cooking · Gardening · Preserving

Handcrafted Marinara Sauce

I won’t lie, making pasta sauce from scratch to can is time-consuming. It’ll have you wondering why you are standing there, sweating…when you could just drive to the store and buy it. Right? But….it is worth it. You know what goes into it. No thickeners, no stabilizers, no gums. No preservatives. Canned in glass jars, Ball lids are BPA free now as well. But most of all, it is the flavor! Store bought will never be this good. And if you grew the produce, even better.


Marinara Sauce


  • 12 pound ripe tomatoes
  • 3 Tbsp packed brown sugar
  • 4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups lightly packed fresh basil leaves, torn
  • 1 Tbsp red pepper flakes (optional, can use less as well)
  • 6 to 7 Tbsp lemon juice, bottled only


Bring a large pot of water to boil. Rinse tomatoes well, score an “x” in the bottom of each one. Fill a basin or bowl with ice water, set aside. Once water is boiling, add in a few tomatoes, let simmer for 1-4 minutes, until the skins start blistering. If your tomatoes are super ripe, go for 1 minute, lesser ripe, go up to 4 minutes. Remove from water, put into ice water. Repeat till done.

Once tomatoes have cooled enough to handle, slip off skins. Some you might need a paring knife to encourage. Trim tops of tomatoes and  core, discarding. Chop up tomatoes, placing in a large bowl with any juices. Discard boiling water.

Add tomatoes and juices to a large pot, along with brown sugar, salt, vinegar, and black pepper. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to medium, simmer uncovered for 70 minutes, stirring often.

If your tomatoes are still quite chunky, use an immersion blender to pulse them.

Take off heat stir in basil and red pepper flakes.

Meanwhile, bring a large canning pot half full of water to a boil. Add in 6 to 7 pint mason jars while doing this to sterilize them. Sterilize a ladle, funnel and chopsticks or similar, for removing air bubbles (dip them into boiling water). Lay out a clean kitchen towel, place drained jars on it.

Place 1 Tbsp lemon juice into each jar, ladle in hot sauce, leaving a ½” headspace. Run a chopstick or air bubble removing tool inside each jar. Add more sauce if needed. Wipe off rims with a new, dampened, paper towel. Place a new canning lid on, screw a band on finger tight.

Place the jars in canner, lower into water, put on lid. Bring back to a boil, then process for 35 minutes (start timer after it returns to a boil). Take off heat, remove jars and place on a cooling rack covered with a clean towel. Let cool fully, checking that the lids stay flat. If any pop up, place in refrigerator, use within a couple of days.

Store for up to a year in a cool area.

Makes 6 to 7 pints (I canned 6, saved the 7th for a fresh dinner that night)

6 thoughts on “Handcrafted Marinara Sauce

  1. Yum! My mom always made homemade pasta sauce. Though she never canned it. In the fall my dad would can like 40 quarts of tomatoes, though, so he’d do the whole skinning thing. Then my mom would use those to make small batches of pasta sauce year round. This looks more efficient, though, to have on hand when you need dinner NOW. I have a question – why can you only use bottled lemon juice?

    1. Bottled lemon juice has a standard acidity, just like how white and apple cider vinegar do. With fresh squeezed it could be more or less, and the lemon juice helps preserve the food 🙂

  2. This is my first year growing a garden & canning; I canned A LOT! This recipe was my was my ultimate goal for the season as I had difficulty having enough tomatoes at one time.
    This is a fabulous recipe & will be what I base my garden plans on for next year; twice as many tomato & basil plants so I can have much, much more sauce for winter.

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