This was my first time canning tomato sauce, I've found it's not terribly hard to make a simple one from good quality canned tomatoes, but a local farm ran a deal on tomatoes that made this sauce very cost effective. After a trial run of one batch to see how my family liked it, I ended up making 3 more double batches for a total of 28 jars. More than half will be passed out to family and friends, but I definitely look forward to having my own jars to open on nights I want a quick, simple meal to cook.
The America's Test Kitchen Foolproof Preserving Cookbook is excellent for beginner canners, or more experienced canners, like myself, who prefer to can in smaller batches. This recipe, from their cookbook, truly makes use of summer's best tomatoes. Adding garlic, basil, salt, and sugar, to balance the tomato flavor, rivals the best jarred sauce. They found a way to bring up the acidity, to make it safe for water bath canning, by adding red wine vinegar to each jar. We couldn't even taste the vinegar in the warmed up sauce, it fits right into the original flavor profile.
If you're new, or a pro, at canning, this is a fantastic recipe to start, or add to, your jar collection. If you don't can, ATK does give instructions for short term storage, if you feel like making a fantastic tomato sauce to have on hand. My first jar was delicious with zoodles (zucchini noodles) and whole wheat pasta, how will you serve yours?
Makes four 1-pint jars, recipe can be doubled, increase sauce cooking time to about two hours.
Recipe slightly adapted from America's Test Kitchen: Foolproof Preserving: A Guide to Small Batch Jams, Jellies, Pickles, Condiments, and More Paperback – April 26, 2016
Step 1: Gather Ingredients
10 pounds tomatoes, preferably Roma, peeled, cored, and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup tomato paste
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon kosher or canning salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
Step 2: Prepare Sauce
If you want to boil the tomatoes to peel them, score an x in the bottom of each tomato, boil no more than 6 at a time, just until the skins loosen, 15 to 60 seconds. Using slotted spoon, transfer tomatoes to ice bath to cool, 2 minutes. Peel tomatoes, then move on to the next batch.
Instead of doing all that, I find a serrated peeler does a fine job of peeling tomatoes. Use a serrated grapefruit spoon, or a paring knife, to core the tomatoes, then chop them into pieces.
The recipe instructed to add the rest of the ingredients (except for the vinegar) after blending, but I actually preferred to add them into each batch I blended, to simplify things. Simply measure out all the ingredients and add a portion with each batch you blend.
Working in batches, process tomatoes (and rest of the ingredients except for vinegar) in blender until almost smooth, 10 to 15 seconds, transfer to a large Dutch oven. (If you didn't blend in the garlic, tomato paste, basil, salt, and sugar stir it in now.)
Step 3: Cook Tomato Sauce
Bring the sauce to boil over medium-high heat.
Boil, stirring often and reducing heat as needed (the sauce may start to splatter as it thickens, reduce the heat to ensure you don't coat your kitchen!), until sauce has thickened and measures slightly more than 2 quarts, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. A good way to know how much that is, before you begin cooking, pour about 8.5 cups of water in the pot and make note of the level it fills the pan to.
While the sauce cooks, prepare your canning pot by filling it with water and adding four 1-pint jars, ensuring the jars are covered by at least one inch of water. Bring to simmer over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to keep the water hot.
Step 4: Can Tomato Sauce
Place dish towel flat on counter. Using jar lifter, remove jars from pot, draining water back into pot. Place jars upside down on towel and let dry for one minute. Add 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar to each hot jar. Using funnel and ladle, portion hot sauce into jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Slide wooden skewer along inside of jar to remove air bubbles and add more sauce as needed.
For short term storage: Let jars cool to room temperature. Cover, refrigerate, and serve. Sauce can be refrigerated for up to one month.
For long term storage: While jars are hot, wipe rims clean, add lids, and screw on rings until fingertip-tight. Return canning pot water to full boil. Lower jars into the water, cover, bring water back to boiling, then start timer. Adjust heat and boil 35 minutes for altitude up to 1,000 feet, adding 5 minutes for elevation 1,001 to 3,000, 45 minutes boiling for 3,001 to 6,000 feet, or 50 minutes for 6,001 to 8,000 feet.
Turn off the heat, remove pot lid, and let jars sit in the pot for 5 minutes. Remove jars to a cooling rack, or kitchen towel lined countertop, and let cool for 24 hours. Remove rings, check seals, and clean rims. Label and store in a cool, dark, environment for up to one year.