When you have an abundance of delicious, ripe tomatoes and peppers from the garden, turn them into homemade pasta sauce!
Although one of the summer’s many pleasures is to eat those first few ripe tomatoes straight from the garden, it doesn’t take long before your countertops and crisper drawers become overfilled with ripe tomatoes. Then before you know it, you are trying to make room for those peppers and onions that are also ready to come out of the garden.
That’s when you know it’s time to bring out the canning equipment! When you are able to preserve all those delicious, ripe vegetables, you are able extend that fresh-picked garden flavor long into the winter months.
Even though you can only dream about picking summer’s bountiful garden during the cold winter months, you can still enjoy the flavors of the garden’s harvest all year long when you make this homemade pasta sauce.
And don’t worry if you don’t have the proper canning equipment required for pressure canning! You can still make and freeze the sauce instead as an easy alternative that tastes just as delicious as canned!
How To Make Homemade Pasta Sauce
*Complete recipe instructions including specific measurements, cook temperatures and times are located in a printable recipe card at the bottom of this article. However, be sure to keep reading for helpful tips and tricks when making this recipe.
- Peppers (red and green)
- Sweet Onions
- Fresh Basil
- Fresh Oregano
- Fresh Chopped Parsley
- Garlic Salt
- Black Pepper
- Tomato Paste
- Dry Red Wine
Choosing The Right Tomatoes
The first step to making homemade pasta sauce is to pick out your tomatoes. Choose tomatoes that are fully ripe and free of disease. Remove any spots or blemishes prior to using.
Since you want the finished sauce to be nice and thick, it is best to use paste tomatoes to create the sauce. They are typically a few inches long and are more oblong in shape as opposed to round.
Paste tomatoes also contain less water and have thicker walls than slicing or cherry tomatoes. The more paste tomatoes you use, the thicker your sauce will be in the end.
Even if you don’t grow your own paste tomatoes, you can still find them readily available at local Farmer’s markets, streetside vendors, or in many grocery stores during the summer months. Look for varieties such as Roma, San Marzano, or Amish Paste.
You can use other tomato varieties in addition to paste tomatoes. However, it is best to use at least 75% of paste tomatoes to achieve the desired consistency. Although adding in a few different tomato varieties will give you a richer, more unique flavor profile for your tomato sauce.
Prep The Veggies
Once you have your tomatoes it is time to prepare them to be turned into homemade pasta sauce. Start by peeling the tomatoes and remove the seeds. The easiest way to do this is to remove the stem end and drop the tomatoes into a pot of boiling water.
Allow the tomatoes to boil for one minute, then immediately remove them and place them in an ice water bath to stop the cooking process. When they are cool enough to handle (usually less than one minute), peel the skin off of the tomato and compost or discard the skins.
Next, cut the tomato in half and remove the core as well as the seeds and excess juice. Dice the tomatoes and place them in a large non-reactive stockpot over medium heat. Stir frequently to avoid sticking and burning.
While the tomatoes begin to heat up remove the stems and seeds of the peppers. Chop the peppers coarsely and then place them into a food processor. (Affiliate Product Link: Hamilton Beach Food Processor)
Peel and coarsely chop the onion and garlic and add them to the food processor as well. Pulse the ingredients until they are finely chopped but not pureed.
Let The Sauce Reduce
Add the mixture to the stockpot as well as the remaining ingredients and stir. Bring the sauce to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the sauce has reduced by 25%. Stir frequently to help prevent sticking and to help break down the tomatoes.
The next step will depend on whether you are planning to can the pasta sauce or freeze it. For canning, you need a pressure canner. It is not recommended to water bath this homemade pasta sauce. (Affiliate Product Link: Presto Pressure Canner)
Canning Homemade Pasta Sauce
If you plan on pressure canning the sauce, prepare and sterilize quart-sized jars and keep them warm. Wash and set aside the lids and bands.
Next, get your pressure canner prepared based on the manufacturer’s instructions. Add a couple of tablespoons of white vinegar to the water to prevent the jars from spotting.
Once the sauce has reduced, ladle it into the hot jars, leaving ½ inch of headspace. Remove any bubbles, wipe the rim, and add the lids. Lastly, add the bands and finger tighten.
Use a jar lifter to place the jars into the pressure canner. Once all the jars are in, lock the lid in place and process at 10 pounds of pressure for 25 minutes. *Follow the instructions for your specific canner on bringing it up to pressure. Be sure to adjust for altitude as required.
When the time is up, allow the pressure to naturally de-pressurize. Once ready, remove the jars with a jar lifter and place them on a thick towel.
Allow the canned homemade pasta sauce to sit undisturbed for 24 hours. Then, check to make sure that the jars have been sealed by pressing the center of the lid. If it moves up and down, the jar did not seal. Place those jars immediately in your refrigerator and consume them within two weeks.
For jars that are sealed, store them in a cool, dark place for up to 18 months.
Freezing Homemade Pasta Sauce
After the sauce has thickened and reduced by 25%, allow it to cool completely. This can be done overnight in the fridge or for a few hours sitting out on your counter.
Once the tomato sauce has cooled, spoon it into freezer-safe containers. Seal the container tightly, removing as much air as possible. Label with the product name and date and place in your freezer. Use within 8 to 10 months for the best flavor and texture.
If you want another great way to use up your excess tomatoes and garden vegetables, try making homemade pizza sauce instead. (See, “Homemade Pizza Sauce – Made From Fresh Tomatoes“)
Mary and Jim
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- 25 lbs of tomatoes, at least 75% Paste tomatoes
- 4 large green peppers
- 2 large red peppers
- 3 large sweet onions
- 8 cloves of garlic
- 2 tablespoons of fresh basil
- 2 tablespoons of fresh oregano
- 2 tablespoons of fresh chopped parsley
- 1 tablespoon of salt
- 1 tablespoon of garlic salt
- 1/2 tablespoon of black pepper
- 2 - 6 oz. cans of tomato paste
- 2 cups dry red wine
- Wash, peel, and de-seed tomatoes. Easily peel tomatoes by placing them in boiling water for one minute and immediately in an ice-water bath for one minute. The skins will easily peel off. Cut the tomato in half and squeeze out the seeds and excess juice.
- Dice tomatoes into small pieces and place in a large, non-reactive stockpot on medium heat. Stirring frequently to avoid sticking.
- Remove stems and seeds of peppers, then coarsely chop. Peel and coarsely chop onion and garlic. Add peppers, onion, and garlic to a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add mixture to stockpot with tomatoes.
- Mix in remaining ingredients and heat until boiling. Reduce heat and simmer until mixture reduces by 25% or to desired thickness, stirring frequently.
- Let cool and freeze in freezer-safe containers. Or, add to sterilized quart jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Add to pressure can at 10 lbs of pressure for 25 minutes, adjusting for altitude as needed. Remove from canner and allow to sit undisturbed for 24 hours.
You can omit the dry red wine if you prefer, however, the wine does add great flavor to the sauce.
Recipe courtesy of Old World Garden Farms
Serving Size:1 quart
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 476Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1720mgCarbohydrates: 95gFiber: 25gSugar: 60gProtein: 19g
Nutritional Information is to be used as a general guideline only . Nutritional calculations will vary from the types and brands of the products used.