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The Easiest Way to Can Fresh Tomatoes for Sauce

10:07 PM

As a family of 8, we go through a lot of tomato-based products: soup, enchilada sauce, spaghetti sauce, and pizza sauce. But the cost to feed a family adds up, and our garden was exploding with tomatoes this year, so I thought I had better get over my fear or canning tomato products and start with an easy sauce recipe.

As it turns out, this recipe is the EASIEST. Anyone can do it. And the result is a thin but flavorful sauce that can be used as a base for all of your favorite tomato sauces.  To make this, you'll need the following products -- in addition to your fresh tomatoes -- all available at Walmart in the canning aisle!

  • Large stock pot or sauce pan (not aluminum!!)
  • Boiling water canner with lid
  • Rack
  • 7 pint jars
  • 7 sets of rings and lids
  • citric acid powder
  • your choice of seasonings (I like Great Value Italian seasoning)
  • Jar lifters
  • Lid lifter
  • Headspace measurer
  • Timer

Start with washed tomatoes. Cut away all the icky parts, dark spots, and stems. Then, cut the tomatoes into large chunks and put them into your stock pot. 

Cook on medium high, continually adding more tomatoes as you cut them.  Fill the pot to the top!

As you finish adding tomatoes, start mashing them in the pot with a potato masher.  After all the tomatoes are hot and bubbly, you can use a handheld blender (I like my Kitchenaid) to blend up all the tomatoes.  This method results in a thicker sauce, and there is NO need to separate out the seeds and skins or run the tomatoes through a strainer.

After completely blended, cook on medium for an hour, or until one third of the sauce has evaporated. You should now have a thicker sauce!  During the last 30 minutes of cooking, you'll want to prepare your canning pot and jars.

Start with freshly washed jars, rings, and lids. Put fresh water in your boiling water bath canner up to the ridge marked on the pot. Cook the water on high until it comes to a rolling boil. You may dip your jars and the lids and rings into the boiling water for the last 10 minutes to get them completely sterilized, if you wish.

Once the water and sauce are ready. Take out the hot jars with the jar lifter and set them down. Into each jar add your choice of seasoning (I like 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning spice) and 1/4 teaspoon citric acid powder.

Place a funnel in them and ladle the hot sauce directly into the hot jars. 

Use a clean rag to wipe the mouth of each jar free of any sauce that may have gotten on them. Then put the hot lid on each.  Add the rings and tighten with your fingers.  Then, use the jar lifters to place each jar into the hot water bath.

Make sure the jars are covered by an inch of water (add more if needed.)  Get the water back up to boiling. Boil for a total of 30 minutes with the lid on.

Once done, remove the lid, turn off the heat, and let the jars sit in the water for 5 minutes.  Remove them and set on a towel on your counter and do not disturb for 24 hours.  You should hear the "pop" sound of the lids sealing over the next hour or so. If you don't hear them -- don't panic. You may have missed one or it may come later.

Store the sealed sauce for up to a year in your cabinet.  Use it as a base for any delicious tomato sauce recipe!

Now is the time to stock up on your canning supplies. If your store is out of what you need, you can always order online.

What will you be canning this year?

As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I've received compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.  Links to shopping sites may be referral links.

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  1. That is how I prepare the tomatoes for canning or for sauce also. I also threw some chopped up yellow squash in with tomatoes and then ground them all up with the immersion blender. I did not mash anything first. To thicken it a little without additional cooking time, I add 2 or 3 small cans of tomato paste after it is all finished cooking and processed with the immersion blender.