I’m not a total stranger to canning, since my mom and grandma used to can pickles and jams in the summer when I was a kid. So, when my mom needed to figure out something to do with the pounds upon pounds of tomatoes coming from her community garden I decided I would try my hand at making and canning fresh tomato sauce.
Since this was my first time making tomato sauce from scratch I went with a simple “recipe” for the sauce itself. It really wasn’t a recipe at all… it is just pureed tomatoes cooked down to the consistency desired. I used the instructions from The Kitchn for the sauce, and instructions from the Ball Jar website for canning.
I began with a little over 50 pounds of tomatoes from my mom’s garden. I actually have no idea what all the varieties are. There were some huge heirloom tomatoes along with many smaller grape and cherry tomatoes. Everybody in the pool!
The first step was to set up an assembly line for blanching and peeling the tomatoes. My BFF Katie generously (perhaps foolishly) volunteered her house for this project as she has much better lighting for photos. Peeling tomatoes may sound like a daunting task, but it’s actually pretty easy if not a little time consuming.
I cored each tomato with this shark paring knife which made the job much more pleasant.
Then cut an X shape on the bottom.
Drop the cored and scored tomatoes 4-5 at a time into a pot of boiling water for 30-60 seconds.
Then transfer to a bowl of ice water until they’re cool enough to handle.
Once they’re cooled off a bit, you can peel the skins right off by hand.
When all the larger tomatoes were peeled, I gave them a rough chop.
The smaller tomatoes we halved or quartered and threw them into the mix peels and all.
I filled my pot with a mixture of peeled and unpeeled tomatoes, then took my stick blender to it. It made quick work of any peels and seeds and turned our tomatoes into a big pot of thick tomato juice. Also, I am wearing a pug face shirt and a cat breed apron. Fashion.
Your 4-legged friends may not appreciate the stick blender.
As you can see, I underestimated how much sauce my tomatoes would produce. Not only did we need two overflow pots, I had to wait for these pots to cook down a while to get more room so I could add additional tomatoes and puree them in.
Two hours in we’re making some progress. The big pot on the right took about another 2 hours after this.
Once it was sufficiently thickened, I started pouring it into my sterilized canning jars. Again, for these steps I followed the directions from the Ball website.
While the larger pot of sauce finished cooking, I started heating up the giant canning pot.
The first batch of sauce went into the water bath and I crossed my fingers that everything would go smoothly. I am pretty sure there is little to no chance of the jars exploding during this process but that was my fear for some reason.
After a steamy 40 minutes it was time to use my jar grabber to remove the processed sauce.
Then I used my jar grabber to taunt Sammy.
After two rounds of processing, we ended up with 5 pints and 9 quarts of fresh tomato sauce. The entire process took about 8 hours and was pretty exhausting albeit rewarding. Even though it was a long process, it wasn’t particularly difficult. So, grab a friend and make some sauce!