Tomato Sauce

Basic tomato sauce is handy to have on hand to add to pasta sauces, chili, soups or stews. When ready to use this sauce, add any combination of seasonings you desire. For thin sauce, an average of 35 lb (15.8 kg) is needed for seven 1 L jars. For thick sauce, an average of 46 lb (20.8 kg) for seven 1 L jar is required.


  • Tomatoes
  • Bottled lemon juice or citric acid
  • Salt, optional
  • Dried herbs, to taste, optional


  • Place the required number of clean 500 ml or 1 L  mason jars on a rack in a boiling water canner. Cover jars with water and heat to a simmer (180°F/82°C). Set screw bands aside. Keep jars hot until ready to use.
  • Preheating Bernardin® lids is not advised. The sealing compound used for our home canning lids performs better at room temperature than it does pre-heated in simmering water (180°F). Simply wash lids in hot, soapy water, dry, and set aside until needed. Preheating can lead to less vacuum being achieved during water bath canning, and to buckle failures during pressure canning.
  • Wash tomatoes, remove cores and trim off bruised or discoloured portions.
  • Option 1 – Quarter tomatoes and pass through a food mill or Victoria strainer that separates out seeds and skins from tomato pulp and juice.
  • Option 2 -- Quarter 1 lb (500g) tomatoes (about 2 cups/500 ml) and place in a large stainless steel saucepan over high heat. Stir and crush tomatoes until mixture boils rapidly. Then continue to slowly add and crush freshly cut tomato quarters to the boiling mixture. Be sure to maintain a constant, vigorous boil while adding remaining tomatoes. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Press mixture through a fine sieve or food mill to remove seeds and skins.
  • Return 4 cups (1 L) of sieved mixture to large diameter, deep stainless steel saucepan. Bring to a vigorous boil. Add additional tomato mixture 1 cup (250 ml) at a time, maintaining a steady boil. When all of mixture has been returned to pan, continue stirring occasionally and boiling gently until sauce reaches desired consistency. Boil until volume is reduced by about one-third for thin sauce or by one-half for thick sauce.
  • Add quantity of lemon juice or citric acid specified below to each hot mason jar before filling with sauce. If using, add salt and dried herbs to jar prior to filling:  herbs and salt  are optional.
  • Jar size          Lemon juice            or Citric acid                     Salt, optional                  
  • 500 ml           1 tbsp (15 ml)         or 1/4 tsp (1 ml)               1/2 tsp (2 ml)               
  • 1 L                 2 tbsp (30 ml)          or 1/2 tsp (2 ml)               1 tsp (5 ml)                   
  • Ladle hot sauce into a hot jar to within 1/2 inch (1 cm) of top of jar (headspace). Using nonmetallic utensil, remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if required, by adding more sauce. Wipe jar rim removing any food residue. Centre hot sealing disc on clean jar rim. Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip tight. Return filled jar to rack in canner. Repeat for remaining sauce.
  • Cover canner:  bring water to a boil at an altitude up tp 1000ft (305 m), process- boil filled jars according to times below:
  • 500 ml  35 minutes
  • 1 L   40 minutes
  • Remove jars without tilting.  Cool upright, undisturbed 24 hours:  DO NOT RETIGHTEN screw bands.  After cooling check jar seals.  Sealsed lids curved downward.  Remove screw bands:  wipe and dry bands and jars.  Store screw bands separately or replace loosely on jars, as de