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Homemade canned tomatoes

Homemade canned tomato sauce


  • One or more yellow onion, diced
  • 6 or so cloves of garlic, peeled, crushed and rough chopped
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Washed and stemmed fresh Roma or San Marzano tomatoes
  • Several big sprigs of basil, leaves removed from stems and discard stems
  • 5 or 10 sprigs of thyme


  1. In a large heavy bottom pot big enough to hold the tomatoes, place on medium heat and drizzle in several teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil. Let the oil warm and then add the onions. Sprinkle a little salt on the onions and then cover to let them “sweat”. Stir occasionally.
  2. After the onions have softened, add the garlic and let it slightly brown.
  3. Add all the tomatoes to the pot (you can chop them up before you put them, but there’s really no need)
  4. Add the basil and thyme.
  5. Give the whole pot a big tumbling toss with a wooden spoon and cover. The tomatoes with start to breakdown immediately and should be completely broken down in about 30 to 45 minutes. You can help the process along by smashing tomatoes to the side of the pot with a wooden spoon.
  6. Let the mixture cool somewhat so it’s easier to handle. Pick out the thyme stems but don’t worry if you miss some, you’ll catch them in the food mill.
  7. Set up a food mill over another pot and ladle in the cooked tomatoes. Starting cranking the food mill to get all the moisture out so you are just left with skins and seeds. Scrape off the pulp from the bottom of the food mill into the pot. Repeat until you’ve milled all the tomatoes.
  8. Now sterilize the Ball jars and lids. You can do this either by running them through your dishwasher with very little soap or in a big pot of boiling water. Be careful not to touch the inside of the jars or lids at this point.
  9. Using a measuring cup or ladle fill each jar to about a ½-inch below the rim with tomato sauce. Put the rubber ringed lid on the jar and the lightly screw the ring lid on – don’t tighten it.
  10. Now place the jars in another heavy bottom pot (depending on the number of jars, you may have to do this in batches. Add water around the jar until it reaches about middle of the ring lid.
  11. Now this is the part when you should be very careful. You can easily burn yourself. Bring the water to a boil. Once it boils, “process” the sauce for 30 minutes (you might have to add more water along if the water level lowers.
  12. Using a canning lifter, remove the jars to a tray. In less then a minute, you should hear the lids “pop” as the vacuum in the jar is formed. You’ll know this worked when divot in the center rubber ringed inverts downward. If after 5 minutes, you don’t hear the “pop”, let the jars cool to the point you can handle them  and remove the rubber rimmed lid. Make sure there is a 1/2-inch of space between the liquid and the rim and clean the jar rim and rubber rimmed lid to remove any sauce. Reseal and re-process for 30 minutes.
  13. Tighten the ring lid. Let the jars cool completely and store away in your cabinet or pantry for future use.


Special equipment:

  • Ball jars (I use wide mouth 1-pint size)
  • Canning lifter
  • “Food mill” with a small holed disk