basil garlic tomato sauce

i decided earlier this summer that i was going to make tomato sauce and can it. this is my maiden voyage.

sometime last week one of my coworkers gave me a good sized bag of homegrown garlic. saturday morning on my trek through the market i picked up 20 pounds of tomatoes for a mere $9. i had basil growing in my backyard at home so i picked up some small onions at the market and i was ready. nervous, but ready.

i started by blanching my tomatoes. easy enough. i used a slotted spoon to transfer my tomatoes to and from the boiling water and the ice bath. and was able to do about 6 tomatoes at a time. after the first couple tries i had a good rhythm going - put 6 tomatoes in, boil for one minute, move from boiling water to ice water, add 6 tomatoes to boiling water, while tomatoes boil for one minute peel the tomatoes in ice water, when tomatoes are done boiling the ones in ice water were peeled. it worked well for me, but it might be a little crazy for you. start out with 4 tomatoes and work your way up. it took me a hour just to blanch and peel them all.

once the tomatoes are blanched, ready and waiting, i sauteed the onion and garlic. also easy. add tomatoes and cook. easy. now comes the tricky part - blending it. i had a huge stockpot and i knew there was no way my stick blender would even put a dent in it, let alone actually reach the bottom. so i decided to use my food processor. it can hold more than my conventional blender and works much better than my blender.

there's one key piece missing from my logic: blenders are water tight. food processors are not.

i ended up with a huge mess of tomato juice all over the counter and half pureed sauce in my food processor. when all way said and done, it looked like a tomato massacre on my counter from transferring the sauce from the food processor to the blender. what a mess. so take it from me - use the conventional blender. i did about 6 batches in my blender to get all the sauce.

once the sauce was blended, it was smooth sailing. it takes a while to cook the sauce down to half its volume and canning it was a breeze. i only had 7 pint jars, so i ended up with another pint and a half left. i refrigerated half a pint, froze half a pint, and had the rest tossed with pasta for dinner.

if you don't want to can it or have 20 pounds of tomatoes, go ahead and scale it. and this is your sauce - so change it up as you like.

basil garlic tomato sauce
4 hours, makes 8 pints

20 lb tomatoes
1 cup chopped onion
8 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup fresh basil, minced
if you're canning it - bottled lemon juice and any combo of pint and half pint jars to total 8 pints
  1. add enough water to a stock pot to cover a layer of tomatoes and bring water to a boil. blanch tomatoes for about one minutes and place in ice water. when cool enough to touch, remove skin and discard. set tomato aside and repeat with remaining tomatoes. to save some time later, quarter the tomatoes.
  2. in a large stock pot, cook the garlic and onion in olive oil over medium low heat for about 5 minutes, or until translucent.
  3. add the tomatoes and cook about twenty minutes, or until the tomatoes really start to break down.
  4. puree the mixture using a conventional blender. add back to the stockpot.
  5. bring to a boil and simmer until reduced in volume by half. this took me 3 hours. if you aren't canning the sauce, it's ready to eat!
if you're canning the sauce -
  1. when your sauce is getting close to reduced by half, get your boiling water canner, jars, and lids ready.
  2. add 1 tablespoon lemon juice to each pint jar and 1 1/2 teaspoons to each half pint jar. fill the jars with sauce, leaving 1/2" headspace. cover and process in boiling water canner for 35 minutes. remove from the canner and allow to sit at room temperature for 24 hours. check to make sure the jars are sealed. if the button on the top can be pressed, the jar isn't sealed and needs to be kept in the refrigerator.


  1. To can this did you use a pressure cooker or do you just get a huge pot, but a rack in the bottom and boil?

  2. Lara - I use a huge pot with a rack in the bottom and boiled the filled jars for 35 minutes. The tomatoes have enough acid in them - especially when adding the lemon juice - that they don't need to be pressure canned.

  3. You have no idea how much I'm craving tomato sauce right now (hubby can't eat tomatoes anymore)! This might be a little embarrassing to admit, but I've never blanched my tomatoes before making sauce. I might have to try this next time! Thanks for the great post!

  4. Rachel - i can't believe i left out the basil in the recipe steps! i added it right before i pureed the sauce. you could add it afterwards, if you prefer larger pieces of basil too.


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