Monday, August 22, 2011

Super Easy Basic Tomato Sauce

Ball Blue Book Guide to PreservingLast year, I made the tomato sauce in an older edition of the book Stocking Up.  We were not all that happy with it though.  It was a pain to make, didn't thicken up really well, and it gave my husband heartburn.

This year, I decided to learn how to can right (I'm actually a little amazed we survived the year with all the things I did wrong last year and, no, I don't want to talk about it).  I received the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving for Christmas and it is a-maz-ing!  Among the many, many, many treasures I've already discovered is a super, simple, basic tomato sauce that only contains one ingredient if you eat it fresh (tomatoes) and two if you can it (tomatoes and lemon juice).  Perfect!  Whenever I use tomato sauce, I end up seasoning it anyway, so I don't really need it to be seasoned in the jar and would rather it be untainted until I'm ready to mold it into the favor I desire.

So I did what I do with all recipes I use:  I changed it.  Yeah, I know I called it perfect before, but I decided it could be perfecter (yes, I know that is not grammatically correct.  Sometimes I like to throw in made up words for a touch of whimsy.  I do it when speaking as well because I find it amusing.  I try to write exactly like I talk as much as possible so people recognize me when they meet me in real life.  Well, I guess I do swear more in real life...).  Here is my new and improved  super easy basic tomato sauce:

Super Easy Basic Tomato Sauce
lemon juice (if canning)

Core and cut off the blossom ends of the tomatoes.  Quarter and stick into a large pot (how large will depend on how many tomatoes you are doin' up).  Simmer for about 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and puree in a food processor or blender.  Return to pan and simmer until it reaches about half of its original volume.  Remove from heat and strain briefly (don't force it.  Just dump the stuff in a strainer and let it piddle out for a minute or so).  Return thicken sauce to pan and combine with about half of the juice that was just strained out.  Freeze the remaining juice in an ice cube tray (bag up in freezer bags once frozen) for use in flavoring sauces and stews.  Let sauce simmer until ready to can or package immediately for freezing.  

If canning, add 1 tbsp of lemon juice per pint of sauce.  Process in a water bath canner, pints for 35 minutes, quart for 40.

If you don't know how to can, take a class, learn from someone that's been doing it for umpteen trillion years without killing off anyone from food poisoning, or get the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving.  Seriously.


  1. The Ball canning books are so helpful.Really they only cost about $6.00,so it's worth the investment to prevent your family and friends from eating bad food. :)
    (Deleted my first comment due to spelling

  2. I find the Ball book to be very useful, but I also haunt the internet for good recipes, and also make up my own. There's a GREAT book called "Putting Food By" which I need to get another copy of (the ex got ours), which lists out the canning times for many different foods, and how that canning time changes depending on what foods you mix together. It is, imo, invaluable. It let me take my own spaghetti sauce recipe, which I've perfected over years of practice, and can it for use later in the year.

    As a funny note, I take the skins off my tomatoes before making sauce or stewed tomatoes (something we use a LOT of), and then when I make the sauce for eating I add tomato paste. By leaving the skins on, you are leaving the natural thickening agents in your sauce. :)

  3. Some considerations:
    1) ultimate goal is to avoid botulism a potentially deadly food borne illness as well as other types of food-borne illness
    2) Canning times vary according to the altitude at which products are canned. Read that part of the Ball Blue Book, near the beginning, not just the recipe. The USDA guide (which is on-line, has excellent recipes with the times printed alongside each recipe.
    3) Recipes in the Ball Blue Book and USDA guide to complete home canning are tested for safety.
    4) Making up your own recipe or changing recipes including making recipes thicker, adds risk. The recipes are tested for heat penetration and holding of prescribed high temperature for a specific time period at the internal center of the product in the jar.
    5) The risk associated with botulism is like Russian roulette. You have more chances of being safe, but if not, you risk paralysis and death.
    6) You don't need to be scared to can, but you do need to educate yourself to the best of your ability.

  4. idahomiss, thank you for sharing your concerns. I guess I never gave the altitude thing any thought because I've always lived at a low enough altitude that it doesn't matter. On this particular recipe, I don't think it actually ends up being any thicker than the Ball folks would have anticipated since my tomatoes always seem extra juicy and I'm sure they figured for a variety of juiciness of tomatoes, including ones that would produce a much thicker sauces without straining out liquid. I will definitely keep your warnings in mind before trying to develop any other recipes for canning though.