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Canning your own tomato sauce is a great way to preserve and enjoy those delicious tomatoes from your garden all winter.

Not only is it a budget-friendly way to stock your pantry, but you also get to control the ingredients and adjust the seasonings to suit your own taste.

With this tomato sauce, you can add it to your favorite soup, chili, salsa or spaghetti recipe.

Here’s a step by step guide to canning tomato sauce, complete with tips and tricks for success.

Canning Tomato Sauce


You’ll need:

  • about 35 pounds of ripe paste tomatoes
  • a large stockpot
  • a food mill, blender, or immersion blender (see step 3)
  • Canning jars (we prefer pint jars for this purpose; you’ll need about 6-8 depending on how thick your sauce is at the end)
  • lids and rings
  • a boiling water canner
  • lemon juice
  • salt

Step 1 – Clean the Tomatoes

Start by washing your tomatoes and removing any blemishes or bad spots. Then, cut out the cores and quarter the tomatoes.

Step 2: Cook the Tomatoes

making tomato sauce

Now it’s time to cook those tomatoes down into sauce. Add the quartered tomatoes to your stockpot and bring them to a boil over medium-high heat. Turn down the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Step 3: Puree the Sauce

tomato sauce in blender scaled

Once the tomatoes have broken down and you see the skins and seeds separate, it’s time to turn them into a more cohesive sauce.

You have two options here: you can run the cooked tomatoes through a food mill to separate the skins and seeds (and compost them), or you can use a blender or immersion blender to blend the seeds and skins right into your sauce.

The first option will remove the seeds and skins entirely and create a smooth but thinner sauce (that you can cook down to thicken). The second option will make a thicker sauce, but you may see seeds and chunks here and there. This is a matter of preference!

Step 4: Reduce to Desired Consistency

Once you’ve pureed your sauce, simmer it over low heat, stirring occasionally until it reaches the desired consistency.

Depending on how thick or thin you like your tomato sauce, this could take anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours. If you want to use your sauce for pizza, we recommend a longer simmer for a thicker sauce.

Step 5: Sterilize your Jars

While your sauce is simmering, prepare your water bath canner. Fill it just about halfway with water, then set it on the stove to come to a boil. Sterilize your canning jars by running them through a dishwasher or boiling them for 10 minutes. You can also set them on the canning rack upside down and boil the water in your canner to steam them for at least 10 minutes.

Step 6: Fill Jars With Sauce

tomato sauce in jar

Now it’s time to fill your jar with tomato sauce! Make sure your jars and lids are clean, then put lemon juice and salt in the bottom of each jar. For pint jars, you’ll use 1 tbsp lemon juice and 1/2 tsp salt. Then carefully ladle the sauce into the jars (using a canning funnel if you have one), leaving about Ā½ an inch of headspace.

Step 7: Cap the Jar

home canned tomato sauce

Wipe the rims of the jars clean with a damp cloth, then place the lids on top and screw on the rings until they’re just finger-tight.

Step 8: Process in a Boiling Water Canner

Place the jars in your canner on a canning rack, then carefully lower the jars into the boiling water canner, making sure they’re covered by at least 1 inch of water. Cover the canner and bring the water back up to a boil. Process for 35 minutes (start the timer once the water is boiling).

Step 9: Let Cool

Remove your canner from the hot burner and allow it to cool for 5 minutes before lifting the rack and removing the jars. Allow your jars of sauce to cool undisturbed for 12-24 hours before checking the seals (the button on top of the lid should be depressed).

Step 10: Store the Jar

Any unsealed jars should be refrigerated and used within two weeks. Seal the jar and store it on a cool, dark shelf for up to 1 year. Be sure to label them with the date before storing them away!

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Carrie Williams Howe is an educational leader by day and an aspiring homesteader by night and weekend. She lives on a small homestead in Vermont with her husband, two children, and a rambunctious border collie. She blogs about her family's homestead life at The Happy Hive.

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