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Tomato Canning 101

Tomato Canning 101: How to Make Homemade Pasta Sauce

I took a canning class with my good friend Marion and it was so much fun. No wonder everyone is canning! Now I can’t wait to get down to my garden and harvest more vegetables so I can can even more.

Interested in canning your own homemade pasta sauce? Follow my adventure in the kitchen with Ms. Marion to learn how to can. You can also read all about Marion and see how she shines in the garden and kitchen in our spotlight.

It’s all about tomatoes

You’ll need to gather a few things before you jump into the canning process, one of which is of course tomatoes. You will need a lot of tomatoes. Seriously, take the number of tomatoes you think you need and double it.

We used Mrs. Wages Pasta Sauce Canning Mix. It suggests six pounds of fresh tomatoes, which according to the recipe should be about 18 medium tomatoes. The recipe only calls for three ingredients: tomatoes, sugar and one sauce pouch. What’s the fun in following directions though? There were three of us canning that night and we all brought items from our gardens. We had 12 ounce jars instead of 16 ounce jars, which Mrs. Wages wants us to use. We ended up with nine full jars once the sauce was complete.

Follow the directions or take a chance and make it your own by changing things up. If you don’t have the same size jars or medium tomatoes, that’s ok. Go with what you have. We didn’t have the 18 medium tomatoes the recipe calls for because we all grew different types of tomatoes. I had 10 roma tomatoes, Marion contributed 5 better boy tomatoes and Andreina had an amazing 72 cherry tomatoes.

Along with your tomatoes, you’ll need the proper canning tools and any additions you’d like to make to the sauce. We also put in fresh herbs from Marion’s beautiful garden including rosemary, purple basil and sage. You can add herbs now or wait until you’re ready to use the sauce. It’s completely up to you. Here’s what you’ll need for your fun canning adventure.

Canning Supplies
  • At least 6 pounds of fresh tomatoes (roma & big slicing tomatoes are best but any work)
  • ¼ cup of sugar
  • 1 package of Mrs. Wages Pasta Sauce Canning Mix
  • A large pot to boil tomatoes in
  • A small pot to heat lids in
  • A paring knife
  • A slotted spoon
  • A cup of ice
  • A blender or immersion blender
  • A water bath canner or large tall pot with a lid and rack
  • A jar lifter
  • Canning jars (12 or 16 oz) with 2 piece lids
  • A ladle
  • A canning funnel
  • A timer
  • A spatula or chopstick
  • Paper towels
  • A magnetic lid wand

It sounds like a lot, but you can usually buy a canning kit that has all, or at least most, of the tools you need.

How to make and can homemade pasta sauce

Prepare the canning bath

  1. Insert the rack into the water bath canner or large tall pot.
  2. Fill half full with water, place the lid on top and bring to a boil.
  3. Wash jars and lids with hot soapy water.
  4. Heat lids in a small pot of boiling water.

Prepare the tomatoes

  1. Boil water in a large pot.
  2. Cut an X in the bottom of each tomato.
  3. Add tomatoes to boiling water and cook briefly until the skin loosens, about 3 minutes.
  4. Dunk tomatoes into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.
  5. Peel the skin off of the tomatoes.
  6. Blend tomatoes until smooth.

Make the sauce & complete canning

  1. Combine the blended tomatoes with sugar and the canning mix.
  2. Bring to a boil on the stove top and then reduce the heat and simmer for 25 minutes.
  3. Place the funnel in a jar and pour the completed mixture into it leaving half an inch of space from the top. Fill each jar.
  4. Wipe off any spills with a paper towel.
  5. Run a chopstick or spatula along the inside of each jar to break up any bubbles.
  6. Quickly use the magnetic lid wand to remove a hot lid from the pot and place one on each filled jar.
  7. Screw the ring around the jar lightly; not too tight. You want to be able to remove it easily.
  8. Place each jar on top of the rack in the water bath canner or large tall pot. Make sure water covers the jars. Add water if it doesn’t.
  9. Place the lid on top and boil for 40 minutes to complete the canning process.

Check the jars

  1. Once the timer goes off, remove the jars from the pot with the jar lifter. Place them on a tea towel to cool.
  2. Let the jars cool slightly and then test the jars to make sure they are sealed. Unscrew the ring and lift up on the flat lid. If it doesn’t move, it is sealed properly. Replace the ring and allow it to cool completely. If the lid does come off, it did not seal completely. You cannot redo the sealing process so you’ll need to use the sauce soon. Place it in the refrigerator. The jars that did seal properly can be stored on a shelf in the pantry.

I had a wonderful time canning our pasta sauce. I am in love with the idea that the tomatoes and herbs came from our gardens. I can’t wait until our next canning night!

How did your canning experience turn out? What was your favorite part of the process? Share in the comments below.
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