Tomato sauce is the perfect comfort food. It’s rich, hearty, and can be made with many ingredients to suit the season or your taste buds. Making tomato sauce without peeling the tomatoes is a great way to save time in the kitchen – chop them up and get cooking!
Here is how to get started canning tomatoes for easy and fast tomato sauce.
Canning Tomato Sauce Tips
#1 Start with the freshest, best-looking tomatoes. If possible, buy them from a farmers’ market or your garden. If you have to accept them at the store, choose vine-ripened ones that are firm and blemish-free.
#2 Wash the tomatoes in cold running water before starting
#3 Scald your jars in simmering (not boiling) water for about 10 minutes to sterilize them before you assemble the tomato sauce. Please make sure they are dry so that new lids can adhere well. Reduce heat to prevent scorching of the jars.
Be sure to get all your items needed out. You will need a nice sharp knife, a big bowl, your food strainer- my favorite one and the one I will be demonstrating in this post is the Kitchen Aid attachment- food strainer. You will need the grinder attachment to use the strainer if you are using your Kitchenaid.
The strainer attachment is sold out in many places online in 2021.
Prepping Tomatoes to Use in a Food Strainer
A food strainer is a great tool:
1. It removes the skin and seeds of tomatoes in seconds
2. The leftover pulp that’s caught in the strainer can be added to soups or casseroles for extra flavor
3. There’s no need to peel the tomatoes
Using a food strainer to remove the skin and seeds is one of the easiest ways to prepare tomatoes for canning. Once I bought this for my KitchenAid, I made big batches of all different sauces, salsa, and more. You don’t necessarily have to use the Kitchenaid attachment. There are stand-alone strainers like this one on Amazon.
Wash tomatoes if you didn’t yet. Slice each tomato in half. Roma tomatoes are the best choice for sauce because of their thicker skin and firmer flesh. If you do mix in other varieties, the result will be a watery sauce. You can always cook your sauce longer, but you can’t remove excess water from the cooked sauce.
I put all my cut tomatoes in one big bowl. My kids love helping with this part, and it makes the process even faster if you can grab a helper.
The kids will take each sliced tomato and place it in the food strainer. Depending on the size of your Roma’s, you may be able to leave some holes to put in the Kitchenaid food strainer.
Once you have all your tomatoes through the strainer, you are going to start cooking your sauce.
I let my sauce go right into the stockpot I will be cooking them down in. Unless I’m making a huge batch, then I use a large stockpot like this.
I find it’s easiest to can regular tomato sauce and then add seasons and such as you go.
But of course, this is where you could turn the tomato sauce into spaghetti sauce too.
Cook your sauce down until it is reduced by half. This will vary depending on the variety of tomatoes you use.
You can check out my TikTok video of the Kitchenaid in action below.
Put tomatoes through the Blender.
If you do not have a food filter, you can use a blender. In a blender, add 1 cup of chopped tomatoes and blend until smooth. Do not put hot ingredients in a blender. It will cause it to explode!
After putting it in the blender, you can cook your sauce down. I have done this in the past, and you will get a few of the skins curled up. But, again, it is a personal preference. If you have picky kids, I will opt for removing skins.
If you were going to make a spaghetti sauce, you could blend up any other ingredients too. For example, in the past, I would blend up onions and garlic before cooking down.
Canning Tomato Sauce Recipe Instructions
These instructions are for a water bath canner. Check out the post here for all the best supplies you need to start water bath canning. These steps are once you have your tomatoes through a filter and already cooked down.
The amount of tomatoes is up to you. There is no right amount needed. If this is your first time canning, I’ll warn you it may be a shock at how many tomatoes you use for a few jars of sauce- but trust me, it’s worth it. The cost is much better if you grow your tomatoes.
Step 1. Prepare your jars and preheat the water bath to a higher temp, so it is ready when you are done making sauce. I fill to the second line on my canner. You want the water to cover your jars when they are submerged.
Step 2. Fill the bottom of a large pot with cold water, place jars inside and bring them up to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat slightly so that they’re still steaming hot but not boiling. This is the water bath process that will sterilize your jars and lids. You can sterilize your jars first and then lids. We like to leave the lids in a hot pot of water until ready to use. The jars tend to stay warm much longer.
Step 3. Place lids in the pot of simmering water, making sure they are completely submerged
Step 4. Begin preparing your tomatoes for the food strainer by slicing them in half. Depending on the size of your Romas, some may fit right in the strainer without the need to cut.
After making your tomato sauce, you are ready to add it to your sterilized canning jars.
Step 5. Once all your tomatoes are strained, place them in a large stockpot to boil down the sauce in half. In a large pot, add sauce and bring just to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered, occasionally stirring, for 30-90 minutes until the tomato sauce is thickened to your liking.
The amount of time you will need to simmer depends on how much water is in your tomatoes from your garden or the grocery store. If your sauce is too thin, it will be watery if you get distracted and forget to check on it for 30 min. On the other hand, it can take up to 2 hours if you don’t remove all of the tomatoes’ moisture.
If you want to season your sauce, you can do that too. I do add salt to my plain tomato sauce. Salt until your liking. I don’t add much because this is usually the base for many dishes to which I add additional seasonings and salt. Of course, you can always add more salt- but you can’t take the saltiness away.
Step 6. Once your sauce has been reduced by half, place a funnel into the mouth of each jar and fill with 1 Tbsp bottled lemon juice for pint jars and 2 Tbsp bottled lemon juice for quart size jar.
Step 7. Then add your sauce to your jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Next, remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary, by adding hot sauce.
Step 8. Remove lids from simmering water one at a time, using tongs or a magnet to get them out of the pot. Place them on top of jars and screw on tightly to secure ring around lid – do not overtighten
Step 9. Using tongs, carefully place jars into a simmering water bath and process pint jars for 35 minutes and quart jars for 40 minutes.
Step 10. After processing, remove jars straight up from the water and allow them to cool on a rack or towel-lined countertop undisturbed for 24 hours. Please do not touch the jars at all after you have removed them from the water bath canner. The jars have just finished sealing; if you notice, the center of each lid has indented slightly.
Step 11. Check to make sure your lids have been sealed by pressing down on the top of the lid. Pushing down means it is not sealed so remove these jars from your pantry immediately. They are not safe to store in there. If the lid pops back up when you press it down, then it is sealed properly.
Step 12. Label your jars with the contents and date so that nobody accidentally stumbles on a jar of tomato sauce from last year’s garden hidden in your pantry!
If you see any jars that haven’t sealed properly, open them immediately and refrigerate or re-can through the water bath process.
Do you know if it’s necessary to add lemon juice when canning tomatoes?
Yes, it is necessary to add lemon juice when making tomato sauce in your water bath canner. To recap, add 1 Tbsp bottled lemon juice for pint jars and 2 Tbsp bottled lemon juice for quart size jar.
Pressure Canning Tomato Sauce
You can pressure can your tomato sauce in a regular pressure canner by cutting the cooking time down to about 15 minutes for pint jars and 20 minutes for quart jars.
There are many different methods for making tomato sauce, such as roasting, which creates a more intense flavor or simmering whole tomatoes to get the pulp out.
- The best way for you will depend on how much time you have and what equipment you happen to have on hand.
Try using the boiling water bath first for the canning newbies, as it’s easier to do.
That’s it! You now know how to make tomato sauce using a water bath canner. It is easy, straightforward, and will provide you with delicious tomato sauce for the winter months ahead.
I hope this article helped show you what steps are needed to ensure that your food is safe no matter what kind of canning method you choose. Feel free to share this blog post if you found any part of it interesting or informative! Happy Canning!