Canning “Just Tomatoes” Sauce

DSC_0040When I first started canning I followed a marinara recipe but soon decided that canning “just tomatoes” would broaden the uses so now I can still make a marinara sauce but also use the tomato sauce for soups, stews, chili, sauces, rice dishes, etc.

8 quarts fresh tomatoes
3 quart canning jars and lids (or 6 pints)
1 pint canning jar and lid
7 Tablespoons lemon juice

Fill an 8 quart stock pot an inch from the rim with roughly chopped tomatoes (rinsed and stems removed). Over medium heat with the lid on, stirring occasionally, allow the tomatoes to cook until they break up and are “swimming” in their own juices (about 30 minutes). Turn off the heat. With a stainless steel emersion blender puree the tomatoes. *If you do not have a stainless steel emersion blender allow the tomatoes to cool and process in batches in a counter top blender and return to the stock pot.* Turn the heat to medium high, bring to a boil, reduce heat so the tomato sauce cooks at a slow boil. Continue cooking without lid until the tomato sauce has reduced by a third or to the desired consistency (this will depend on the tomato variety and desired consistency). This took about 3 hours. There isn’t a lot of work involved, just the patience to check in on the process and stir occasionally.

After 2 hours prepare the jars and lids (I normally put an extra jar in just in case it can always be used another time)- place jars in canning pot, cover with water, (add 1 Tablespoon of white vinegar if you have hard water to prevent build up on the glass), bring to a boil and boil for 10 minutes to sterilize. Leave jars in the hot water until ready to fill. Bring water in a small pot to a simmer, remove from heat, place lids in the hot water, cover and let sit till ready to seal the jars.

When the tomato sauce has reached the desired consistency it is ready to can. If using quart jars add 2 Tablespoons of lemon juice to each jar; pints- 1 Tablespoon. THE LEMON JUICE IS CRITICAL IN PRESERVING IN A WATER BATH METHOD BECAUSE IT ADJUSTS THE ACIDITY LEVEL SO DO NOT OMIT Fill each jar to 1/2 inch below the rim with tomato sauce, wipe the rims clean with a clean damp paper towel, put lids in place and finger tighten with the rings. Place filled jars back in the hot water canning pot, cover, bring to a boil and simmer for 35 minutes. Allow to cool in the hot water bath for 12-24 hours, remove and check that the lids have sealed (there should be no play when the center of the lid is pushed). Label and store.

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