How to Can Tomato Sauce from Fresh Tomatoes – the EASIER way!

tomato sauce - finished

Last week, my BFF and I made tomato sauce from fresh roma tomatoes, and canned them in mason jars in a water bath. We did about 52 quarts of sauce total! We started out doing things the HARD way, and then over the course of a couple hours eliminated steps until we were at the bare essentials. Learn how to can your own tomato sauce with our EASY method below, and SKIP the step of boiling and slipping the skins off of the tomatoes…

I love fermenting my own vegetables, but for some things it’s easier to can them and save room in the fridge. Tomato sauce is a good example of that. Canning tomato sauce is easier than you think (with my method below) and you can do A LOT of quarts in one day (we did 52!!). I prefer to use a water bath to can since it’s a lot easier than using a pressure-canner, but it does have to be an acidic food and the jars full of sauce do have to process in the water bath for 40 minutes. We added lemon juice to each jar to up to acidity and ensure that all will be well when eaten. Please do NOT skip this step as tomato varieties have been less acidic over the years, and this acidity is needed to prevent botulism.

Home canned tomato sauce is completely superior to anything that you can buy in a store, even the bottled sauce. Canned tomato sauce isn’t recommended due to the lining of the can leaching into the sauce, even in the BPA free cans! Glass is really the only safe way to store acidic foods such as tomatoes.

Tomato Sauce Canned using Water Bath Method


Easy, but time consuming

Page in NT: 154


  • Water Bath Canner with rack – I like this one because it doubles as a pot for broth making!
  • Big stockpot to hold the sauce – I used my 24 quart stockpot
  • Food Processor with chopping blade
  • Food Mill – I have this one and it was a very good manual one (didn’t clog easily), but wish I would have used an electric one!!
  • Good chef’s knife
  • Non-slip cutting mats
  • Wide-mouth quart sized mason jars – with clean rings and new lids
  • Ladle
  • Mason jar funnel
  • Mason jar lifter


  • whole roma variety tomatoes, or a similar variety of ‘paste’ tomato that has thick walls and not a lot of seeds
  • sea salt (to taste)
  • 2 T lemon juice per quart of finished sauce (use organic bottled in this case to be sure of acid content) or 1/2 teaspoon powdered citric acid per quart
  • optional – fresh basil, chopped
  • optional – fresh garlic, minced
  • optional – dried onion flakes
tomato sauce - box of tomatoes


  • Setup a strainer with a bowl under it to hold all of your tomato trimmings and drippings. Start by using the cutting board and chef’s knife to core and cut your tomatoes into quarters. Using your fingers, clean out the tomato of seeds into the strainer (don’t worry if it’s not perfectly seed-free), then put the cleaned tomato quarters into a separate bowl. The drippings will make the INCREDIBLE fresh tomato juice pictured below:
tomato sauce - fresh tomato juice

  • Once you have a bowl of cleaned out tomato quarters, process the tomatoes in the food processor until fairly smooth. Don’t worry about the skins and leftover seeds, you’ll take care of those in the next step. The food processor step is just to make the food mill step easier.
tomato sauce - chopped tomatoes

  • Process the pureed tomatoes in the food mill. This step will take the longest, but it will get out most of the skin pieces and seeds. Don’t worry if you food mill your tomato puree and it has tiny tiny bits of skin left, this will be cooked out in the next step.
tomato sauce - tomato puree

  • Cut up your optional basil and garlic – we did about 1-2 cloves of garlic per quart of finished sauce, or 20 cloves for a full 24 quart stockpot full of unfinished sauce.
tomato sauce - cutting basil

  • Pour your food mill processed puree into the stockpot along with optional garlic and basil. Boil and reduce by 1/3 (or 1/2 if you have the time), or until it’s a good consistency for what you want to use the sauce for. Salt to taste.
tomato sauce - boiling down

  • Once your sauce is boiled down, ladel into hot and clean mason jars that already have 2 Tablespoons of lemon juice in them (do not skip this step). Cap the jars with new lids that have been soaking in hot water and screw done the bands tightly (but not too tight). Process in a water bath canner for 40 minutes. Start your timer for the 40 minutes once you see the rolling boil start.
tomato sauce - finished2

  • After processing, lift out the jars using a mason jar lifter. Within a couple minutes or as the jars cool, you will hear a very satisfying ‘popping’ sound on each jar, where the lid is vacuum sealed down.
  • Cool the jars completely and then test the tops – if you push the lid and it pops back, the jar isn’t completely sealed. Put these jars in the fridge and use them in the next couple days, or freeze the contents of those jars.
  • Make any number of recipes with the tomato sauce, such as chili, meatloaf, spaghetti sauce!

Add to the discussion below – What are you canning this summer? Do you have an improvement to the method above?

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