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Fun fact: Tomatoes are actually berries. And like all berries, they’re at their sweetest and juiciest in season. A great way to preserve your summer tomato haul is canning, but if you’re looking for an alternative way to enjoy the red, fleshy fruit year round make a big batch of tomato sauce and freeze it.
Good news! While most recipes call for Romas you can really use any variety you can get your hands on. A little prep and a few simple ingredients yield a sauce that will bring you back to long summer days deep into the colder months. Enjoy!
If you’ve been eyeing those gorgeous tomatoes at the farmers market and wondering what it might take to transform them into jars of delicious red sauce, wonder no more. Here is everything you need to know to make a moderate-sized batch of tomato sauce for your pantry (or freezer!), from picking the right tomatoes to packing the sauce into jars.
Fifteen pounds of fresh tomatoes. One afternoon. Eight pints of sauce. It’s go time.
Making tomato sauce isn’t very hard, but it’s definitely labor-intensive. Even the relatively small amount that we’re making here — just enough for a few special mid-winter meals — will take you a solid afternoon of work from start to finish. If you want to make a larger batch, give yourself even more time for the project and think about recruiting some extra hands to help you out.
Any tomato that tastes good to you can be used to make tomato sauce; it’s really that simple. Romas and other paste tomatoes are often recommended for canning because they generally have more flesh with less juice and fewer seeds. However, they are smaller (which means more up-front prep work), and I often find that their flavor isn’t as good as other tomatoes. I used Big Boy tomatoes — your basic summer slicing tomato — for the batch I made for this post and couldn’t be happier. If you like what you start with, you’ll like what you finish with.
Another factor to consider is the cost of the tomatoes. Anything more than a dollar a pound, and the cost-effectiveness of this home canning project starts to plummet. A friend of mine who tries to can around 180 pounds of tomatoes each summer says she doesn’t pay much attention to the particular tomato variety; she just picks up what she can find for cheap. This often means buying in bulk directly from farms or picking your own — or even better, growing your own if you can!