In August and September, when tomatoes are at their ripest, make a batch of fresh tomato sauce. At the market, look for the cracked, slightly bruised tomatoes sold at a discount. The flesh of the tomato should be dense, sweet and blood red. This makes a very fresh- and bright-tasting sauce in a manageable small batch. Take advantage of good tasty tomatoes and fill a few zip-top bags for the freezer
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Tomatoes (about 5 to 6 pounds for every quart of sauce that you want to make)
- Chopped onions (1 medium onion per 1 quart of sauce)
- Minced garlic (1 to 1 1/2 cloves per quart)
- Olive oil
- Dried basil (1/2 teaspoon per 1 quart)
- Dried Oregano (1/2 teaspoon per 1 quart)
You May Also Want to Add
- A pinch of sugar, if needed
- Additional spices
You can use any type of tomato to make tomato sauce, but your sauce will come together faster and easier if you use paste tomatoes. They have less water content and fewer seeds. But there are other types of tomatoes you can use.
Blanch the Tomatoes
Start by plunging your tomatoes into boiling water for 1 to 2 minutes. This will loosen their skins, so they’re much easier to remove later. Then, rinse the tomatoes in cool water to stop the cooking process, and set them aside to cool and drain.
Remove the Skins, Stems, and Seeds
Once the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, remove their skins, and cut out the spot where the stems used to attach to the tomatoes (this is referred to as coring the tomatoes). Then, slice the tomatoes in half, and scoop out the seeds. Don’t worry if you miss some. A few left behind won’t hurt.
Saute the Onion and Garlic
Add about a 1/4 cup of olive oil to a large pot. Then, saute the onions and garlic until they’re soft (a few minutes should do it).
If you’d like to add carrots or peppers to your sauce, saute them along with the onions and garlic.
Combine All the Ingredients and Cook
Add the tomatoes and all of the remaining ingredients to your onion-garlic mixture, and bring the pot to a boil. Then, reduce the heat, and simmer uncovered until the sauce reaches your desired thickness. Stir frequently to keep the sauce from burning. This will take at least 2 to 3 hours but could take longer if there’s a lot of water in your tomatoes (non-paste tomatoes tend to have more water content, but so do tomatoes grown during rainy years).
Jar Your Sauce
Pour your finished sauce into jars. Use freezer jars if you want to freeze your sauce or canning jars if you’d like to can your sauce for shelf-stable storage.
Note: To safely water-bath can tomato sauce, you must add lemon juice to boost the acidity. Tomatoes aren’t as acidic as they used to be. Refer to the National Center for Home Food Preservation’s guidelines for complete tomato canning instructions and times.