I totally lucked out and got 15 pounds of end-of-season organic tomatoes last week. My daughter was thrilled when she saw them because she knew exactly what that meant….homemade marinara sauce.
A note: end-of-season tomatoes don’t look as smooth and lovely as mid-season tomatoes. This is because they expand and contract due to the cold night time temperatures and the warmer day time temperatures. Don’t be put off by the wrinkly skin – what’s inside is rich and delicious. See the picture below:
Here is the step by step, with photos, for making and canning your own Italian marinara sauce. It’s easy, healthy, and delicious, and a great way to make use of a bounty of tomatoes. Homemade marinara sauce is a world away from the stuff you buy in the grocery store. It’s loaded with vitamins and nutrients, and not tainted by BPA, additives, and high fructose corn syrup. Don’t be put off by the hands-on time needed to make this. Consider that if you made 14 from-scratch spaghetti dinners, it would take you far more time than the six hours that these two batches of sauce took.
Approximately 1 pound of tomatoes makes 1 quart jar of sauce. The following instructions are for a canner load full of sauce or 7 quarts.
Prep the tomatoes
First, you have to peel your tomatoes. My tomatoes are organic, so I didn’t have to worry about any nasty pesticide residue. The easiest way to peel tomatoes is to take them from boiling water to an ice bath and then squeeze the guts out of them, as follows.
First, put water on to boil in a large stock pot. You don’t need to wash or cut the tomatoes before blanching them. In batches, place the tomatoes into the boiling water for about 3 minutes. (This time is not engraved in stone – don’t panic if you go over the time by a little bit.)
After you scoop the tomatoes out of the boiling water, place them directly into an ice bath and leave them there for at least 3 minutes.
Once the tomatoes are cool enough to easily handle, use your fingers to dig the stem end out of the tomato and discard it. Then, squeeze the tomato over your blender – the skin should slide right off and leave you with a blender full of pulp. You don’t need to remove the seeds. Process in the blender for about 30 seconds, resulting in a nice slightly chunky puree.
Add the tomatoes and veggies to a large stockpot. Then add the following seasonings – the first amount is per pound of tomatoes, and the second amount is for a 7 quart batch of sauce.
1 tbsp – sugar – 1/3 cup
1 tsp – sea salt – 2 and 1/2 tbsp
1 tsp – thyme – 2 and 1/2 tbsp
1 tbsp – oregano – 1/3 cup
1 tbsp – basil – 1/3 cup
1 pinch – powdered clove (trust me!) – 1 tbsp
black pepper to taste
1 pinch – paprika (smoked Hungarian if you can find it) – 1 tbsp
2 tbsp – extra virgin olive oil – 2/3 cup
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With the lid on, bring the sauce to a simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally. Then, remove the lid, drop the heat and simmer gently for 3 more hours. The lid being off will allow the liquid to evaporate so that the sauce can cook down and thicken.
When it’s time to can the sauce, don’t worry if the consistency is still a little bit watery. Over its time on the shelf, it will thicken somewhat. If at serving time it is still runnier than you prefer, simply stir in a small tin of tomato paste to thicken it.
- Fill sanitized quart jars with sauce, allowing 1 inch of headspace.
- Wipe the lip of your jars with a cloth dipped in white vinegar and then place the lids on.
- Process the sauce in your pressure canner for 25 minutes at 7 pounds of pressure, adjusting for altitude.
- Allow the jars to cool undisturbed for at least 12 hours or until cooled. Test the seals before putting them away.
Now you have many quarts of delicious, authentic Italian marinara sauce to serve at many meals to come. You can use this to make spaghetti and meatballs, chicken parmesan, as the base of an Italian vegetable soup, or you can thicken it to use as a pizza sauce.