bath canner one at a time using your jar lifter. Dump water out of jar into your water bath canner to ensure there is still 2-3 inches of water above your jars.
- Before adding tomato sauce to the jar add bottled lemon juice or citric acid to the jar. If using pint jars add 1 tbsp of bottled lemon juice or 1/4 tsp of Citric Acid to the jar. If using quart jars add 2 tbsp Bottled Lemon Juice or 1/2 tsp of Citric Acid to the jar.Bottled Lemon Juice or Citric Acid
- Add salt (optional). If using pint jars add 1/2 tsp of salt. If using quart jars use 1 tsp of salt.Salt (Optional)
- Add dried herbs (optional). If using pint jars add 1/2 tsp of dried herbs. If using quart jars use 1 tsp of dried herbs. You can always add more when using your sauce. Dried oregano, basil, thyme, rosemary or Italian Seasoning mixes are excellent seasonings for this sauce. I actually don't usually add dried herbs to my sauce until opening a jar. This is just my preferred method as we use this sauce for many different recipes.Dried Herbs (Optional)
- Use funnel and ladle to add hot sauce to prepared jar. Leave 1/2 inch headspace at the top of the jar. Remove air bubbles with a de-bubbler and adjust headspace as needed by adding more sauce. Wipe rim to ensure good seal is made with the lid. Center lid on jar and screw the band down to finger tip tight.
- Place jar in canner using your jar lifter. Repeat steps 7-11 until all sauce is used or all jars that fit in your canner are filled.
- Lower the water bath canner rack into the boiling water. Ensure the jars are covered completely by 2-3 inches of water.
- If your water is not boiling start your processing time when the water is boiling. Process pint jars for 35 minutes and quart jars for 40 minutes. Set a timer, it makes it much easier to make sure you process for the correct time. When your timer goes off turn off the heat and remove the canner lid. Leave the jars in the water for 5 minutes.
- Lift your canning rack out of the water. Using your jar lifer carefully move the jars onto a wire rack or kitchen towel to allow to cool. When moving the jars try not to tilt them to the side as this could effect the seal of the jars. Allow your jars to cool for 12-24 hours before handling.
- Once cool, remove the canning rings from the jars. Wash your jars off to ensure there is no food residue on the outside of the jar from processing. Label your jar with the name of the recipe and date. This will help you remember what recipe you used to can and the date will allow you to use the oldest canned goods first.
Basic Tomato Sauce
I love that once I open my tomato sauce I can doctor up the sauce and utilize it for what ever recipe I am making. Add some ground beef and make a delicious meat sauce or goulash. Reduce the sauce down more and it use it as pizza sauce or even tomato paste. The options are really endless and my family loves the taste of this sauce. Water bath canning tomato sauce is so easy and it is an excellent staple to have in the pantry for year round use.