How to Can Tomato Sauce - Recipe and Instructions

So what do you do when you have more tomatoes than you can eat?  Make them into sauce and can them for the winter.  There were a lot of tomatoes on the counter when I left work.  Poor abandoned tomatoes.  The kinds with soft spots or cracks or that weren't quite ripe when they were picked.  I can't stand seeing waste so I took them all home and let them sit a day.  Some of them ripened to a full red and some of them got dangerously close to over ripe.  There were the egg shaped Romas, the fat slicers and the four or five kinds of cherry tomatoes.  But tomato sauce doesn't care.  Tomato sauce is accepting of all kinds of tomatoes.  It takes all into its pot and simmers them down into delicious sauce so that we can enjoy the bounty well into winter. 

To make tomato sauce all you need is tomatoes, lemon juice, canning jars and a water bath canner.  You can make sauce with any amount of tomatoes, but I would recommend having at least ten pounds fresh tomatoes to start with because it really cooks down and you won't get enough sauce to make it worth steaming up the kitchen for the better part of two hours.  In fact the University of Georgia, who is the authority on all things home food preservation, recommends 46 pounds to yield seven quarts (a full water bath canner) of thick tomato sauce.  If you've never canned before UGA has a nice intro to using water bath canners

Canned Tomato Sauce

1 teaspoon of bottled lemon juice per pint or 2 teaspoons per quart

Step 1:  Cut any damaged parts off the tomato and quarter them.  Don't worry about taking off the skin or getting the seeds out that will come later.  Throw them all into a large stock pot with all their juices.  Simmer them uncovered for about twenty minutes. 

Step 2:  Strain the tomatoes through a colander or loose weave cheese cloth.  The seeds and skins will stay behind and all the good stuff with go threw.  Put the pulp and juice back into the stock pot and simmer until volume is reduce by half.  Mean while fill your water bath canner with water and bring to a boil.  Sterilize your jars, lids and bands. 

Step 3:  Fill jars with tomato sauce straight out of the simmering pot.  Fill the jars to about 1/4 inch from the lip of the jar.  Add the bottled lemon juice. This ensures the tomatoes are acidic enough to prevent the growth of scary things like botulism.  Make sure the lip and rim is clean before putting on the lid and screw bands tightly.  

Step 4:  Process the hot jars in the boiling water bath canner.   Make sure the water level stays at least and inch above the tops of the jars.  It is handy to keep a teapot of boiling water going so that if the water evaporates below an inch you can add more with out dropping the temperature below a boil.  If the temperature drops or the water level gets too low you have to start the whole process over. 

You must know your elevation to determine how long the sauce should be in the canner.  Here's UGA's recommended process time for tomato sauce in a boiling-water canner. 
Step 5: Once the jars have processed.  Carefully remove them from the boiling water and place upside down on a towel to cool.  Once they have cooled check to see of the lid has sealed.  When you press on the lid it shouldn't compress and make a clicking noise.  If it does you should either reprocess the sauce or put it in the refrigerator and use it immediately. 

Once we get through the abundance of summer fresh produce and move into fall, I'll get into recipes using home canned tomato sauce. 

It's tomato time here on my blog. This month I'll be looking at different ways to preserve and eat tomatoes. Check out my first post where there are lots of inspiring comments for how to enjoy tomatoes. I am also adding links to the tomato posts as they are published so you will be able to find them together. Check it out here: Tomato Recipes and Ideas.

Maybe I should host my photos elsewhere because this photo looked very sharp until I upload it to Picasso and now it looks a little fuzzy.  Anyone have experience with this?  Should I just get a flicker account?  I'm sure it has something to do with the hosting of my photos or how blogger put them up.


  1. Anonymous8/22/2010

    Appreciate the info! I can see my Kitchen Aid PTO being used in the very near future for something similar.

    Btw, your original image is 500x511px (and gorgeous). Blogger is displaying @ 500x500px, that's why it's a bit wonky. Feel free to hit me up if you need more details.

  2. You are right! I must not have had the shift key down when I selected in photoshop. Normally that makes a perfect square for me, which I then make 500x500 to get around blogger resizing for me. Well this only works if I make a 500x500 image. This is a much easier fix than signing up for new image hosting.

  3. We are canning tomatoe sauce as I write. It's smells so good in the kitchen... Your sauce looks great! I also canned peaches yesterday and posted those pictures.

  4. Thanks for the lesson in canning. I make tomato sauce but usually just freeze it or refrigerate it or use it immediately. I have been wanting to can lately and have been collecting the tools to do it. I am missing 2 now. Next weekend I am going to ACE and buying them. Thanks again for the lesson.

  5. Thank you so much for this! I've always wondered about canning tomatoes. This is a perfect tutorial.

  6. I love canning tomatoes in summer. It also marks the end of summer though.

  7. Your canning is perfect. I love doing it. There's not enough room in my freezer for anything else, so it's not even optional.

  8. Great post! The sauce looks wonderful!

  9. I never can anything and admire people that do (like my mother). How about drying tomatoes?
    I use TinyPic for blog picture hosting and resize all my pictures to 500 there. I am rather satisfied with what they provide for picture editing and beautifying.

  10. I recently canned tomatoes. Where do you store them after they are canned. I was told that I needed a cold cellar. Well I don't have one and not sure where a good spot for them would be. Any suggestions? Also do you save the juice and can that. I did. Also how about the seeds and skins, my dad said my mom use to use them to make tomato paste. That sounds very labor intensive.

  11. Great advice, I hate to see those wonderful tomatoes go to waist. Great post.

  12. Anonymous8/23/2010

    Love it, great post!

  13. This is just what I did yesterday, along with some pesto as I had loads of basilic.
    I'm expecting some green tomatoes too - they are ideal for pickles.

  14. Ty for a recipe for canning tomato sauce using a hot water bath canner. Can't wait to try it!