Tomato Basil Marinara Sauce
This simple and flavorful tomato basil marinara sauce made with fresh tomatoes and plenty of herbs is the best way to enjoy the taste of summer all year long.
- 12 lbs fresh tomatoes (5.5 kg), preferably Roma
- 3 tablespoons packed light or dark brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons coarse salt
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves , chopped
- 1 cup packed assorted fresh herbs (such as oregano, thyme and rosemary), chopped
- 6 tablespoons bottled lemon juice
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Prepare a large bowl with ice and water.
With a paring knife, score a small "x" in the bottom of each tomato. Working in small batches, dip the tomatoes in boiling water for about 30 seconds, or until the flesh at the corners of the "x" appears to loosen. Immediately plunge tomatoes in the ice water.
Beginning with the loose flesh at the "x", peel each tomato. Then cut tomatoes into quarters and squeeze out seeds and juice. Reserve skins and juice with seeds (see Step 5), set aside. Use a food processor to chop tomatoes as desired, leave them chunky or pulse until almost smooth. You can also use a knife to chop tomatoes into rough 1-inch pieces.
Place chopped tomatoes in a large heavy-bottomed pot, and add the brown sugar, salt, balsamic vinegar, and black pepper. Bring to a boil, and then cook for 70-90 minutes until reduced and thickened.
(Optional step) Bring tomato skins and juice with seeds to a boil in a large saucepan. Simmer for about 30 minutes until juices have thickened. Pass mixture through a fine mesh strainer, pressing on solids to remove all liquid. Then pour strained mixture into the large pot with the rest of the sauce as it simmers and proceed.
Remove from heat and add chopped basil and other herbs.
Water bath canning: Put 1 tablespoon of lemon juice in each of 6 sterilized pint jars, and then ladle in marinara sauce, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Wipe rims clean and then add sterilized lids and rings.Process in a water bath for 35 minutes. Remove from water bath and let cool to room temperature. Ensure lids are sealed (the center of each lid should not bounce back when pressed) and store in a cool dark place like a pantry for up to 1 year. Once opened, store in the fridge and use within 1 week.
Freezer storage: Let sauce cool to room temperature then ladle into plastic containers or zip-top freezer bags. Freeze for up to 4 months.
Source: adapted from Better Homes and Garden Canning Magazine 2014.
- For help with canning basics, check out my post on home canning tips and resources.
- Bottled lemon juice has a consistent pH level and is preferred for canning. Do not use freshly squeezed lemon juice.
- Step #5 is completely optional, but it will increase the amount of your sauce by a few cups and I like that there's less waste. If you prefer to skip this extra step, simply discard the peels and seeds.
Calories: 200kcal, Carbohydrates: 44g, Protein: 8g, Fat: 2g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 2375mg, Potassium: 2227mg, Fiber: 12g, Sugar: 30g, Vitamin A: 8110IU, Vitamin C: 133mg, Calcium: 124mg, Iron: 3mg