Garden Fresh Tomatoes

There is nothing better than a fresh-picked tomato; sweet and juicy, and garden-fresh! Fresh tomatoes also make a great tasting red sauce. Homegrown tomatoes are so much healthier than what’s sold in the stores, and they are more flavorful, too. So of course, I really wanted to can some of my homegrown ‘maters!

My first foray into canning was last year when we made a basic red sauce with the tomatoes picked from my garden. We didn’t have a lot, but we were able to get a few gallons of sauce from it, and it was amazing!

Fresh homegrown tomatoes make the best red sauce!
Organic ripe tomato cluster in a greenhouse

Canned Red Sauce

Tomatoes are actually really simple to can. They can be done in a water bath instead of a pressurized canner, so it’s great for a beginning homesteader! To make them acidic enough to be safe for canning, tomatoes need an extra acid, like lemon juice or vinegar, added to the mix.

Along with the lemon juice, a few spices added will make meal-time prep even faster.  This seasoned red sauce makes a great base for Italian sauces, Mexican dishes, or soups.  And it tastes great!

Home Canned Red Sauce
Three jars of homemade fresh tomato sauce

Simple Red Sauce

An easy way to put up a basic red sauce using an Instant Pot
Course Stocks & Sauces
Cuisine American


  • Instant Pot. Mixing bowls. Slotted spoon. Knife and cutting board. Food processor or blender. Jars for canning or containers for freezing.


  • 15 Pounds Tomatoes
  • 1/3 Cup Lemon Juice or White Vinegar
  • 2 Tsp Salt
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 4 Cloves Garlic
  • 2 Tsp Oregano
  • 1 Tbsp Basil
  • 1 Tbsp Thyme
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • Salt and Pepper To Taste


Cook the Red Sauce

  • Prepare the tomatoes for blanching: Core out the stems from the tomatoes and slice a shallow "X" in the bottom of each fruit.
    Turn on the Instant Pot and set on Saute. Add olive oil, salt, and garlic and cook until browned. Add tomatoes, then cook on high pressure for 20 minutes; allow pressure to dissipate naturally.
    Roughly chop the tomatoes: Working in batches, pulse the tomatoes in the food processor. Pulse a few times for chunkier sauce, or process until smooth for a pureed sauce .Stir in the lemon juice or vinegar: A quarter-cup is necessary to ensure a safe level of acidity for canning. Add more lemon juice or vinegar to taste.

Options for Storing Sauce

  • Freeze your sauce: Let the sauce cool, then transfer it into freezer containers or freezer bags, remove as much air as possible from the bags. Sauce can be kept frozen for at least 3 months before starting to develop freezer burn or off-flavors.
    Can your sauce: Pack hot tomato sauce into hot jars to within a generous 1/2 inch of top of jar. Wipe rim. Center hot lid on jar. Apply band and adjust until fit is fingertip tight. Place filled jars in a water bath canner for 35 minutes for pints and 45 minutes for quarts, adjusting for altitude. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed.
Keyword Basic Red Sauce, Instant Pot, Tomato Sauce, Waterbath Canning

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