Home Grown 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. 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.
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.
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
- 15 Pounds Tomatoes
- 1/3 Cup Lemon Juice
- 2 Tsp Salt
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 4 Cloves Garlic, minced
- 2 Tsp Oregano, dried
- 1 Tbsp basil leaves
- 1 Tbsp Thyme
- 1 Leaf Bay
- Salt & Pepper to Taste
Equipment 6 1/2-quart or larger Dutch oven or stockpot Mixing bowls Slotted spoon Knife and cutting board Food processor or blender Jars for canning or containers for freezing
Boil a pot of water and prep the ice bath: Bring a large Dutch oven or stockpot of water to a boil over high heat. Fill a mixing bowl with ice and water and set this next to the stove.
Prepare the tomatoes for blanching: Core out the stems from the tomatoes and slice a shallow "X" in the bottom of each fruit.
Blanch the tomatoes to peel them: Working in batches, drop several tomatoes into the boiling water. Cook until you see the skin starting to wrinkle and split, 45 to 60 seconds, then lift the tomatoes out with the slotted spoon and plunge them into the ice water. Continue with the rest of the tomatoes, transferring the cooled tomatoes from the ice water to another mixing bowl as they cool.
Strip the peels from the tomatoes: When finished blanching, use your hands or a paring knife to strip the skins from the tomatoes. Discard the water used to boil the tomatoes.
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. Transfer each batch into the Dutch oven or stockpot. Alternatively, chop the tomatoes by hand. Process through a food mill for a smoother sauce. For a very chunky sauce, skip this step entirely and let the tomatoes break down into large pieces as they cook.
Simmer the tomatoes: Bring the tomato sauce to a simmer over medium heat. Continue simmering for 30 to 90 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce reaches the taste and consistency you like.
Stir in the lemon juice and salt: When finished cooking, stir in the lemon juice or vinegar and salt. A quarter-cup is necessary to ensure a safe level of acidity for canning. Add more lemon juice or vinegar to taste.
Storing Tomato Sauce Options
Freeze your sauce: Let the sauce cool, then transfer it into freezer containers or freezer 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 tomatoes into hot jars to within a generous 1/2 inch of top of jar. Press tomatoes into the jar until the spaces between them fill with juice, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Add 1 teaspoon salt to each quart jar, 1/2 teaspoon to each pint jar, if desired. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary, by adding hot tomatoes. Wipe rim. Center hot lid on jar. Apply band and adjust until fit is fingertip tight.bPlace jar in boiling water canner. Repeat until all jars are filled.
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.