One of the major goals of this year’s garden was to grow all of the red sauces for my family. We figured back in winter that we would need several hundred pounds of tomatoes to get to this goal. You can go back and see our original post on this here. AS of writing this post, most of our tomato sauce is already stored up for the winter. As we were making several batches of tomato sauce we fell in love with this recipe. We found that it is a wonderful base. It is very versatile and is easily adapted to any type of sauce needed by adding spices to it when it is used. Need spaghetti sauce? It’s already done. Want a pizza sauce? Just add a few spices. You can can this recipe or use it fresh.
If you are interested in learning to can or want to expand your gardening and preserving, I researched and picked my favorite products and put them in affiliate links below. I highly recommend the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving at FreshPreserving.com. It will teach you everything you need to know about canning safely. I use it all the time. The 200 page book contains over 500 recipes for canning, pickling, dehydrating, freezing and more. It’s also a great resource and a good place to buy equipment. Just beginning? I suggest getting this starter kit: Ball Fresh Preserving Kit at FreshPreserving.com. Our meals taste like summer all year long.
We recommend looking at the Basil and Garlic Tomato Sauce from Balls website. Otherwise, read how our own recipe based on Ball’s here:
- 40 pounds of tomatoes. Washed, cored, and shopped.
- 2 cups chopped onions
- 20 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1.5 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 cup fresh basil
- 14 tbsp (.875 cups) bottled lemon juice (you will need 2 tbsp per quart and 40 pounds of tomatoes will make roughly 7 quarts – which, by the way is exactly what we can hot bath in one shot so we think these measurements works very well)
- 7 quart glasses or “cans” and maybe an extra in case you have a little more when you pack the cans. Some types of tomatoes will produce more or less than others based on how meaty and watery they are inside so it is a rough estimate. We had anywhere from 6 to 8 quarts of sauce when we started with 40 pounds.
By the way, this is approximately 40 pounds of tomatoes: ‘Merica. If you want to see the tomato tunnel in action, read this post.
Wash, core, and chop your tomatoes into quarters and set aside.
In a large stock pot, pour in the oil, chopped onions and minced garlic. Cook on medium heat until the onion is clear.
When the onion is cooked, add your chopped tomato. Notice how my oven is set to 250 in the background? After you sterilize your glass jars in a 10 minute boiling water bath it’s a great idea to keep them in the oven. They will stay sanitary and won’t crack when you pour in boiling hot liquid. If you have not done your cans yet, ignore this right now. You can start them as the sauce is thickening. It takes a few hours.
Once you add the tomatoes, keep the temp up and keep stirring to prevent any sticking and burning. The tomatoes will heat up and boil down. When the mixture starts boiling, turn the heat down until it simmers. Keep simmering for thirty minutes.
After the half hour simmer, the tomatoes will be broken down enough to easily food mill. If you don’t have a food mill, you can also do small batches in a blender. If you do the blender method, be careful. You will have to hold the top down and keep boiling hot tomatoes from flying everywhere. This is my son Jack helping with the food mill.
Take the milled or blended product and put it into another pot. It will look like tomato juice (basically, this is a tomato juice recipe at this point).
Place the contents back on a burner and add the basil. Bring to a simmer or light boil. Stir occasionally to reduce sticking and burning. Reduce to one half of the volume. We found that you have a little leeway here. If you want to thicken it up you can, but as it thickens, you also begin to scorch the sugars in the tomato and it gets a richer almost bar be cue flavor. If you want it lighter and fresher, don’t go more than 1/2 of the volume.
If you have not sanitized your glass jars, this is a great time to start. Just boil them for 10 minutes in your canner and then put them in a preheated oven at 250 degrees. Wash your lids with soapy water and simmer them in a pan. The bands can be hand washed and set aside.
The sauce will start to thicken and look like this when it is about 1/2 the volume.
Pull your cans out of your oven and set on a rack that fits into your canner. If you don’t have a rack, just set them on a cloth. Pour a little of the the very hot tomato sauce into each of the jars. Then add two tablespoons of lemon juice. I have added cold lemon juice to hot jars and had them break. That is why I recommend pouring in a small amount of the sauce first. Then fill the glass gar leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Remove bubbles by stirring with a wood or plastic utensil, wipe the jar rim with a clean cloth, place the lids on and finger tip tighten the bands.
Lower the rack into hot water making sure the water covers it by at least one inch. Turn up the heat until the water boils, keep it boiling for 40 minutes. Turn off the heat and let sit for 5 minutes. Then remove the rack with the jars and let cool. The tops should pop within 12 hours.
If you are interested in learning to can, most of the equipment and books on canning are available on Amazon.
Best if used within one year. Below are two different batches I made. The top image was a double batch of 80 pounds. That’s why there are 14 cans. Notice the color is slightly different. This is normal. Each batch has a slightly different mix of tomatoes.
For the sake of trying to figure out my garden in subsequent years, this recipe turned out to be about 5.7 pounds of tomatoes per quart.