Winter’s coming, so now it’s time to gather in the bounty of the garden and store some summer in jars for those big batches of chili and the bone chilling days to come. This process will be repeated for several weeks until the first frost ends the tomato harvest. Then we’ll pick all the green ones and make tomato jam and green sauce.
Canning tomatoes or tomato sauce is not difficult, just time-consuming and a little messy. The first batch consisted of somewhere around 3/4 of a bushel of tomatoes (I can’t find my scale so this is a guess based on the size of the basket.) First of all gather your canning equipment. You don’t need anything fancy to can tomato sauce, just an old-fashioned water bath canning pot
Sterilized mason jars and lids (you can do this in the dishwasher on the normal wash, sterilize and hot dry cycle) and a jar lifter.
and some ripe tomatoes (don’t have to be perfect because you’re going to peel them.)
To begin, put a large pot of water on the stove and bring it to a simmer. Trim the stem end of each tomato and cut an X on the bottom.
Drop the tomatoes into the simmering water for about 4 minutes. Remove them with a slotted spoon and put into a bowl or sink of ice water for about another 4 minutes and place in a bowl. The skins will slip off easily. I remove the seeds at this point because they interrupt the flow of my tomato sauce. Just use your fingers to open the side of the tomato and squeeze out the seeds. Put the squeezed tomatoes into the food processor.
Puree the tomatoes and pour into a large pot (not aluminum) or dutch oven. Bring up to a boil, cover and lower to a simmer. Continue to simmer until the sauce reaches the consistency you want (about 1-2 hours).
Fill the water bath canning pot up to the fill line and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a strong simmer.
Salt the sauce to taste (I don’t recommend adding any spices. Do that when you use the sauce). Add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice to each sterilized jar (I used bottled to ensure consistent acidity). Ladle the sauce into the jar, leaving about 1/4 inch at the top below the screw top line. Wipe the rim on the jar with a damp cloth, place the lid on the top of the jar and screw the band on hand firm but not too tight. Place the jars into the water bath canner and process on a strong simmer for about 20 minutes for quart jars.
Remove the jars and place on a dry kitchen towel to cool. Don’t mess with the jars. As they cool, you should hear a “ping” which signifies that the jars have properly sealed. Some jars will seal immediately, some may take a little while (do not mess with the jars). After 24 hours when the jars have cooled completely you can re-tighten the bands slightly (or remove them completely). The lids should be sealed at this point and the bands are not required for storage, but I leave them on anyway. The lids should be slightly concave which shows that they are properly sealed.