How to Can Tomato Sauce and Save Money on Food

It is not difficult to learn how to can tomato sauce and save money on food, but it is time consuming. You should plan on most of a day to do a batch. Depending on how many cans of sauce your family uses in a year, you may need to do this more than once! I have to set aside about 3 days during the tomato season (not all at once!) to put up enough for our family of six. We use tomato sauce for so many different things that we need about 40-50 pints of sauce to get from one season to the next.

Supplies you will need are: 25-50 pounds of tomatoes, a bottle of lemon juice, or citric acid, a dozen or two pint size canning jars with flats & rings, a large kettle or stock pot, a medium kettle, a small kettle, a Foley Food Mill or some other device to press the pulp through to remove seeds and skins, a blender, a water-bath canner, a wide-mouth funnel, and a ladle.

If you already have some jars, check to see that there are no chips. It is easy to check by just running your finger around the rim of the jar.

If you feel any roughness, the jar probably won’t seal. You can sometimes re-use canning flats. Check to see that the rubber seal is intact and doesn’t look thin in any spots. It is safest, however, to use new flats. You may re-use the rings many times until they begin to rust and are too difficult to tighten. If you cannot tighten them on the jar, the jar will not seal properly.

OK, let's learn how to can tomato sauce with these 8 easy steps. Be sure to read over them and understand each step before beginning.

  1. When learning how to can tomato sauce, start by washing, coring, and quartering the tomatoes until you have your large stock pot completely full or you run out of tomatoes. You can mound it up in the center because they will cook down considerably. Cover and cook over medium-high heat until the tomatoes on top are completely cooked through. Depending on the size of your kettle, this could take an hour or so. Meanwhile, wash & sterilize your glass jars.

    How to can tomato sauce 1

  2. Turn off the heat. Ladle tomatoes into a blender until half full, hold the lid on tightly and process until smooth. The tomatoes will be very hot, so be very careful not to fill the blender too full and make sure the lid is secure. Pour the blended tomatoes into your Foley Food Mill which should be fixed over your medium-sized kettle. Process them through, a blender-full at a time, working the handle counter-clockwise from time to time to scrape the seeds & skins loose from the bottom of the mill. After several blenders-full, turn the handle counter-clockwise and scrape seeds & skins into the compost bucket or garbage can.

    How to can tomato sauce 2

  3. When all tomatoes are processed, or your medium-sized kettle is full, place it on the stove over medium heat until it comes to a boil, stirring occasionally. Turn the heat down to low and simmer until the sauce is as thick as you like it. If you use regular slicing tomatoes, there may be quite a bit of juice that needs to cook away to make it thick enough. If you are using paste tomatoes, such as Amish Paste, or Roma, you may not need to cook it down at all. Ah, now you are understanding how to can tomato sauce!

    How to can tomato sauce 3

  4. The next step in learning how to can tomato sauce is to place your flats in a small kettle with some water and place over low heat while you fill your jars. This will soften the rubber seal slightly, allowing it to seal better. I place my jars in a cake pan that has a kitchen towel in it to keep the jars from shifting and banging together. Add 1 tablespoon of bottled lemon juice or ¼ teaspoon of citric acid to each pint jar. Using your large-mouth funnel and ladle, fill each jar to just below the threads, leaving about ¼ - ½ “ of headspace in each jar.

  5. Once all the jars in your pan are filled, use a clean, damp cloth to wipe the tops of the jars clean of any splashed tomato sauce. It is imperative that there be no residue on the top of the jar to interfere with the seal. Use a magnet or fork to remove the flats, one at a time, from the warm water and place them, rubber side down, on each jar. Screw on a band and hand-tighten. Fill your canner about 1/3 full of hot water or fill with cold and begin heating on the stove before putting in the hot jars of tomato sauce. Caution! When learning how to can tomato sauce, do not place hot pint jars in cold water in the canner as this could cause the jars to explode!

    How to can tomato sauce 4

  6. If you have a jar rack for your water-bath canner, place a pint in each slot and lower into the hot water. If you do not have a rack, you can place a folded kitchen towel in the bottom of the canner and place the pint jars directly on it. My canner has a rack for seven quart jars, so I can fit several more pints in by not using the rack. Add enough more hot water to cover the lids of the jars. Cover the canner and heat over high heat to boiling. Boil 30 minutes and turn off the heat.

  7. Remove the lid and wait until the water stops boiling and you can hold your hand over the canner without danger of burns from the steam. Lift out the jars using your jar lifter, placing them gently on a kitchen towel in a safe place, out of drafts, until they have cooled. Once you remove the jars from the canner, you should not disturb them until they have completely cooled. As they cool, you will hear snapping sounds as the lids seal themselves. Your learning how to can tomato sauce is coming to fruition!

    How to can tomato sauce 5

  8. When completely cool, gently touch the top of each jar. If the center of the flat is down and does not ‘give’ to slight pressure, your jars have sealed. You can also tell which ones have sealed by tapping gently on the lids. If the sound is hollow, the jar is not sealed completely. If some of the jars have not sealed, you may either store them in the refrigerator for up to a week for immediate use, or you can remove the band and flat, wipe the rim of the jar clean again, and using a new flat, try to process it again in the canner as described above. Otherwise, congratulations!

You have just supplied your family with healthy tomato sauce that will keep on a shelf in a cool place until you need it. Canned tomato sauce will keep for years as long as the jars do not unseal, but ours is always used before the year is out!

Now that you know how to save money by making your own tomato sauce, how would you like to go further and can your own spaghetti sauce for a quick and easy meal? It's so simple. Before you ladle the tomato sauce into your jars, simply add the following ingredients to each pint jar.

  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons dehydrated minced onion
  • 1/8 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon marjoram
  • 1/2 teaspoon parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf

Fill to the hip with your tomato sauce and can as directed. When ready to use, simply shake to combine and heat on the stove or in the microwave. Toss with cooked pasta for a simple and delicious meal in less than 30 minutes. If your family likes meat in their sauce like mine does. Add about 1/2 cup of cooked ground beef to each pint of tomato sauce and heat together.

That's it! Simple, delicious, and inexpensive.

This guest post on How to Can Tomato Sauce is by homeschooling mom Melody Bold who enjoys feeding her family very healthy and save money on food at the same time. Visit her  Avon website for some great deals to save you money and please leave her a comment or question below.

There are more ways to save money on groceries on this website to help you, including canning tomatoes.

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