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How To Make Homemade Tomato Sauce

pasta with homemade tomato sauce

This is the time of year where you see all the Italians sitting in their garage making homemade tomato sauce. Ever wonder what their secrets are? I’m about to give you a step by step guide, with photos. The secret is out! šŸ™‚

End of August, or early September is always tomato sauce season for my family. Growing up in an Italian household means being spoiled with the most amazing homemade tomato sauce all year round. The process to make homemade tomato sauce is a tradition that I remember doing every single year around the end of summer. For us, this is a normal part of the year, no different than celebrating birthdays or Thanksgiving! We always try to make enough to last us the entire year, until we make another batch the following year. That means, the entire family gets together so we can have all hands on deck.

Today we made 8 bushels, which is actually a little light for us compared to most years. We may have to make more next weekend! I’ve broken down the steps with photos below. Feel free to make as much, or as little as you’d like. The recipe at the very bottom is for 1 bushel of tomatoes, to make it simple enough for a beginner. šŸ™‚

Before beginning, get everything prepared.

Any baskets, bushels, mason jars and lids, food mill or Italian tomato press, etc. Prepare your onions, garlic and basil as well. Peel and cut them so they are ready to go.

onions, garlic, basil prep for homemade tomato sauce

Then of course, wash your tomatoes. We use a giant tub to wash ours since we make large quantities, but of course, you can also do this in your kitchen sink!

washing tomatos in large tub

Once you’ve washed all your tomatoes, you will need to cut each one in half. The reason for this is to check for any rotten ones, or bad spots. Although the tomatoes may feel firm on the outside, it’s possible to have a few bad ones. You don’t want to throw even one bad tomato into your sauce, as it may ruin the entire batch.

slicing tomatoes

bushels and baskets of tomatoes

While you’re cutting the tomatoes, bring a large pot of water to boil. We use industrial sized pots with propane burners outside. You may also do this with a large stock pot on the stove top if you’re making a smaller amount. Or you may work in batches. Add the tomatoes to the boiling water and give them a stir. (Yup, that’s me below stirring the cauldron, haha.)

stirring large pot of tomatos

The cold tomatoes will likely cause the water to stop boiling. However, once it returns to a boil, that is usually when it’s time to remove the tomatoes, and drain them. You should look for the water to start foaming on top with an orange film from the tomatoes, as shown in the pic below. You do NOT want to overcook the tomatoes, or you will be wasting/losing precious sauce.

cooking tomatoes for homemade tomato sauce

Next, you will drain the tomatoes until mostly drained. You do not need to over drain since the water will have absorbed a lot of the tomato goodness!

draining tomatoes for homemade tomato sauce

draining tomatoes

Now it’s time to turn your tomatoes into sauce!

We use an industrial, motorized Italian tomato press that separates the skin and seeds from the tomato. It discards the skin and seeds and pours the sauce out. You will need two separate containers/buckets. One to collect the saucy goodness, and another to collect the seeds/skins to be disposed. If you’re making a smaller batch, a food mill will work just as well!

making homemade tomato sauce

Once all the tomatoes have been crushed into sauce, heat the olive oil, with the chopped onions, garlic and bay leaves in a large sauce pot.

homeade tomato sauce prep

Then pour your sauce into the pot to get it cooked. Make sure to stir often.

homemade tomato sauce cooking

Once the sauce is fully cooked, you will fill your mason jars and seal tightly. We use Bernardin snap lids, and buy new lids each year to ensure proper sealing. (You may reuse the jars, but use new snap lids each time to make sure you get a proper seal.) TIP: Use gloves to handle the jars and seal tightly. They will be very hot to handle when filling with the hot sauce.

pouring homemade tomato sauce into mason jars

Next, we boil the jars in order to get a proper seal that will help them keep for the year. Cover the jars with water and boil for 5 minutes, then turn off the heat. Once cooled down enough to touch, store your delicious tomato sauce until ready for use!

homemade tomato sauce jarred

homemade tomato sauce jarred

The reward after a hard day’s work!

My favourite part of the tradition is enjoying a fresh plate of pasta with the newly homemade tomato sauce! YUM.

pasta plated with homemade tomato sauce, cheese, basil and hot peppers

Need more ideas on how to use this homemade tomato sauce? Try it in these sloppy joe’s, on polenta pizza, lentil pizza (or ANY pizza!), or this turkey chili, or hearty bolognese sauce.

pasta with homemade tomato sauce

How To Make Homemade Tomato Sauce

Course: How To
Cuisine: Italian
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 1 hour
Servings: 14 Litres
Have you ever wondered about the Italian secrets to making homemade tomato sauce? The secret with step by step photo instructions is out!
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Ingredients

  • 1 bushel roma tomatoes washed
  • 1.5 cups olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion peeled & cut in half
  • 1 red onion peeled & cut in half
  • 6-8 cloves garlic peeled
  • 3-4 bay leaves
  • 2 tbsp salt or to taste
  • 10-12 fresh basil leaves

Instructions

  • Using a food processor, process your onions and garlic until finely chopped, but not pureed. Set aside.
  • Slice each tomato in half, looking for any bad spots as you cut into them. (You do not want to use any rotten tomatoes, as this may ruin the batch of sauce.)
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the cut tomatoes. The cold tomatoes will likely cause the water to stop boiling. Once it returns to a low boil, drain the tomatoes immediately. Do NOT overcook the tomatoes in this step. Drain them once the water starts boiling, and/or once you see that the water is foaming orange on top. (See pic for reference.)
    cooking tomatoes
  • Heat the olive oil with the onions, garlic and bay leaves and cook for about 5 minutes, until onions and garlic are slightly golden. Watch carefully not to burn. Add the sauce to the pot and bring to a low boil. Cook for 1 hour, adding the basil after about 30 minutes. Stir very often! You do not want any sauce to burn at the bottom of the pot, or you may spoil the entire batch. Taste for salt, and adjust if desired.
  • Carefully fill and tightly seal your mason jars using Bernardin snap lids.
  • Heat a couple inches of water in a large pot and place the sealed jars into your pot once heated. Do not add the jars to cold water! The jars are very hot, and adding them to a pot of cold water may cause them to explode. Once the jars have all been placed in the pot, slowly fill with enough water to cover all the jars and bring to a boil for at least 5 minutes, then turn off the heat. Once the water and jars are cooled enough to handle, (we usually leave them overnight) remove from the pot and store in a cold room/cellar or refrigerator for up to one year.
Serving: 1Cup | Calories: 35kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 1g | Sodium: 244mg | Potassium: 380mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 26.3% | Vitamin C: 26.6% | Calcium: 1.7% | Iron: 2.5%
DID YOU TRY THIS RECIPE?Mention @this.healthy.kitchen on IG and tag #thishealthykitchen!
*Nutritional information is an estimate, calculated using online tools.

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