How To Can Tomato Sauce, {Plus} Tomato Powder From Scraps

This year I decided to make tomato sauce with the tomatoes I froze from the garden. I use a lot of tomato sauce in my cooking, and with the addition of different spices it’s easy to change the flavor to suite many dishes.

Tomato Sauce Canning Recipe

You can use either fresh or frozen tomatoes. I prefer frozen because they’re super easy to skin. Just plop them into hot water, and they practically peel themselves.

Tomat Sauce Canning Recipe

After soaking frozen tomatoes in warm-hot water for a minute, make a small slit in the skin and they’ll slide right off.

Cooking It Down

Tomato Sauce Canning Recipe

For this batch, I had enough to fill two 21-1/2-Quart Canners. I’m using these as my cooking pots because they’re the biggest thing I’ve got.

Tomato Sauce Canning Recipe

Cover the pots, and cook over medium heat until the tomatoes are swimming in water. Pour it off, and continue cooking down, pouring off the water to keep only an inch or so in the bottom of the pot. By draining the water out before smashing down the tomatoes, you reduce the cooking time significantly.

Tomato Sauce Canning Recipe

Believe it or not, after reducing these tomatoes I was able to combine all of them into one pot. Cook over medium heat until the tomatoes are soft, then run them through a strainer.

Straining Out The Seeds

Tomato Sauce Canning Recipe

It’s not a very pretty setup, but it works. Since my Back to Basics Food Strainer & Sauce Maker doesn’t fit on my countertops, I have to clamp it to my kids’ play table (or sometimes the bathroom counter).

Spoon the softened tomatoes into the hopper, turn the crank, and out comes smooth tomato juice.

Tomato Sauce Canning Recipe

The pulp and seeds are discarded out a side shoot. This gadget really is great to have for making sauces. Save the discarded pulp- we’re gonna do a little experiment with it!

tomato juice

Pour the strained tomatoes back into the pot. You now have tomato juice.

Reducing The Sauce

Tomato Sauce Canning Recipe

Simmer, uncovered, until the liquid has reduced quite a bit and the sauce has thickened. I don’t have an exact time, just keep cooking it until it’s as thick as what you’d typically find with store bought tomato sauce.

When your sauce is as thick as desired, start getting your canning supplies ready.

Filling Your Jars

Canning Tomato Sauce

In a small pot, bring some water to a simmer (never boil) and allow your canning lids to simmer for about 15 minutes. The ones I’m using here are Tattler Reusable Canning Lids, which I love because they can be used over and over again, indefinitely (a real money saver when you do a lot of canning).

You’ll also want to make sure you have clean, sanitized jars ready to fill. I run mine through the dishwasher beforehand, and keep them in there so they stay hot until I’m ready for them.

You can also boil them in a large pot of water for 10-15 minutes, keeping them in simmering water until ready to use. You want to work with warm/hot jars when pouring hot liquids, so the jars don’t crack.

Tomato Sauce Canning Recipe

Using a funnel and a ladle, fill the jars about half way with hot tomato sauce.

Tomato Sauce Canning Recipe

At this point we’ll add some lemon juice for acidity, since we won’t be pressure canning these tomatoes. Many varieties of modern tomatoes have reduced acidity, so we add lemon juice just to be safe.

Add 1 Tbsp lemon juice per pint jar, 2 Tbsp per quart. I add the lemon juice halfway through the process, as opposed to pouring it in the jar first, because it came straight out of the fridge and the juice is cold.

If I was to pour cold lemon juice into a hot jar, the glass would crack. (Ask me how I know.)

Tomato Sauce Canning Recipe

Continue filling the jar to 1/2″ headspace (space from top of rim). Using a damp cloth, wipe any food from the rim, which might prevent the lid from sealing.

Tomato Sauce Canning Recipe

Place a previously simmered lid on the jar, and screw on the ring/band.

Processing In The Canner

Tomato Sauce Canning Recipe

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Fill a 21 quart Water Bath Canner with enough water to cover the jars by 1-2″. Bring to a rolling boil, then fill the rack with jars and lower into canner. Cover, and process pints for 35 min, quarts for 45 min.

Tomato Sauce Canning Recipe

Using a jar lifter, remove the jars from the canner and place them on a towel or rack to cool. Allow them to sit for about 24 hours before testing the lids to make sure they sealed properly.

If any of the lids come off, you can bring that sauce back up to a boil and reprocess them in a new, clean jar; or you can put the opened jar in the fridge to be eaten within the week.

Note: I started out with about 7 1/2 gallons of tomatoes (approx.), and ended up filling 15 pint jars. There often isn’t really an exact measurement for canning recipes, because the results can vary greatly. But at least this will give you a general idea of how many jars you might need.

Dehydrated Tomato Pulp

Dehydrating tomato pulp

Now for our experiment! Take the discarded pulp from the straining process, and spread it out thin on a dehydrator sheet. I have an inexpensive Nesco Dehydrator which works great. You can also do this on a nonstick baking dish to bake in the oven.

Note: Next time I do tomatoes, I think I will core them before freezing. That way when I make this dehydrated pulp, there won’t be hard core bits in it. Also, I should have saved the tomato peels to dehydrate as well!

Dried Tomato Puree

Dehydrate at 135* (or bake at a low temperature) until the pulp is dried through and brittle. This may take the good part of a day, or even overnight.

How To Make Tomato Powder

In a blender or food processor, grind the dried puree into a powder. Store in an airtight container and experiment with adding it to your favorite dishes for a boost of tomato flavor!

Simple Tomato Sauce Canning Recipe

  • Approx. 7 1/2 gallons of tomatoes
  • lemon juice
  • 15 (more or less) pint jars

Peel tomatoes, and place them in a large pot. Do not add water to the pot. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until the tomatoes have softened.

Run cooked tomatoes through a strainer to remove the seeds. Pour puree back into pot, bring to a simmer over medium heat, and continue cooking until reduced to suit your preference.

Ladle hot tomato sauce into hot jars, filling half way. Add 1 Tbsp lemon juice per pint, 2 Tbsp per quart. Continue filling each jar to 1/2″ headspace.

Tap jars, or use the back end of a plastic or wooden utensil, to remove any possible air bubbles. Wipe rim of jars with a damp cloth, and affix previously simmered lids.

Process pints for 35 min, quarts for 45 min. in a Water Bath Canner.

Do you have a favorite tomato sauce canning recipe to share?

29 thoughts on “How To Can Tomato Sauce, {Plus} Tomato Powder From Scraps”

  1. Love your site and all your canning ideas. I have a similar food strainer that I use for various juices and I love it. I ran into similar situations with figuring out where to clamp it. Then one summer day (few years ago) my son was playing with scraps of wood (2×6 pieces) hammer and nails. He built a base that looked like I had to have to clamp my strainer to set on any surface anywhere. After convincing and praising him for solving my problem he didn’t even know I had he let me have it. It has been fun to pull it out year after year and still get a reaction from him. I don’t see how to adds pic to this post but if you are interested In seeing it I could email it to you. Thanks for all you do!!

  2. Thank you for the tomato source recipe,I did give it a try used a bit of vinegar instead of lemon juice . I bottled the source alright,but,during storage,inside one jar,a white mould developed after some time . What could have caused that or where did I go wrong . Unfortunately I had to get rid of it all.

  3. I hadn’t thought of using the leftovers from tomato canning, but we do the same thing with the peels from apples when making pie filling or just chopped apples. Dehydrate, blend into powder, and add all those nutrients to other recipes!

    I’ve also powdered dehydrated jalopenos for shaking on at the table.

    • Thank you guys so much, i have lot of Tomatoes plant each Season at my back yard,
      i have been doing my tomatoes sources and refrigirating,since i am afraid
      mistaking on the canning.
      Now i have the courage by reading your experiences and how to do it proper.
      Thank you so much.

  4. Thank you for sharing. I have the Roma Juicer/Sauce Maker. I recently used mine to do roma tomatoes to make ketchup. I still had LOTS of seed in the juice. What cone/strainer did you use?? Thanks in advance Paula

  5. I do not have any kind of food mill so I still peel and core my tomatoes for canning; but I do save all peels and cores and put them in my Vita Mix with a bit of fresh tomatoes and whir ’til there is just tomato sauce in the bottom. No one knows that the extra flavor comes from peels and cores. I pour it right back in the pot and proceed with canning. No waste what-so-ever!

  6. A hint I discovered somewhere along my canning journey worked out great for me. Once you’ve processed your tomatoes to the sauce stage, let your stock pot cool then put it in the fridge overnight. We have an extra fridge in the basement, so that’s where I put mine. When you take it out in the morning, the pulp has settle to the bottom and the liquid can be taken off the top with a baster. I reserve the liquid to process with my sauce as “tomato stock” that I can use in soups and chili. It saves a lot of cooking time to reduce the sauce, not to mention the heat in the kitchen!

  7. Hi, have you tried turning your jars upside down to cool off, it helps pressure seal cans, I advise doing this outside though, I have to can maybe 500 jars a year, this way I maybe have to reheat 20 of them, though I will admit I dont use the same jars as in your blog.

  8. Just thought I would tell you that I leave the skins on and the seeds in. I use my immersion blender to chop up the skins. You can barely see them and none of my picky family has ever mentioned it. I cook the tomatoes down and then cold pack them. Just try a jar or two and you’ll be amazed. I know I was when I first tried it.

    I also freeze tomatoes until I get enough to can. Found this tip on the net. I don’t know why it didn’t hit me before.

  9. Hi Kendra,
    One day I’ll do the dehydrated tomatoes, too. So far haven’t gotten around to that. Hey, I learned a trick with tomatoes–making sauce the lazy way. Learned it from “Tending My Garden” blog. Slice the tomatoes (thick is fine) and fill a nice big roasting pan with them. Don’t peel them, core them…anything. Just slice the whole tomatoes. Then set them in the oven–400 or 450 if you’re there to watch, lower (350-ish) if you’re busy doing other things. Every so often stir the tomatoes. They cook down as the liquid evaporates. Don’t worry if you see some browning of the top layer, or in the corners of the pan. This sauce will be WONDERFUL! Something about oven-roasting them gives the sauce a delicious flavor. When the tomatoes have cooked down to a nice thick tomato sauce consistency, remove them from the heat. Allow it to cool enough to work with. Then run the tomatoes/pulp/skin through a food strainer (Squeezo, Roma, whatever). I put the remaining pulp/seed mixture back through the strainer a few times to extract as much sauce as I can. Then continue as normal canning the sauce–add salt if you choose, but always be sure to add the lemon juice. I’ve thought about dehydrating the leftover skin/seed/pulp, but haven’t yet. But I don’t throw it out. Freeze it in little baggies. It adds a wonderfuly intense tomato flavor to lots of things.

    Thanks for your newsletter. I enjoy it.


  10. Yes, you can definitely do this with the skins on. I made all my sauce this year with the skins on-the Vittorio seperates them right out with the seeds. I never thought of freezing the tomatoes, though. What a good idea! I always dip mine in boiling water for taking the skins off for crushed and whole tomatoes, but I’ll have to try it your way. The less boiling pots on the stove in August the better!

  11. Hi Kendra,

    I have been canning my own tomato sauce for a couple years and drying the skins to make paste. I dry them in my dehydrator, grind it all up & store it in mason jars & then add water as needed to make the paste! I add all kinds of stuff in my sauce, it’s always different depending on what grows well! In my opinion the best sauce is with added summer squash! So good in the cold long winter months! (I live in Maine!)
    I love your blog! We live on one acre and have goats for milk & meat, chickens for eggs & meat and ducks for some eggs. In the spring were going to try meat rabbits. We are striving to be as self sufficient as we can on our small piece of land and we do ok, but no where near were id like to be! (We have two children & our 3rd due in july so it feels some days like its one step forward two steps back!) It is definitely hard work but so rewarding! Sorry for the long comment just wanted to share I enjoy reading about someone with a similar life!
    Take care,

  12. I am so grateful I found your blog! I have been a “backyard” farmer for many years, but never grew enough to can, freeze or store. In July, we moved to the South and now have room to have a large garden. We studied our yard (and continue to do so) the remainder of Summer for a proper garden area. We are surrounded by huge oaks and pecan trees. I will definitely use your blog as a source for everything!!

  13. As you are initially cooking your tomatoes and pouring off the liquid that accumulates before you begin to strain out the seeds (“Cover the pots, and cook over medium heat until the tomatoes are swimming in water. Pour it off, and continue cooking down, pouring off the water to keep only an inch or so in the bottom of the pot.”), you might consider saving that thin tomato juice you refer to as water for later use when cooking. (Of course, I don’t even bother to strain out the seeds and leave then right in the tomato sauce — it works just fine and makes for a MUCH easier process, you you do end up with a lot of seeds in your sauce.)

    • Jes,

      What I am pouring off is clear, so it’s definitely mostly water. This comes from the defrosting of the tomatoes as they warm in the pot. Once the liquid starts looking more like juice, I leave that in there. You could definitely save whatever you pour off for a soup base or something, if you feel like there’s nutritional value there. Hey, maybe even give it to the chickens! I think I might start trying to make it with the skins still on. I’ve heard others have good results with that. Easier is always a plus in my book! 🙂

      • I would at least pour it on plants or give to animals to drink. I might also try boiling it down to concentrate the tomato flavor for cooking beans and such…..thanks so much for all the great tips.


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