Thursday, August 18, 2011

How To Can Marinara Sauce Using Fresh Tomatoes

Sometimes August feels like December for me, it's because I usually spend the bulk of it in my kitchen getting ready for the winter.  I like to make sure I have enough jars of Marinara Sauce and jarred tomatoes on hand to get me through till next year.

My apologies for not visiting all of you as often, between the tomato fest, 5 varieties of jam I made and packing my daughter for college; I'm pretty sure I haven't sat down in the last 3 weeks. We are moving her this weekend and as sad as I am about her leaving, I kind of miss having a little bit of time for other things.  

Just how much sauce is enough to get through the winter you might be wondering?  Well for my household; I canned a dozen quarts and seven quarts of whole tomatoes.  I think that should do it.  

I made one batch with mixed heirloom tomatoes from my local farm stand.  I like to mix the varieties, some are sweeter and some are lower in acid.

The second batch I made with my favorites San Marzano tomatoes.  These tomatoes have less seeds a nice thin skin and produce a thicker richer sauce.  My favorite place to buy these is a family farm called Smith Family Farm, it's a fun place to bring the kids too.

You are going to want to make your sauce first, then I will show you how to can the jars:

Marinara Sauce
20 lbs. whole San Marzano tomatoes or Mixed Heirloom tomatoes
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 large yellow onions
2 carrots, peeled and finely shredded
6-8 large cloves of garlic, minced
2 or 3 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
1 tbsp. dried Italian seasoning
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
Freshly ground black pepper

1)  You will need to skin the tomatoes first, I prefer the roasting method since I do such large quantities.  I will wash and cut all the tomatoes in half and lay them cut side down, single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silpat mat.  Bake in a 425 degree F oven for 10 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes or so.

2)  Grab a large bowl and place a sieve over the top, grab each tomato and the skin should pull right off.  Keep a plate right next to the bowl for the discarded skins.  Squeeze the tomato over the sieve to remove the seeds and place the tomato pulp in the bowl.  

My super secret tip:  I use rubber gloves while doing this, it eliminates me going around with stained hands.

3)  Chop the onions and grate the carrots and mince the garlic.  Place the olive oil in a large stockpot (at least 8 quarts) and heat on medium high.  Add the onions and carrots and let cook but not brown about 10 minutes.  Turn the heat down if necessary.  Add the garlic and cook five more minutes.

4)  Add the tomatoes and the juice from them.  Add the dried Italian seasoning and salt and pepper.  I will use a minimum of a tablespoon of salt and keep adding it till I'm happy with the taste.

3)  Bring to a boil, turn heat down to simmer and cook for 2 1/2 to 3 hours.  I like to keep going back and stirring and tasting to see if there is enough salt.  I will add the tomato paste after an hour or so if the sauce isn't thickening enough.  Add the basil in the last 30 minutes or so.  I will add a tablespoon of sugar or two at the end if my sauce still has that acidic tang.  You can break up the tomatoes with a spoon, but sometimes I will run an immersion blender at the end if the sauce isn't as smooth as I'd like it. Chunky sauce is fine too.

4)  Once the sauce is finished you are ready to can.  I will start the canning water about 30 minutes before the sauce is finished to ensure it is boiling.  If you don't want to can, the sauce will freeze well too.  I always forget to defrost the container; so canning works better for me.

Makes 6 quarts of sauce.  (Plus a little left over for sampling).

Label the jars and be sure to use them within one year.

Here is the link to the canning process, hope you get in your kitchen and go make some sauce; winter will be here before you know it.




  1. gina,
    Your sauce is gorgeous, and all that work. I'm sure that it is well worth, when you open your first jar. Thank you for the tutorial. Did you get a shirt that said, "I survived Tomato Fest?"

  2. No jar or can sauce can compare to homemade and this looks beautiful!

  3. You go, girl!!! This looks fabulous, Gina!!!

  4. You are my idol Gina;-) these jars of marinara sauce look wonderful!

  5. Wow looks good and so fresh jars of marinara sauce.

  6. I love homemade sauce! And I can’t believe you made enough for the winter! I just made 3 jars of pasta sauce and I thought that was a lot already =)

    Did you make a care package with all kinds of jummy stuff for your daughter?

  7. I bet my husband would LOVE me to do this. I'll have to give it a try!

    Good luck on the move :) Buzzed!

  8. Look at all of those fresh tomatoes! I bet that sauce is amazing all year long!

  9. Gina, you are amazing! I don't know how you get everything done? You must never sleep! The sauce looks great!

  10. Love marinara sauce too. This recipe is for sure a keeper.

  11. Beautiful colors. Beautiful photos. Beautiful food! I am up to my elbows in tomatoes right now, but I haven't canned much lately! You have inspired me!
    BTW Gina - Do you have a great tortilla soup recipe? I really need one!! Thanks!

  12. Gina, you're the canning queen too! I love that top photo, the jarred sauces really draw the reader in... Plus, I suddenly have the urge to swim in a bathtub of fresh marinara sauce (hope the vision hasn't put you off your winter stocks). Thanks for sharing the recipe and technique, I'll bookmark this for when my kids (finally) leave home and I'll have all the time in the world to be a queen like you. :-)

  13. Wow, Gina-Deja Vu! If I'm not mistaken this is how I met you exactly one year ago. You posted a huge box of Roma tomatoes...can't recall the Marinara sauce.
    Your marinara sauce is gorgeous, and so perfect. Daughter Lora has been canning tomatoes on a regular basis since last year, as well. There is no substitute for fresh tomato sauce...You go girl!!!
    Thank you for your kind concern, I'm starting to get the use of my arm back slowli, after several days, at least I can use my hand, fully...couldn't even grip anything weird!
    Take care, have a wonderful Sunday, and don't worry about the 7 Links, although I would have loved to see your beautiful roundup of your best!

  14. Can you believe I've never made my own marinara sauce?!? Clearly, this needs to change. I love the idea of making a big batch and canning it. It somehow lessens the work I always envision accompanying homemade sauce. I hope moving your daughter in this weekend went smoothly. Sending you an extra hug tonight, as I know it couldn't have been easy on you!

  15. Gina you did real good! I aslo make my won tomato sauce but I have to wait for September. Love the idea of roasteing those tomatoes; weiil try it thisn year; thank you.

  16. WOW! This is a bible for canning marinara sauce!!! I've never tried it but one day I will and want to. It's a great gift to friends and I think I'll appreciate them in non-tomato season. What a great post! Definitely bookmakred for refrence.

  17. Is it really necessary to skin the tomatoes?...reason?

    1. I have always made it without skins and seeds, in my opinion it produces a smoother sauce and the seeds can impart a bitterness. I have heard others have good results with their sauce without taking this step. This is just my families preferred version. Hope that helps. San Marzanos have a thin skin and break down easier than some of the other tomatoes, usually the later you go in the season the thicker the skin becomes.


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