It’s that time of year where we’re either elated at the abundance of tomatoes we have grown, or a little sad at the loss of so many due to an early frost. I am, unfortunately, in the latter category. Our greenhouse was no match for the polar vortex a few weeks ago. Nonetheless, we got a few, and I intend to buy several dozen pounds of them to can, so we’ll also be making a marinara sauce out of them. The kids much prefer this anyway.
Tomatoes are historically easy to can because of their acidity. A simple canning process can include lemon juice and salt, vinegar isn’t even entirely necessary. If you have 3 lbs of tomatoes, you can make one quart of whole canned tomatoes. For this, Roma tomatoes are great because they are meatier with fewer seeds and water content, however, all tomatoes will work for this recipe.
*In all canning, make sure your jars and lids are sanitized. You can boil them, or you can use the sanitize setting on the dishwasher with the heated dry.
Here’s a simple canned tomato recipe using the water bath method:
Peel your tomatoes by boiling them. When skins begin to retract remove them from the water and plunge into cold water to stop the cooking and loosen the skins. Peel the tomato skins off and cut out the stem. Press peeled and cored tomato firmly into prepared jar. Fill each jar until there is only 1/2 inch air remaining at the top. Once your jars are packed with tomatoes, add 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt per quart, and 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice per quart. Place lids and rims on jars and tighten.
Prepare a large boiling water bath in a stockpot or lobster pot. Make sure water is deep enough that it will completely cover the jars. Once the water has come to a boil arrange jars on a wire jar rack and lower into the water. Allow quarts to process in the water bath for 45 minutes. When processing is complete, remove the rack of jars and place on a heatproof surface. Cover jars with a dishtowel and allow them to sit for a few hours at room temperature to cool.
That’s it for basic, simple canned tomatoes.
If you want to try to make your own marinara sauce, its a process, but worth it – especially if you have lots of heirloom vegetables from the garden. I carve out an entire morning or afternoon, because it is time-consuming, especially if you have an abundance of tomatoes. But this sauce is so much better than anything you could possibly buy at the grocery store! Follow this guide to try it:
Canned Marinara Sauce
- 3 leaf (blank)s bay leaves
- 1 1/2 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 pound yellow onions, finely chopped
- 10 cloves garlic, finely chopped (i double this, and use about 20 cloves)
- 10 1-quart canning jars with rings and lids
- 10 teaspoons salt, divided
- 1 3/4 cups bottled lemon juice, divided
- Place tomatoes, bay leaves, honey, oregano, 1 tablespoon salt, and black pepper in a large stockpot and cover with water. Stir to combine, cover, and bring to a low boil over medium-high heat. Remove cover and simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove bay leaves. Taste and adjust seasoning.
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onions and garlic. Cook and stir onions and garlic in the hot oil until the onions are softened but not browned, about 10 minutes.
- Transfer the cooked tomatoes to a food mill placed over a bowl and puree in batches, separating the tomato pulp and juice from the tomato skins and seeds. Return the tomato pulp and juice to the stockpot, add the cooked onions and garlic, and cook, uncovered, over medium-high heat until sauce thickens and reduces by about half, about 1 to 1-1/2 hours. Stir occasionally to prevent scorching.
- To each sanitized jar, add 1 teaspoon salt and 3 tablespoons bottled lemon juice. Ladle the hot tomato sauce into jars, leaving 1/2-inch of space at the top of each jar. Wipe jar rims with a clean, damp cloth, place lids onto jars, and screw on rings.
- Place filled jars in the canning kettle. Reduce the water to a simmer, adding more water if needed to cover the jars by at least 1/2 inch. Cover kettle and bring water to a boil. Cook at a steady boil to process the jars until fully sealed. This will take about 45 minutes. Turn off heat and let jars rest 5 minutes before removing and cooling on a clean, dry towel placed on the kitchen counter or table. Check that the lids have sealed, and store in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year.
This is a great marinara recipe, and feel free to mess around with the seasonings to make it just how your family likes it! I add a lot more garlic, and probably more onion than it calls for, but you could always do less, or none!