DIY Tomato Sauce

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Canning is easier than you think and with the abundance of tomatoes coming out of the garden right now, this recipe will let you savor them all winter.  This sauce can be used in soups and stews, or as pizza and pasta sauce.  It is a great staple for your pantry.

My mom taught me the short cut method to canning, which makes the process a lot easier, but the timing has to be right.  You can also use a traditional water bath.  I will explain both methods.

BASIC TOMATO (MARINARA) SAUCE
Makes 4 pint jars

SUPPLIES
4 pint jars with new lids and rings
Large pot
Skillet
Sauce pan
Strainer
Tongs or other utensil
Cutting Board
Knife

INGREDIENTS
4 lbs fresh tomatoes
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tsp dried basil or 1TBS of fresh basil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp pepper
optional: thyme or other herbs, onions, jalpenos, green peppers, etc.

INSTRUCTIONS

SHORTCUT METHOD || Use the dishwasher on the hottest cycle with heated dry to heat the glass canning jars.  If you are only making this recipe, be sure to fill the rest of your dishwasher with dishes or do more than one recipe and add more jars.  Load the dishwasher with only the jars, no lids.  It is also good to know how long the cycle takes.  My dishwasher takes approximately 40 minutes to run through a cycle.  After the first 10-15 minutes, I start with the instructions below.

1.  Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Add the tomatoes whole (including skins) and blanch for one minute or until their skins begin to curl back a little.  Strain the tomatoes out of the boiling water and dump in cold water immediately.  I usually fill my sink with ice water.  Peel and coursely chop the tomatoes and set aside.  Follow this process until all of your tomatoes are blanched and peeled.  Ensure that your blanching water is always boiling and your refresh water is ice cold.  Add ice as necessary.

2.  In a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and saute the garlic (onions, peppers, etc) for 3 minutes or until softened.  Add the chopped tomatoes and bring to a simmer.  Add all the remaining ingredients and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until thick.  You are simmering out the extra water from the tomatoes.

3.  While the sauce is simmering, bring water to boil in small sauce pan.  This will be be for your lids.

4.  By now, the jars should be done washing and in the heat dry cycle.  Pull one jar out at a time.  Put one lid and ring into the boiling water in the sauce pan.  Pack the hot tomato sauce into the hot jar, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace at the top of the jar.  Wipe around the mouth of the jar with a towel to clean up any excess.  Remove the lid and ring from the boiling water and place the lid on top of the jar, and then screw on the ring, but not too tight.  Set aside on a towel.  Repeat this process until all sauce has been canned.  As the jars cool, the lids will start to pop to secure the vacuum seal.

TRADITIONAL METHOD ||  Follow through with steps 1 and 2.  Skip step 3 and start with sterilized jars, lids and rings at room temperature for step 4.  Bring a fresh pot of water to boil.  Pack the hot tomato sauce into the jar, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace at the top of the jar.  Wipe around the mouth of the jar with a towel to clean up any excess.  Attach the lids and rings and tighten.  Place the filled and sealed jars into the boiling water and let process for 35 minutes.  Carefully remove the jars and place them on a kitchen towel.  As they begin to cool, the lids will pop.

The sauce can be stored in the pantry for up to a year.  One important thing to note:  If the tops of the lids don't pop, they are NOT vacuum sealed.  You'll have to refrigerate any jars that haven't sealed or bacteria will take over.

Enjoy!