Tomato Sauce Canning Recipe (Homemade Essentials)

Tomato Sauce Canning Recipe (Homemade Essentials)

If you’re looking to preserve the flavor and freshness of tomatoes, canning homemade tomato sauce is the way to go. With this simple and easy recipe, you can enjoy the taste of summer all year round. Whether you have an abundance of Roma tomatoes or other meaty varieties like San Marzano, this tomato sauce canning recipe will guide you through the process step by step.

Key Takeaways:

  • Learn how to can tomato sauce at home to enjoy homemade essentials all year round.
  • Discover different methods for preparing tomatoes, including blanching or using a food mill.
  • Ensure the proper acidity for safe water bath canning by adding citric acid or bottled lemon juice.
  • Find out the processing time and storage guidelines for canned tomato sauce.
  • Explore the versatile uses of homemade tomato sauce in various dishes.

Preparing the Tomatoes for Canning

Before you can start canning tomato sauce, you’ll need to prepare the tomatoes. There are three methods you can choose from.

  1. Blanching Tomatoes: This method involves briefly submerging the tomatoes in boiling water and then transferring them to an ice bath. The heat causes the skins to loosen, making them easy to remove. This method is ideal if you want to remove the skins but keep the seeds intact.
  2. Using a Food Mill: A food mill is a kitchen tool that helps separate the skins and seeds from the tomato flesh. Simply process the tomatoes through the mill, and the skins and seeds will be strained out. This method is great if you prefer a smoother tomato sauce without any unwanted texture.
  3. Blending Tomatoes for Sauce: If you don’t mind the skins and seeds, you can simply blend the tomatoes to create a sauce. This method is quick and easy, but keep in mind that the skins and seeds will be present in the final product.

Each method has its own advantages, and the choice depends on your preference and the desired consistency of the sauce. It’s important to note that removing the skins and seeds can help create a smoother sauce, but it’s not necessary if you don’t mind a slightly chunkier texture.

Using the right method to prepare your tomatoes for canning is crucial to achieving the desired texture and taste in your homemade tomato sauce.

Canning Tomato Sauce

Once you have prepared the tomatoes, you are ready to can the tomato sauce. It’s important to add an acidifier such as citric acid or bottled lemon juice to ensure the proper acidity for safe water bath canning. The processing time for canning tomato sauce will depend on the size of the jars and your altitude. Pint jars should be processed for about 35 minutes, while quart jars will require around 40 minutes. After canning, store the jars in a cool, dark place for optimal storage conditions.

To give you a better understanding of the canning process for tomato sauce, here is a step-by-step guide:

  1. Prepare the tomato sauce according to your preferred recipe.
  2. Fill sterilized canning jars with the hot tomato sauce, leaving an appropriate headspace (usually 1/2 inch or as recommended by the recipe).
  3. Add citric acid or bottled lemon juice to each jar, following the recommended amount for the jar size.
  4. Remove air bubbles by running a non-metallic utensil along the sides of the jar.
  5. Wipe the jar rims with a clean, damp cloth to ensure a proper seal.
  6. Place sterilized canning lids and rings on the jars, tightening the rings until finger-tight.
  7. Place the filled jars in a water bath canner, making sure the water covers the jars by at least 1 inch.
  8. Bring the water to a rolling boil and process the jars for the recommended time based on your jar size and altitude.
  9. After the processing time, carefully remove the jars from the water bath canner using a jar lifter and place them on a towel-lined surface.
  10. Allow the jars to cool completely undisturbed for 12 to 24 hours.
  11. Check the seals by pressing the center of each lid. If it doesn’t move, the jar is sealed. If it pops back, refrigerate the jar and use it within a week.
  12. Label and date the sealed jars before storing them in a cool, dark place.

By following these steps, you can safely preserve your homemade tomato sauce and enjoy its delicious flavors throughout the year.

Processing Time Pint Jars Quart Jars
0-1,000 ft 35 minutes 40 minutes
1,001-3,000 ft 40 minutes 45 minutes
3,001-6,000 ft 45 minutes 50 minutes
Above 6,000 ft 50 minutes 55 minutes

Remember to adjust the processing time based on your altitude to ensure safe canning.

Homemade Tomato Sauce Uses

Homemade tomato sauce is a versatile ingredient that can elevate your culinary creations. Whether you’re making a comforting bowl of spaghetti or whipping up a batch of mouthwatering pizza, homemade tomato sauce is the key to unlocking delicious flavors. Let’s explore the various uses of homemade tomato sauce and how it can enhance your favorite dishes.

Spaghetti Sauce

When it comes to classic Italian cuisine, homemade tomato sauce is a must for spaghetti sauce. Simmer the sauce with garlic, onions, and aromatic herbs like basil and oregano for a rich and flavorful pasta topping that will impress your family and friends.

Pizza Sauce

No pizza is complete without a flavorful sauce, and homemade tomato sauce delivers the perfect balance of tanginess and sweetness. Spread it on your pizza dough, layer on your favorite toppings, and let the oven work its magic, creating a sensational homemade pizza that will rival your favorite pizzerias.


Homemade tomato sauce adds depth and richness to chili, amplifying its flavor profile. Whether you prefer a hearty beef chili or a vegetarian version packed with beans and veggies, the addition of tomato sauce brings warmth and complexity to this comforting dish.

Enchilada Sauce

Add a touch of homemade tomato sauce to your enchilada recipes for a delightful burst of flavor. The sauce harmonizes with the richness of the cheese and spices, creating a vibrant and satisfying dish that will transport your taste buds to Mexican culinary heaven.

Tomato Soup

On a chilly day, nothing beats a warm bowl of homemade tomato soup. The velvety texture and tangy taste of tomato sauce will transform a simple soup into a comforting and nourishing meal. Pair it with a grilled cheese sandwich for the ultimate comfort food experience.

These are just a few examples of the many ways you can incorporate homemade tomato sauce into your cooking. The possibilities are endless, and you can customize the sauce by adding your favorite herbs, spices, and other ingredients. With a jar of homemade tomato sauce in your pantry, you’ll always have a versatile and delicious ingredient on hand to create quick and flavorful meals.

Tips and FAQs for Canning Tomato Sauce

When it comes to canning tomato sauce, it’s helpful to know some tips and frequently asked questions to ensure successful preservation. Here are some insights to guide you:

Tips for Canning Tomato Sauce:

  1. Storing Canned Tomato Sauce: Canned tomato sauce can be kept for at least 12 months, maintaining its quality. However, after that period, the flavor and texture may begin to degrade. It’s best to consume the sauce within the first year for optimal taste.
  2. Freezing Canned Tomato Sauce: If you have leftover tomato sauce after canning, freezing it is an excellent option. Transfer the sauce to airtight containers or freezer bags, leaving enough headspace for expansion, and freeze for up to 6 months.
  3. Tomato Sauce Consistency: If your tomato sauce turns out thinner than desired, you can cook it down further to thicken the consistency. Simmer the sauce over low heat until it reaches the desired thickness, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching.
  4. Refrigerating Tomato Sauce: If you have prepared tomato sauce but don’t have the time to can it immediately, you can refrigerate it for up to 24 hours. Ensure the sauce is stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator to maintain freshness.
  5. Bubbles in Canned Tomato Sauce: It’s normal for bubbles to form in canned tomato sauce. As long as these bubbles are not actively moving or expanding, there is no cause for concern. The bubbles will dissipate over time and do not affect the quality or safety of the sauce.
  6. Processing Half-Filled Jars: Occasionally, you may have partially filled jars of tomato sauce. These can still be processed safely, provided you follow the proper processing instructions for the batch size and jar type you are using.

Frequently Asked Questions about Canning Tomato Sauce:

Q: How long does canned tomato sauce keep?

A: Canned tomato sauce can be kept for at least 12 months before its quality may begin to degrade.

Q: Can I freeze canned tomato sauce?

A: Yes, you can freeze canned tomato sauce for up to 6 months if you have leftover sauce.

Q: What can I do if my tomato sauce is too thin?

A: If your tomato sauce turns out too thin, you can cook it down further to thicken the consistency.

Q: Can I refrigerate tomato sauce before canning?

A: Yes, you can refrigerate tomato sauce for up to 24 hours if you need to delay the canning process.

Q: Are bubbles in canned tomato sauce normal?

A: Yes, bubbles in canned tomato sauce are normal as long as they are not actively moving or expanding.

Q: Can I process half-filled jars of tomato sauce?

A: Yes, you can process half-filled jars of tomato sauce as long as you follow the proper processing instructions.

Storage Method Shelf Life
Pantry 12 months+
Refrigerator Up to 24 hours before canning
Freezer Up to 6 months

Choosing the Right Tomatoes for Canning Tomato Sauce

When it comes to canning tomato sauce, selecting the right tomatoes is crucial for achieving the perfect flavor and texture. While there are various tomato varieties available, some work better than others for canning purposes. Let’s explore the best options for your homemade tomato sauce.

Plum Tomatoes

Plum tomatoes, also known as paste tomatoes, are a popular choice for canning tomato sauce. These tomatoes have a meaty texture and lower water content, making them ideal for producing a thick and rich sauce. Their oblong shape and easy-to-remove skin also facilitate the canning process.

Roma Tomatoes

Roma tomatoes are a specific type of plum tomato that is widely used for making tomato sauce. They are known for their dense flesh, few seeds, and intense tomato flavor. Roma tomatoes are easy to peel and have a higher solid-to-liquid ratio, resulting in a concentrated sauce with a robust taste.

San Marzano Tomatoes

San Marzano tomatoes are considered the gold standard for tomato sauce due to their exceptional flavor and superior quality. These Italian heirloom tomatoes are meaty, low in acidity, and have a sweet taste. San Marzano tomatoes are known for their elongated shape and firm texture, making them perfect for canning.

Beefsteak Tomatoes

If you prefer a chunkier-style tomato sauce, beefsteak tomatoes are a great option. These large tomatoes are juicy and have a high water content, which lends a fresh and vibrant taste to the sauce. While they contain more seeds, they can still be used for canning tomato sauce if you prefer a rustic texture.

Cherry and Grape Tomatoes

Don’t overlook small tomato varieties like cherry and grape tomatoes when it comes to canning tomato sauce. While they require a bit more effort to peel and work with due to their size, they can add a burst of sweetness and complexity to your sauce. Consider combining them with larger tomato varieties for a unique flavor profile.

Regardless of the tomato variety you choose, ensure that the tomatoes are ripe but firm for the best results. Remember to always wash and remove any blemishes or damaged parts before starting the canning process.

Now that you know which tomatoes to choose, let’s move on to the essential tools and supplies needed for canning tomato sauce.

Essential Tools and Supplies for Canning Tomato Sauce

To successfully can tomato sauce, you will need certain tools and supplies. These include:

  • Water Bath Canner: A large pot with a rack or insert that is used for processing jars in boiling water.
  • Canning Jars: Glass jars specifically designed for canning, available in various sizes.
  • Canning Lids and Rings: Two-piece lids that create a seal on the jars during processing.
  • Jar Lifter: A specialized tool that allows you to safely lift and handle hot jars.
  • Canning Funnel: A funnel with a wide mouth and a narrow stem, designed to fit regular-mouth canning jars, making it easier to pour the sauce without spills.
  • Food Mill or Sieve: A tool used to remove seeds and skins from the tomatoes, resulting in a smoother sauce.
  • Knives: Sharp knives for cutting and preparing the tomatoes.
  • Cutting Boards: Sturdy cutting boards for safely chopping the tomatoes and other ingredients.
  • Dish Towels: Clean dish towels for handling jars, wiping spills, and maintaining a clean work surface.

These items are essential for the canning process and can be easily found in hardware or grocery stores, especially during the late summer and early fall when canning season is in full swing.


Canning tomato sauce is an excellent method for preserving the delicious taste of fresh tomatoes and enjoying the flavors of summer all year round. By following the right tomato sauce canning recipe and using the proper tools and techniques, you can easily create homemade tomato sauce that will enhance your favorite dishes.

Whether you choose to use the tomato sauce as a base for various recipes or simply enjoy it on its own, the burst of flavor it adds to your meals is unmatched. Imagine the satisfaction of knowing that you have a jar of your own homemade tomato sauce ready to go whenever you need it.

Don’t let those home-grown tomatoes go to waste. Embrace the art of homemade tomato sauce preservation and elevate your culinary creations. Start canning tomato sauce today and treat yourself to the taste of summer, no matter the season.


How long can canned tomato sauce be kept?

Canned tomato sauce can be kept for at least 12 months, but its quality may begin to degrade after that. It can also be frozen for later use if you have leftovers.

What can I do if my tomato sauce turns out too thin?

If your tomato sauce turns out too thin, you can cook it down further to thicken it.

Can I refrigerate tomato sauce before canning it the next day?

Yes, refrigerating tomato sauce before canning it the next day is a viable option.

Are bubbles in canned tomato sauce normal?

Yes, bubbles in canned tomato sauce are normal as long as they are not actively moving.

Can I process half-filled jars of tomato sauce?

Yes, you can process half-filled jars of tomato sauce, but be sure to follow the proper processing instructions.

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