One of the most used canned food item in our home is tomato sauce. I tend to can plain tomato sauce, then I can turn it into spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce, enchilada sauce, tomato soup, etc as I need it.
Here is the easiest method I’ve found, for home canning tomatoes:
Gather tomatoes, in large quantity. I bought from the Amish produce auction to supplement what I grew this year. For sauce, I use mainly Roma tomatoes. To add flavor, I also threw in some of the cherry and beefsteak tomatoes we grew.
I have made sauce both by peeling and not peeling. The yield from non-peeled tomatoes was greater. It also takes time to peel tomatoes, so not only will you save time, you’ll also end up with more canned goodness by not peeling!
To begin, wash the tomatoes in cold water. Add a bit of water to the bottom of the large roaster oven, then cut tomatoes into quarters and place inside. Cover the roaster, turn to 250-300*, place the lid on, and let cook until softened. Stir occasionally. They should be softened in 2-3 hours.
Pour the sauce back into the cleaned out roaster oven. Let cook, uncovered, at 350* until cooked to your desired thickness. I let mine cook about 3 hours.
When the time to can is near, wash the jars in hot, soapy water. Then fill the sink and let the jars sit in hot water. (Or, you can place them in water in a large stock pot over medium heat, or you can run them through the dishwasher). Place lids and rings in a pot, let them warm over medium-low heat. Also fill your water bath canner with water, and start heating it up.
Tomatoes can be preserved by either pressure canning or water bath canning. The current recommendation from the NCHFP (National Center for Home Food Preservation) is to add lemon juice to the tomato sauce prior to water bath canning. This is due to lower levels of pH in the tomatoes grown today. It doesn’t affect the taste, but can prevent icky things like botulism.
I prefer to water bath can the tomato sauce to save on time.
Once you have filled the hot jars with tomato sauce, add 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice per pint or 2 Tablespoons per quart. I mix this in using the bubble remover tool. You can use a bamboo stick, straw, or any non-metallic object.
Wipe the rims of the jars well.
Pull a lid out of the warm water using a magnetic lid lifter, then add lids and bands to the jars. Tighten bands to finger tight.
Using a jar lifter, add jars to rack in water bath canner. Once full, cover with lid, and wait for it to come to a full, rolling boil. Once boiling, process pints for 35 minutes, and quarts for 40 minutes, adjusting for your altitude.
Leave the jars in the canner for 30 minutes or so. Carefully lift the jars with a jar lifter, taking care not to turn the jar to the side (leaving it upright), and set on a cooling rack or towel lined tray. Let sit, with bands in place, until completely cool, usually overnight. Test the seal by pushing down on the lid, if it pops up, it is not sealed. If not sealed, place in refrigerator. Once cooled, remove bands, label, and store.
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