Having good quality tomato sauce at hand is a great way to top off a homecooked dinner. Many pasta dishes, casseroles, and other recipes require tomato sauce or fresh tomatoes. Using homemade tomato sauce for such dishes reduces the prep and cooking time without sacrificing the flavor. Whether you can or freeze the sauce, it's an easy way to preserve the season's tomato harvest for use throughout the year.
Choose any tomato to make this recipe. Paste tomatoes are preferred because they contain less water and fewer seeds. Roma, San Marzano, Amish, Opalka, and Polish Linguisa tomatoes are amazing for tomato sauce. Larger tomatoes like Jersey tomatoes (Jersey Giant and Jersey Devil) are good as well. No matter the tomato variety you choose, be sure they're ripe, firm, unblemished, and vibrant in color.
The recipe yields 1 quart, but you can double or triple it to make bigger batches.
- 5 to 6 pounds tomatoes (ripe; washed)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 medium onion (chopped)
- 1 to 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1/2 teaspoon basil (dry)
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano (dry)
- Salt (to taste)
- Pepper (to taste)
- Optional: 2 tablespoons lemon juice (or 1/2 teaspoon citric acid; for canning)
- Optional: 1/4 cup carrots (washed, peeled, grated)
- Optional: 1/4 cup bell peppers (red; washed, finely chopped)
- Optional: 1 teaspoon sugar (or 1 teaspoon baking soda)
- Optional: Additional spices (dry rosemary, tarragon)
Gather the ingredients.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Prepare a large bowl of cold water with ice.
Using a paring knife, make an X-shaped superficial cut at the bottom of each tomato.
Plunge the tomatoes into the boiling water for 2 minutes to loosen the skin. Place the tomatoes into the cold water bath to stop the cooking process.
Place the blanched tomatoes in a colander to drain. Let them cool off at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes.
When the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, remove the skins by pulling the skin from the X mark you made at the bottom. Use a knife to help the process.
Core the tomatoes and remove any undesired pieces. Slice each tomato in half. Scoop out the seeds to the best of your abilities. A few pieces of skin or seeds won't affect the result.
In a large pot, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. If using the optional vegetables, add them when the onions are translucent and cook everything for an extra 5 minutes.
Once the vegetable mixture is soft, add the tomatoes, sugar (or baking soda), and herbs to the pot. Bring everything to a boil.
Reduce the heat to low. Simmer, uncovered, stirring frequently and scraping the sides until the sauce reaches the desired consistency, about 2 to 3 hours. If your raw tomatoes were juicy, the process can take longer.
Freeze or can the sauce, or place some in the refrigerator to use within 5 days.
Serve in your favorite recipes and enjoy!
Freeze the Sauce
Let the sauce cool completely, then pour into freezer containers, bags, or jars, leaving 1 inch of headspace to allow for expansion. To make using it easier, divide the sauce into the average serving size you'll need for recipes, such as 1 or 2 cups per container. Date and label the containers and place them in the freezer.
Can the Sauce
If you're canning the sauce, mix in the lemon juice (or citric acid) before transferring it to the jars. By changing the pH of the sauce, you are preventing the growth of harmful bacteria.
Turn on the canning kettle and sterilize the jars.
While it's still hot, pour the sauce into the jars using a clean spatula or a plastic funnel, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace space at the top of the jar.
Screw on the lids and place the jars in a canning rack. Add enough water to cover the jars by one inch. Process the jars in boiling water for 35 to 40 minutes, keeping an eye on the water level and adding more if needed.
Remove the jars from the canning kettle and let cool at room temperature. Label them with the date and store in a dark and cool place.
- Use freezer jars if you want to freeze your sauce or canning jars if you'd like to can your sauce for shelf-stable storage.
- Canned or frozen tomato sauce will keep up to a year.
- Once opened, refrigerate the jar and use the sauce within 5 days.