Farm To Table | Sauces / Dips / Dressings

Canning Tomato Sauce

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Canning tomato sauce is one of the best ways to utilize lots of tomatoes from your garden. It is very simple with a water bath canning pot.

Quart jar of yellow tomato sauce.Pin
Canned tomato sauce

If you have a garden, you know that even if you just plant a few tomato plants, you end up with a ton of tomatoes by the time the growing season is over.

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One of the easier ways to use up a bunch of them is to make tomato sauce. Which you can enjoy all year long!

Don’t have time to make sauce now?

If you are short on time, there are a couple of ways to just get the fruit prepped and then can them when you have time. I even make tomato sauce in the winter when the kitchen isn’t so hot.

To preserve tomatoes for later use, freeze tomatoes whole.

Alternatively, they can be placed in a food mill or vegetable juicer/ strainer and then frozen. I like this attachment for my kitchen aid mixer. It makes quick work out of the job.

Then, when you have time to finish the sauce, just thaw and proceed with the recipe.

What type of tomatoes to use

When it comes to canning tomato sauce, it’s best to use paste tomatoes, also known as “saucing” or “processing” tomatoes. These tomatoes are meatier and have fewer seeds and less water than others, making them ideal for making a thick and flavorful sauce. Here are some of the most popular varieties of paste tomatoes:

  1. Roma: Roma tomatoes are a classic choice for making tomato sauce. They have a dense, meaty texture and a rich flavor, making them perfect for cooking down into a thick sauce.
  2. San Marzano: Use San Marzano tomatoes, an Italian variety of paste tomatoes often used to make tomato sauce. They have a sweet, slightly tangy flavor and are known for their thin skin, which makes them easy to peel.
  3. Amish Paste: Amish Paste tomatoes are an heirloom variety that is great for making tomato sauce. They have a rich, sweet flavor and a meaty texture and are especially popular among home gardeners.
  4. Jersey: Jersey tomatoes are another popular choice for making tomato sauce. They have dense, meaty flesh and a deep, complex flavor well-suited for cooking.

Overall, any variety of paste tomato will work well for canning tomato sauce as long as it has thick, meaty flesh and low water content.

But the easy answer is to use whatever tomatoes you have. They all make a delicious sauce; each variety will have a slightly different flavor. Some varieties may need to be cooked down longer to remove lots of the juice, but they are all good.

Cherry tomatoes make a delicious sauce with a touch of sweetness, but most of them are very juicy, so you’ll need lots of tomatoes to make your sauce.

What you need

  • Tomatoes- many tomatoes may be acidic enough to can without lemon juice, but it is always recommended since the acidity of the fruit varies immensely.
  • Lemon juice or citric acid – Always use bottled lemon juice because it is tested for acidity levels.
  • Salt (optional) – Choose canning salt, kosher salt, or sea salt if you use it.

Use lemon juice to get the pH of tomatoes down to 4.6.

Mixed tomatoes on barnwood. board with leaves.Pin

Procedure with juicer

Step One

Cut the tomatoes into 1/4 or 1/8-sized pieces.

Chopped tomatoes on cutting board.Pin
Chop tomatoes.

Step Two

Feed the pieces through a juicer/ strainer or food mill to remove skins and seeds.

Feeding tomatoes into juicer.Pin
Juice the tomatoes to remove skins and seeds.

Step Three

Place juice in a large pot and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and low boil until reduced by half for thick sauce.

Large pot full of tomato juice.Pin
Add juice to a large pot.

Step Four

Place juice in a large pot and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and low boil until reduced by half for thick sauce.

Juice cooked down by half, turned into sauce.Pin
Cook down by half. It will thicken into a sauce.

Step Five

Pour lemon juice into the jar. Add the tomato sauce.

Canning jar with canning funnel next to a bottle of lemon juice.Pin
Add bottled lemon juice to a jar.

Step Six

Remove air bubbles. Wipe the rims of the jars with a damp paper towel.

Center the lid on the jar. Screw on the bands fingertip tight.

Wiping the rims of the jars.Pin
Wipe the rims of the jars with a damp paper towel.

Bring the water bath canning pot to a low boil. Process pints for 35 minutes and quarts for 45 minutes; adjust the time for elevation above sea level. See this helpful article for an explanation on page 10.

Allow the jars to sit in hot water for an additional 5 minutes. Remove jars from the canning pot. Leave undisturbed for 24 hours.

Procedure without juicer

Step One

Blanch the tomatoes in boiling water for a couple of minutes.

Tomatoes added to a pot of boiling water.Pin
Blanch tomatoes.

Step Two

Cool them in an ice bath.

The peels should slide right off after they cool enough for you to touch them.

Peeling the skins off of the tomatoes. Pin
Cool them in ice water. Slip off the peels after they cool.

Step Three

Halve tomatoes and scrape out seeds. Chop up the tomatoes, or pulse them in a food processor a few times. (or use a food mill)

Peeled tomatoes with their juices.Pin
Remove the seed by hand or with a food mill.

Step Four

Place in a large pot and bring to a boil.

Large pot full of tomato juice.Pin
Add juice to a large pot.

Step Five

Turn down the heat and low boil until reduced by half for thick sauce.

Juice cooked down by half, turned into sauce.Pin
Cook down by half. It will thicken into sauce.

Step Six

Pour lemon juice into the jar. Add the tomato sauce.

Canning jar with canning funnel next to a bottle of lemon juice.Pin
Add bottled lemon juice to a jar.

Step Seven

Remove air bubbles. Wipe the rims of the jars with a damp paper towel.

Center the lid on the jar. Screw on the bands fingertip tight.

Wiping the rims of the jars.Pin
Wipe the rims of the jars with a damp paper towel.

Bring the water bath canning pot to a low boil. Process pints for 30 minutes and quarts for 45 minutes. Allow the jars to sit in hot water for an additional 5 minutes. Remove jars from the canning pot. Leave undisturbed for 24 hours.

Can you use a pressure canner?

Yes. You absolutely can use a pressure canner to can the tomato sauce. Prepare the tomatoes and cook the sauce as you would if you we using a water bath canner.

Load the jars into the canning pot. Secure the lid and let it vent for a full 10 minutes.

Place your weight or regulator on the vent. Allow the canner to come up to pressure, adjusting for elevation. (See details in recipe notes below.) Once it comes up to the correct psi, start your timer. If it ever falls below the target psi, you must restart the timer.

Once time has elapsed, remove the canner from the burner. Allow pressure to release naturally.

Once all of the pressure has been released, carefully open the lid and move it partially off the top of the canning pot. Let it rest like that for 5 minutes.

Then, remove the lid and allow the jars to rest another 5 to 10 minutes in the canning pot.

After resting, remove the hot jars to a kitchen towel placed on your counter and let them thoroughly cool for 12-24 hours, undisturbed.

Check the seals. Press down in the middle of the lid. If it flexes up or down, the jar is not sealed and should be refrigerated and used first.

Then, remove the bands. Gently pick the jar up by the lid to further check the seal. Again, if it is not sealed, use it first.

Label jars with contents and the date. Store in a cool, dark space.

The sauce can also be frozen in freezer containers if you don’t want to can it.

Quart jar of yellow tomato sauce.Pin

How to use this tomato sauce

I just use this plain recipe when canning because then I can use the jars for whatever I like throughout the year. I can add whatever I want to it, such as; onions, green peppers, mushrooms, black pepper, herbs like basil, oregano, garlic, grated cheese, and the like

  • spaghetti sauce
  • pizza sauce
  • lasagna
  • casseroles
  • sloppy joes
  • soups and stews

Helpful tools

Other delicious canned goods for the pantry

Mixed varieties of tomatoes.Pin

Want to learn how to grow tomatoes? If you love growing your own produce, these articles are packed full of information about how to get that big harvest by the end of the season! Don’t miss our How to Start a Garden Series!

The first section is Planning Your Garden. Second is Preparing the Garden Site.

The third is Choosing Plants and Planting Your Garden. The fourth is Garden Maintenance.

The last is Harvesting a Garden and Preserving the Harvest, this article has over 100 FREE recipes for preserving your harvest!

Quart jar of red tomato sauce with fresh tomatoes.Pin
Canned Tomato Sauce

I hope you like this article about canning tomato sauce. Be warned, once you make your own, you won’t want to buy it from the grocery store anymore!

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If you have any questions or comments, please ask in the comment section below. We’d love to hear from you.

I hope you enjoyed the recipe today.

Enjoy. And have fun cooking!

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Tomato sauce in jars with fresh tomatoes.Pin

Canning Tomato Sauce

Canning tomato sauce is one of the best ways to utilize lots of tomatoes from your garden. It is very simple with a water bath canning pot.
See Step by Step Photos Above!Most of our recipes have step by step photos and videos! Also helpful tips so that you can make it perfectly the first time and every time! Scroll up to see them!
5 from 5 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: canning, sauce
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Servings: 4 quarts
Calories: 532kcal
Author: Beth Neels
Cost: $5

Ingredients

  • 26 pounds tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoon bottled lemon juice or ½ tsp. citric acid
  • 1 teaspoon salt optional

Instructions

Blanching and Food mill to skin and remove seeds

  • Start a large pot of water over high heat boiling. Set up another large bowl with ice water.
  • Once water is boiling, remove cores from tomatoes.
  • With a slotted spoon, add small batches of tomatoes to the boiling water. Boil for about 2 minutes. Using the same spoon, pull tomatoes out of the boiling water and add to bowl with ice water.
  • Working one at a time, slip skins off of tomatoes.
  • Use the food mill to remove the seeds.

Juicer strainer attachment for Kitchenaid mixer

  • Wash and core tomatoes. Cut into chunks large enough to fit through the hopper. Process the chunks of tomatoes with another large bowl or pot to collect the juices.

For both methods

  • Add collected juice to large pot. Bring to boil.
  • Once boiling, reduce heat. At a high simmer, cook down sauce to desired consistency, stirring occasionally, usually at least 40 minutes.
  • Add lemon juice and salt, if using to each jar.
  • Once sauce is cooked down, ladle sauce into jars, using a canning funnel to avoid spills. Leave ½ inch headspace..
  • Remove air bubbles with bubble tool or knife.
  • Wipe rim of the jar with damp paper towel or clean kitchen towel. Place hot lids on jars. Screw on the bands until fingertip tight.
  • Process jars 45 minutes, depending on elevation. Remove from heat. Allow jars to sit in hot water an additional 5 minutes.
  • Remove jars from canning pot using a jar lifter to avoid burns. Allow to rest on counter for 24 hours. Test lids for seal. (press lids in center, if they flex up and down, store that jar in the refrigerator.
  • Store in a cool, dark place for at least 1 year.
See all of my favorite tools and gift ideas on my New Amazon Store!Check out Binky’s Amazon Store!

Video

Notes

Jars to not need to be sterilized due to the long processing time of tomatoes.
You must use bottled lemon juice or citric acid when canning tomato products to reduce the risk of  Clostridium botulinum, the bacteria that causes botulism, among other pathogens.
Altitude adjustments: Water Bath canning pot
Pint jars
  • 0-1000 feet above sea level – 35 minutes.
  • 1000-3000 feet above sea level – 40 minutes
  • 3000-6000 feet above sea level – 45 minutes
  • above 6000 feet – 50 minutes
Quart Jars
  • 0-1000 feet above sea level – 40 minutes.
  • 1000-3000 feet above sea level – 45 minutes
  • 3000-6000 feet above sea level – 50 minutes
  • above 6000 feet – 55 minutes
Tomato Sauce can also be processed in a pressure canner.
Process pints for 20 minutes for dial gauge pressure canners at the following pressures, adjusted for elevation.
  • 0-1000 feet above sea level – 6 pounds
  • 1000-3000 feet above sea level – 7 pounds
  • 3000-6000 feet above sea level – 8 pounds
  • above 6000 feet – 9 pounds
For Dial gauge Pressure canning quarts, process for 15 minutes at the following pressures, adjusted for elevation.
  • 0-1000 feet above sea level – 11 pounds
  • 1000-3000 feet above sea level – 12 pounds
  • 3000-6000 feet above sea level – 13 pounds
  • above 6000 feet – 14 pounds
For Weighted Gauge pressure canners both pint and quart jars
Pressure can for 15 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure. 0-1000 feet. Above 1000 feet 15 minutes at 15 pounds per square inch (psi)
Use whatever tomatoes you have. They all make great sauce. Some popular varieties are cherry tomatoes, san marzano and roma. Meaty tomatoes are best.

Nutrition

Serving: 1quart | Calories: 532kcal | Carbohydrates: 115g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 729mg | Potassium: 6988mg | Fiber: 35g | Sugar: 78g | Vitamin A: 24560IU | Vitamin C: 407mg | Calcium: 295mg | Iron: 8mg
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Originally published September 2, 2020. Updated March 28, 2023.

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10 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    What a wonderful way to have the delicious flavor of summer-y tomatoes to enjoy all year through! Gorgeous, garden-fresh tomatoes are one of my favorite summer foods! I don’t do a lot of canning, so your tips are super helpful!

  2. 5 stars
    This tomato sauce came out so wonderful! I made a big batch and tried some yesterday with pasta and it was a hit! Thank you!

  3. 5 stars
    I am so jealous of all your gorgeous tomatoes, mine aren’t as pretty, but they are still going to be amazing canned! Can’t wait to open a jar of these this winter.

    1. They all taste the same. I planted Cherokee Purple this year and they are a crazy mess, as far as looks. They are super sweet and delicious though! Thanks Pam!

  4. 5 stars
    This is so cool! I haven’t canned anything before, but this tutorial makes it so doable. I cant wait to try it!

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