When I first started making tomato sauce I wondered frequently if it was really worth all of that hard work. A can of tomato sauce back then anyway was 50 cents and it seemed like a lot of effort to go to just to make a can of sauce I could buy for so little. I have learned a lot since then, not only about the benefits of making my own food but also that making tomato sauce does not have to be so hard.
Back then I would quarter my tomatoes, cook them down a bit and run them through a hand crank food mill. Don’t get me wrong I am all for hand tools and I don’t mind a bit of hard work, but making tomato sauce should not be a two day affair, and I just have better things to do with my time. I tried to recruit people to help with all of that cranking but after a while they wised up and made themselves scarce when it was time to make tomato sauce.
The Easy Way
Ok so I cheat, but it allows me to do more sauces in a much shorter period of time and gives me time for other important tasks I need to do. Now my tomato sauce involves an extra step but it is worth it for how much time and effort it saves me.
I also use the food mill attachment for my kitchenaid, If you have a kitchenaid mixer I strongly recommend this attachment especially if you will be making a lot of sauces from your tomatoes. It saves a tremendous amount of time and effort and does a really nice job of extracting the sauce. If you do not have a kitchenaid mixer a hand food mill will still work fine, but it will just take you a bit longer. When I use the kitchenaid and process my tomatoes with the following method I can have my sauce ready to go back on in about 15 or 20 minutes.
5) Once you have processed all of your tomatoes, return the sauce to your stockpot. Cook at a simmer for 4 to 6 hours or until the sauce has reduced by about half and is at the desired thickness. Be sure to stir frequently as tomato sauce will scorch easily. Turn burner down if the sauce begins to burn or is boiling too much. It is better to cook it a bit slower and take more time than to burn the sauce making it useless for canning.
When you are ready to can your tomato sauce you have a couple of choices, you can use either a water bath canning method or you can pressure can the sauce, I have done both.
1) Prepare your jars, lids and ring by washing them all in hot soapy water, fill your jars with hot water until you are ready to fill them and place your lids in a pan of boiling water. (you can use pints or quarts for this recipe)
2) Fill your canning kettle with water and bring it to a full boil. I also put a tea kettle on to boil at the same time, in case I do not have enough water to go over the top of the jars, you want to make sure that the water is about 1 to 2 inches over the top of your jars. For Tomato sauce you will also want to keep your tea kettle filled with boiling water in case the water boils down to far, it will allow you to recover the jars without interrupting the boiling.
3) Place 2 tablespoons of lemon Juice in each quart jar, or 1 tablespoon for pints, then fill the jars with your tomato sauce, leaving 1/2 inch head space in each jar.
4) Wipe the rims of the jars, and put hot lids and rings on the jars and tighten just slightly without over tightening the rings.
5) Place jars in the boiling water bath for 40 minutes for quarts and 35 minutes for pints, remove from hot water and check lids after they have cooled to ensure a good seal. If your jars do not seal then refrigerate contents.
Pressure Canning Method
Pressure canning offers a higher quality and more nutritious canned tomato product and it also takes less time than using a water bath canner, so I normally use this method.
Everything is done exactly the same in the pressure canning method except that you will process the tomato sauce in a pressure canner. Process Pints or quarts for 15 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure or 15 pounds of pressure for high altitudes.