A wonderfully flavored canned roasted tomato sauce that is safe to preserve in a boiling-water canner to be shelf stable. Having jars of this sauce in your pantry makes amazingly easy weeknight dinners that also makes any day remind you of summer!
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I'm super happy to be able to finally share this canned roasted tomato sauce that's safe for boiling water bath canning with you!
I have been searching for awhile for a recipe to safely water-bath can roasted tomato sauce, similar to our family's favorite Roasted Tomato & Vegetable Sauce for Freezing, mainly for the convenience of having jars in the pantry ready to go for weeknight dinners.
And this is a keeper for sure, taking a tested recipe and then adding the roasting step for the vegetables. It's SO good!
Be Safe With Canning Tomato Sauce
I do want to caution that you've got to be careful when searching the internet for recipes for canned tomato sauce. I found quite a few "recipes" that didn't list any specific amounts ("fill a pan with tomatoes, throw in a good handful of ______," etc.) and then gave instructions for water-bath canning with the addition of citric acid.
Recipes like this are NOT considered safe by the USDA - adding citric acid to a concoction that is full of low-acid ingredients (olive oil, onions, garlic, fresh herbs and sometimes peppers), does not make it shelf-stable with boiling-water canning, especially when they're not even measured amounts (see this article for more information).
I know that people have canned this way for years, but in my opinion, it's just food and never worth even a possibility of sickness. (Note: there's a little more flexibility with sauces canned using a pressure canner, but it's still recommended that you use a tested recipe.)
Is This Canned Tomato Sauce Safe?
Okay, off my soapbox! After all that searching, are you wondering how I came up with this boiling water safe canned roasted sauce?
Good for you for questioning - we should definitely educate ourselves when it comes to feeding our families.
Here's the deal: I searched and searched and couldn't find any roasted tomato sauce recipe that was safe for canning tomato sauce in a water bath canner.
But then I wondered why I couldn't just take the tomato sauce recipe from the Ball Blue Book that I've canned many times and instead of boiling the tomatoes, roasted them instead? All the measured ingredients would be the same, only the cooking method would change.
This sounded like the solution to me, but to make sure I called the preservation hotline from our extension agency (Oregon State where I live) and asked them if they thought it would be okay. I told them I'd be sharing it with my site's readers - and they okayed the new cooking method!
They just cautioned me to keep all the other low-acid ingredients the same and to be sure to include the addition of citric acid or lemon juice. Which I did, of course.
And guess what? Roasting the tomatoes worked wonderfully and gave this sauce that lovely flavor that our favorite freezer sauce has.
This is the sauce I'd been looking for!
How to Make Canned Roasted Tomato Sauce
Besides enhancing the flavor, one of the other reasons I like to roast tomatoes for sauces is because I can skip the boiling-water-peeling step since it's easy to just pluck the darkened skins off after roasting.
So even though it took 2 batches of roasting for this amount of sauce (I can only fit the three pans shown above in my oven at one time), it still took less time and work.
NOTE: Removing the skins is specified in the original recipe, so that's what I do, but I leave skins on my favorite salsa and addictive tomato chutney, so you might choose to leave them on here. I haven't found research to say it will affect the acid ratio. Just be sure your tomatoes are really clean.
So basically we're skipping the peeling and initial cooking part and replacing that with pans of roasted ingredients.
After your ingredients are roasted, though, you do still need to bring it to a boil so it's nice and hot for canning.
So after roasting, transfer everything into a large stockpot (TIP: this actually makes it easy to roast more pans to finish the full recipe - the first batch can wait in the pot for the second batch to roast).
When everything is roasted, I like to use my workhorse immersion blender to make a smooth sauce, but you can do it in batches with a blender or food processor, too - it's just messier.
After all the ingredients are in a large stock pot and blended, bring the sauce to a boil again and then transfer it to jars to can, adding citric acid or lemon juice into each jar before adding the sauce. (Full amounts and directions are in the recipe card below.)
Tools I use For this Recipe
- Food Scale
- Immersion Blender
- Stainless Steel Boiling Water Canner
- Stainless Steel Canning Funnel
- Stainless Steel Ladle
- Pint Mason Jars and Lids
A note on tomato seeds: we don't mind seeds in the sauce and I do squeeze out quite a few when I'm prepping the tomatoes for roasting, but if you'd prefer a seedless sauce, you can strain the sauce after you've whirred it up - it's up to you.
Need review of how to can? Here's a video on the simple steps for boiling water canning if you need:
Or you can go to this article and read the steps with photos.
NOTE: I should mention that I took the in-process photos above before I realized that I should add the other ingredients to the roasting pans first and then place the tomatoes on top of them.
This makes it easier to pluck the skins off without losing any of the spices or other ingredients. Just in case you are, like, "hey that's not what's in the picture." Gotta keep you all on your toes!
I hope you enjoy this as much as we do!
I have gotten quite a few questions over the years after publishing this recipe and thought I'd list some of them in case you have some of the same questions.
Yes! I've done this and it's perfectly fine since you'll heat the tomato sauce before adding to the jars.
No, unfortunately peppers are a low acid vegetable so it would mess with the ratios that make this safe for canning.
You can add dried chili flakes, but no fresh chilis (or other fresh ingredients).
Adding fresh low-acid ingredients like this would make this sauce no longer considered safe for canning ( it alters the acid ratio from the tested recipe). You can always add them when you're going to use it.
Even though they seem less acidic and more sweet, according to this article it seems like you can use yellow tomatoes the same as red, following all the same guidelines (adding lemon juice or citric acid).
Yes! It's best to have the weight of the tomatoes before freezing (weigh and write on outside of freezer bag), though you can weigh when frozen, too. (I used to think they weighed more frozen, but have read that they actually don't.)
Unfortunately, it's not safe to add tomato paste unless the recipe has been tested for it since it thickens the sauce which may affect the amount of time needed for processing.
When I've had sauce that wouldn't thicken (well, in the amount of time I had, lol), I will note on the lid to add tomato paste when heating it.
Yes, you can add as much as you want as sugar is just for taste and wouldn't affect the acid ratio.
Yes, you can use the tomatoes! There might be a slight reduction of quality (every time produce is canned, the quality goes down some), but it's perfectly safe.
No, it's not safe to use fresh lemon juice and boiling wouldn't help. It's because fresh lemons vary in acidity and bottled is uniform. That's why I choose to use citric acid - I don't like the preservatives in bottled lemon juice (though you can use the frozen variety if you can find it to avoid that).
Fresh herbs are low acid and affect the tested ratio. If a recipe isn't tested for pressure canning then I can't recommend it. I'd probably find a pressure canned recipe to make with correct pressure needed for the jar size and sauce.
They also don't really hold their flavor after being boiled and canned (and some even get bitter) - dried are much better for that. There aren't too many recipes tested with fresh herbs for these reasons.
The salt is for flavor only so you can lessen or leave it out without affecting the product safety.
Yes! Though your yield may be affected - I'd think you'd get more since pureeing concentrates sauces more.
What Others Are Saying
"This was delicious! I've canned quite a few tomato sauce recipes over the years, but this was the easiest and best I've tried." - Laurie
"It was all I could do from pouring bunch in a soup bowl and diving in. Fabulous flavor." -Diane
"This is SO delicious! We use the resulting sauce to make a sort of instant tomato soup - add broth, maybe some cream, simmer a few minutes and have a bowl of summer to enjoy." -Cathleen
"Great recipe, I have been canning for years, and found this to be an excellent and flavorful recipe. Major upside, it kept my kitchen much cleaner than when blanching to remove peels, and seem to waste a lot less "juice". It will also make your kitchen smell a bit like heaven!" -Dawn
Other Canned Recipes With Tomatoes To Try
- The Best Thick and Flavorful Salsa for Canning
- Canned Green Chilies & Tomatoes (aka, Rotel)
- Canned Pizza Sauce (from frozen tomatoes)
- Addictive Tomato Chutney
Water-Bath Safe Canned Roasted Tomato Sauce
- 23 pounds tomatoes a variety of paste, heirloom and cutting provides the best flavor & consistency
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar optional, but adds amazing flavor
- 3 cups chopped onions
- 6 medium cloves garlic chopped**
- 2 tablespoons canning salt
- 1 tablespoons dried oregano***
- 1 tablespoons dried basil***
- 2 teaspoons black pepper
- 1 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes optional, but we love it
- Citric acid or bottled lemon juice amounts needed for different size jars below
- Heat oven to 425 degrees. Halving all ingredients to work in two batches, divide olive oil, balsamic vinegar (if using), onions, garlic, and dry seasonings between 2 or 3 roasting pans (what you have that will fit in your oven).
- Wash tomatoes, remove cores and blossom ends, cut in half and squeeze gently to remove some of the seeds. Place tomatoes, cut side down, on top of ingredients in prepared pans.
- Roast for about 40 minutes, turning once, until most of the tomato skins are puffed and browned. Remove from oven and pluck skins off with tongs (it's okay not to get every bit).
- Scrape roasted vegetables into a large stockpot, set aside and repeat the prep and roasting with remaining half of ingredients (unless you are making just a half batch - then just proceed to next step).
- Using an immersion blender, whir roasted ingredients until smooth (alternately, you can scrape from the roasting pans into a blender in batches and then add to the stockpot). If you'd like to strain to remove seeds, now is the time for that, too, using a wire mesh sieve.
- Bring smooth sauce to a boil over med-high heat, lower heat and then simmer sauce until it reaches desired consistency, stirring often, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. You can adjust salt or dry seasonings to taste at this point if you wish.
- Prepare a water-bath canner, jars, and lids.
- Adding 1/4 teaspoon citric acid to pints (1/2 teaspoon to quarts) OR 1 tablespoon lemon bottled juice to pints (2 tablespoons for quarts), ladle the hot tomato sauce into hot jars, one at a time with 1/2-inch headspace. Wipe rims, attach lids and place in canner rack.
- Process 35 minutes for pints and 40 minutes for quarts (if processing both pints and quarts together, use the longer processing time). Note: start the processing time after canner comes to a full boil and then adjust heat to keep a low boil for the timed amount.
- Turn off burner, remove lid and set timer for 5 minutes to let jars rest in canner. Transfer jars from canner to a towel-lined surface and let cool 24 hours. Check seals, label & store for up to a year.
Note for those just learning to can: click here for a step-by-step tutorial on water-bath canning.
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