Home canned marinara sauce is easier than you think to make and it will give you fresh, preservative-free sauce to use all-year long!

Home Canned Marinara Sauce

Last summer was an epic year for our garden tomatoes. And I do mean EPIC.

We winter-sowed heirloom seeds in February and started planting itty bitty seedlings in late June.  Do you know what happens when you don’t plant itty bitty seedlings until late June and then have an unexpectedly long summer?

You’re picking garden tomatoes at Halloween…in Connecticut. It was both amazing and a bit tiring at the same time.

I mean, by October 1st, I’m all pumpkin-all-the-things but when you come back from a chilly fall week in Maine on October 11th to your canning tomatoes that have only just fully ripened, it’s kind of a shock.

The Best Tomatoes for Canning Marinara Sauce

All in all, we harvested from 8 plants last year which we grew solely for canning tomatoes in addition to 10 Brandywine plants for “eating” tomatoes.

We ended up taking the weekend after our vacation to can about 60 pounds of our Bonny Best variety tomatoes which yielded approximately 6 quarts of whole tomatoes, 2 quarts of crushed tomatoes, and 2 quarts + 5  12-oz jars of marinara sauce.

Home Canned Marinara Sauce

I have to say that the Bonny Best tomatoes we made this sauce with probably weren’t the best variety to use. While they were really delicious tomatoes, they were also watery. It took 4 hours for the sauce to cook down to a consistency I was happy with. I could have probably let the sauce cook for another hour and it would have been even better.

So, tomatoes with a denser flesh would work better for this sauce. Roma or San Marzano would be perfect. Sometimes you can find “paste” tomatoes and these would be fine to use too. Romas typically are easier to find than San Marzano tomatoes in the farmer’s markets and farm stands in the summer.

If you’re going to grow own tomatoes with the intention of canning them, do some research before you purchase plants or seeds. My seed supplier (and most really good suppliers or catalogues) has extensive information available about all of the varieties of seeds they sell (i.e. which tomatoes are better for eating vs. canning), as well as information about how to grow them.

How to Make Marinara for Canning

Anyway! Since we’re still eating through our stash from last fall, we’re still reaping the benefits of that crazy October canning weekend.

Thanks to a safe and effective canning method, this sauce is still just as fresh as the day we canned it. Gotta love canning!

This home canned marinara sauce was super simple to make after you make it through the slightly annoying part of chopping, par-boiling, and skinning the tomatoes.

If you can grab a few extra pairs of hands to help you through that process, it’s smooth sailing after that.

After you skin the tomatoes, you’ll chop them up. Then you’ll saute some onions and garlic on olive oil in a large stock pot. When the onions have softened, add the tomatoes, bring a boil and cook until the tomatoes have also softened.

You’ll then puree the mixture, return it to the pot, and let it cook for at least 4 hours. There’s a lot of liquid you’ll want to cook out of the sauce to help thicken it. Towards the end of the cooking time, you’ll add some chopped basil and parsley.

Add a few glasses of wine to your canning party and you’re ALL SET!

Home Canned Marinara Sauce

How to Store Homemade Canned Marinara Sauce

You’re going to want to store your jars in a cool, dark place. A pantry or cabinet will be fine as long as the temperature can be kept less than 95° F. Exposure to light may cause the food to spoil faster.

Back in the day, many canners used to keep their jarred food on shelves in the basement if they didn’t have pantry space in the kitchen. In some older houses (like, pre-1950), even today you may still come across these spaces and see the dusty shadows of the jars on the storage shelves. It’s pretty cool!

Properly canned sauce will keep for about 1 year.

How to Freeze Marinara Sauce

You can definitely freeze this tomato basil sauce if you don’t want to can it! Canning does take a bit of commitment so if you’re not up to tackling this job or not into canning at all, you can still make this sauce. (Or, I can also highly recommend my other very favorite homemade spaghetti sauce!)

To freeze marinara sauce:

  1. Proceed with making the recipe below through Step 4.
  2. Allow the sauce cool down until it’s still warm to the touch but not hot or cold.
  3. Transfer the sauce to freezer-safe containers or sturdy zip-top bags. Be sure you leave about ½-inch of room at the top of the containers or bags to allow the sauce to expand when it freezes.
  4. Freeze for up to 6 months.

home canned marinara sauce

Recipes To Use Canned Marinara

If you’re looking for some ways you can use up this sauce, other than just pouring it over spaghetti, let me suggest 5 of my favorite easy Italian meals to you:

Home Canned Marinara Sauce

Home Canned Marinara Sauce

Yield: 4 quarts
Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Cook Time: 5 hours
Can Processing Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 7 hours 10 minutes
Home canned marinara sauce is easier than you think to make! Using only fresh summer tomatoes, onions, garlic, basil, and basil, this is a fun project that will give you fresh sauce to use all-year long! The only preservative used in this canning process is some bottled lemon juice so the ingredients are kept to a minimum.

Ingredients

  • 18 pounds paste or roma tomatoes
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh basil
  • ¼ cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley
  • ¾ cup bottled lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Core and roughly chop the tomatoes.
  2. In a large pot heat the olive oil over medium heat and sauté the onion, garlic, and salt until transparent, about 10 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, until the tomatoes have broken down.
  3. Position a food mill or sieve over a large bowl and begin to press the hot tomatoes, onions and garlic through it, stopping to clear out the skins and seeds as needed (discard or compost the skins and seeds). Alternatively, you can run the vegetables through the food processor but this won't remove the skins and seeds.
  4. Return the pressed tomatoes to the pot and simmer the sauce until it is reduced by one-third to one-half. The time for this will vary based on how juicy your tomatoes are - it took 4 hours for our sauce to cook down properly because our tomatoes were very juicy. About half an hour before you're ready to can, stir in the basil and parsley.
  5. At the same time that you add the herbs, prepare a water bath and submerge 4 quart jars in the water and boil for 10 minutes. Place lids in a small saucepan over very low heat to gently simmer while you prepare the tomatoes.
  6. Take your prepared jars from the boiling water (of course, dumping the water back into the canning pot before proceeding) and add 3 tablespoons of bottled lemon juice to the bottom of each jar. Using a large ladle, transfer the hot tomato sauce into the jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace between the top of the sauce and the rim of the jar.
  7. Wipe the rims with a clean kitchen towel, add lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath for 40 minutes. For smaller jars, reduce the processing time by 5 minutes.
  8. Transfer the processed jars to a clean towel and allow the jars to sit untouched at room temperature for 24 hours before checking the lids for a seal and storing for up to 1 year. If any lids have not sealed, as evidenced by that characteristic "pop", put the unsealed jars in the refrigerator immediately and use the sauce within 1 week.

Notes

adapted from Simple Bites

we love to see what you make!

tag what you make with #smellslikehomeblog on Instagram and follow along with me in my New England kitchen!

@smellslikehomeblog
  • Kayle (The Cooking Actress)
    August 21, 2014 at 9:42 PM

    whoa! that is a lot of tomatoes! amazing-such a great idea to use ’em to make marinara and then can it!

    • August 22, 2014 at 9:49 AM

      Oh yeah – it was like a never-ending supply!

  • September 11, 2014 at 9:44 AM

    It depends on what tools you have. I used a food mill to separate the tomato from the peel but if you don’t have this tool, yes, peel them first before cooking down.

  • Rebekah
    August 2, 2017 at 12:11 PM

    I love this recipe! I have made several batches this summer and last summer. Each one turns out perfectly! Thank you for sharing

    • Tara
      September 9, 2017 at 10:24 AM

      So awesome to hear! Thank you so much for coming back to let me know, Rebekah!!

  • Valeriane
    September 16, 2017 at 5:36 PM

    Hi Tara! I do not see lemon juice in your recipe. Was that left out? I would love to use your recipe but wanted to be sure it was correct for acidity/ avoiding botulism purposes.

    • Tara
      September 17, 2017 at 6:35 PM

      Hi Valeriane! I’m so sorry for this oversight! I just updated the recipe. You’ll need 3 tablespoons of bottled lemon juice for each quart jar you use. So the full recipe would need 3/4 cup bottled lemon juice. Thanks for bringing this up!!

  • Jessica
    August 6, 2018 at 7:17 PM

    My sauce came out a little thin in the end. What can I do to thicken it up for recipies?

    • Tara
      August 10, 2018 at 10:00 AM

      Yep, this sauce is a little thin. You can cook it down a little in a saute pan to allow some of the water to cook out when you need it for a recipe.

  • Nancy
    September 2, 2018 at 6:48 PM

    I don’t have that many roma tomatoes, can I use regular ones and let the sauce cook down?

    • Tara
      September 7, 2018 at 9:06 AM

      Tomatoes are a tricky thing. Some varieties are really juicy and others are a little “meatier.” Roma tomatoes are a little “meatier” which is why they are great for sauces. There are other varieties that work well in sauces too and I would advise against using regular tomatoes for this sauce. Even with the Roma tomatoes, this sauce turns out a little thin.

  • Kelly
    September 25, 2018 at 7:40 PM

    Great tasting sauce, exactly like the sauce I had in Italy. I did cook my sauce down about half way which was close to the Italian sauce that I had. Unfortunately I ended up with only 2 1/2 quarts. It took most of the day for those who are wondering. I will definitely have to make homemade pasta to go along with it.

    • Tara
      October 9, 2018 at 8:34 AM

      Glad you like the sauce so much, Kelly! And yes, it is a bit watery so cooking it down is necessary.

Leave a Comment

You Might Also Like:
Divider