How to Make Fresh Tomato Sauce

Tortellini With Tomato Sauce
Molly Watson
  • 01 of 05

    How to Make Fresh Tomato Sauce

    Early Girl Tomatoes
    Molly Watson

    Most tomato sauce recipes have you start with whole, peeled tomatoes out of a can. This one starts with fresh tomatoes, so there's a bit of prep work to get things going.

    You will want to use supremely ripe tomatoes here. Know that super ripe tomatoes that have just started to turn a bit too soft for other uses are dandy for turning into a sauce. Here, we're starting with 5 pounds of tomatoes.

    Note: The better the tomatoes taste right now, raw, the better the finished sauce will be. It's best to use low-moisture tomatoes like Early Girls or San Marzanos to make sauce since it involves less cooking down to get the right texture.

    Whichever tomatoes you use, give them a good rinse to clean them off.

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  • 02 of 05

    Chop or Whirl Fresh Tomatoes

    Chopped Tomatoes
    Molly Watson

    Small tomatoes can be halved or quartered. Larger tomatoes will need more of a chop. In any case, you want to cut them up a bit so they start to release their juices. If you want, you can whirl them in a blender.

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  • 03 of 05

    Run Tomatoes Through a Food Mill

    Tomatoes In a Food Mill
    Molly Watson

    You can whirl the tomatoes in a blender and run the mixture through a sieve if you don't have a food mill, but a food mill will purée the tomatoes while also removing the skins and seeds from the mixture in one fell swoop. You may not use it often, but it's not an expensive tool and when you do use it, you'll be glad you have it on hand.

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  • 04 of 05

    Cook the Sauce

    Making Tomato Sauce
    Molly Watson

    This sauce is a simple one in which 5 pounds of tomatoes are turned into a purée before being cooked with 1 large peeled onion, halved, and 8 tablespoons of butter. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat to maintain a steady simmer, and cook undisturbed until the butter has melted and then separated out from the sauce, about 45 minutes.

    Garlic, olive oil, sautéed aromatics, spices, etc. can be added here instead or as well. In any case, you want to cook the mixture until it darkens, thickens, and whatever fat you've used separates out from the tomato mixture.

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  • 05 of 05

    Finished Sauce

    Tortellini With Tomato Sauce
    Molly Watson

    Cook the fresh tomato sauce until it darkens, thickens, and whatever fat you've added has separated out from the tomato mixture. If you want to add herbs, do so just for the last 5 minutes of cooking to avoid that overcooked muddy herb flavor that plagues some tomato sauces.

    Use the sauce on pasta or freeze it in whatever amount works for you. It's handy to freeze some in single portions for solo lunches and dinners, even if you also put away a family-size portion or two for quick weeknight dinners.