Canning a Simple Tomato Sauce

Adapted from Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving

Yield: 4 quart jars (thick sauce)


  • 26 lbs. tomatoes
  • 3 T. olive oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 6 T. lemon juice or 2 t. citric acid
  • Salt (optional)
  • Basil or spices of your choosing


  1. Either peel tomatoes ahead of time or send through a food mill at the end of cooking.
  2. Place the olive oil in a pan large enough to hold all the tomatoes. You may use more than one pan if required. Heat the oil over medium heat, add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes, watching to ensure it doesn’t burn.
  3. Place the tomatoes in the pan, cover and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer with the cover slightly ajar; boil until the sauce is the correct consistency.
  4. Remove sauce from heat. Place either dried or fresh basil in the sauce as well as salt, if using.
  5. Place a rack in the bottom of a boiling-water canner. Add water to the jars and canner until the in the jars and the canner are 2/3rds up the sides of the jars. Heat the water bath to just before boiling. Turn off the heat.
  6. Meanwhile, place the lids, but not the screw band, in a small pan of water and heat, but do not boil.
  7. Remove the jars from the hot water, dumping water from inside the jar into the water bath.
  8. Place 2 T. of lemon juice or 1/2 t. citric acid in each jar. Fill jars with tomato sauce to 1/2 inch below the top of the jar, ensuring there are no air bubbles.
  9. Clean the tops of the jars of any sauce that may have spilled with a cloth to ensure a proper seal. Place heated lid then screw top on each jar; screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip-tight.
  10. Place jars in water bath, ensuring they are completely covered with water – remove any excess water if it spills over. Bring to a rolling boil and process for 40 minutes. Turn off heat, remove cover and let jars sit in the water bath for 5 minutes. Remove jars and let cool.
  11. Once cooled, you should be able to remove the screw band and pick up the jar by the lid without it falling off – this will signal a good seal. Mark the jars with the contents and date. Store the jars in a cool place.