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Kalyn's Kitchen

How to Make and Freeze Tomato Sauce (The Green Blog Project)

I was completely captivated about the idea behind The Green Blog Project when I first heard about it. It was the brainchild of LG from Ginger and Mango that every food blogger should try to grow some kind of food themselves, and then post about what kind of dish they made from it on their blog.

I had written about the Green Blog Project for Blogher clear back in June when my garden was little more than a few sprouts. Now that the garden is bursting with produce, I was afraid I had missed the deadline. I’ve posted about so many recipes using garden produce and I haven’t sent even one to the Green Blog Project.

But when I went back to Ginger and Mango to check, I was happy to see that the deadline has been extended to September 25. (There’s also another deadline for those in the Southern Hemisphere in March.) If you have a garden or even a pot of tomatoes on the deck, there’s still time to post about what you made from the food you grew yourself and send it to The Green Blog Project!

A lot of people are into canning tomato sauce, but I’ve been able to successfully avoid the home canning impulse for quite a few years now, even though most of my family has that gene. I prefer the flavor of frozen tomatoes to canned, and always freeze slow roasted tomatoes and Sausage and Basil Marinara Sauce every year which I make from garden tomatoes. The recipe I’m posting here is for the sauce that I make when I’ve made roasted tomatoes, marinara sauce, and eaten fresh tomatoes by the handfuls and the garden is still producing tomatoes! It’s nothing more than plain tomato sauce, but oh what flavor when you make the sauce yourself from tomatoes still warm from the sun and picked the day you make the sauce.

The most inspiring thing about my recipe is the flash of brilliance I had when I realized that you don’t have to peel the tomatoes. You can put them in a food processor and puree everything, and then when you cook them the peeling disintegrates into the sauce for brighter tomato color and more flavor. This method will produce a rather rustic tomato sauce which still has the seeds. You can always use a food mill to remove seeds when you defrost the sauce if you’re making something where you want a more pure type of sauce. Read more about that below.

“Just Tomatoes” Sauce for the Freezer

It’s important to use tomatoes that are well-ripened and it’s best to pick them the day you make the sauce if that’s an option. I’d estimate that it takes about 6-8 large tomatoes to make a cup of sauce, but make as much as you can because this tastes wonderful in the winter when you’re dying for the flavor of fresh tomatoes.

Put tomatoes in the sink and rinse well with cold water. Cut out stem area and discard. Cut each tomato into pieces about 1 inch square. (Don’t make the pieces too large or the tomatoes won’t puree easily.)

Using the food processor with the steel blade, puree diced tomatoes in batches and add to large heavy stock pot. The puree should be nearly all liquidized when you add it to the pot.

Turn the heat as low as you can get it and cook the mixture until it is reduced by at least one half and as thick as you want it. I usually cook my sauce at least 6-8 hours to condense it down to the thickness I want. Your house will smell delightfully tomato-like while you cook this. I like to use a rubber scraper to scrape off the caramelized tomato that sticks to the side of the pot as the level decreases and do that about once every half hour.

When sauce is condensed and thick, put into individual plastic containers and let cool on the counter for an hour or so. When sauce is cooled, snap on plastic lids and freeze. This will last for at least a year in the freezer.

When you’re using the sauce, if you want a more pure tomato sauce that doesn’t have any seeds you can put it through the food mill after it’s thawed. Freezing the sauce this way with no added seasonings at all creates endless possibilities for using it. Add garlic, oregano, basil, or any other seasonings you want when you use the sauce to create soups, stews, pasta sauces, or other dishes this winter.

Tomorrow I’ll be posting about something with the taste of pure summer that I created with a bit of my “just tomatoes” sauce.

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91 comments on “How to Make and Freeze Tomato Sauce (The Green Blog Project)”

  1. Can you freeze it in a glass jar?

    • I don't think I would because it's hard to predict how much the sauce will expand when it freezes and you don't want broken glass in your freezer. If you have frozen similar things it might work, but I don't have any experience with that.

  2. I used to take tomato sauce with bread in morning breakfast. Therefore, I will definitely try this yummy sauce recipe. Thanks for this nice sharing.

  3. Try putting up your tomatoes this way ! I take my fresh picked tomatoes, core and rinse. throw the whole tomato in the freezer for about 24 hours to a hard freeze..Rinse under hot water, the skin falls off, and throw the frozen balls in a large pot and simmer down..(I use a 23 quart pot)..no need to chop the tomato, they macerate down to a perfect sauce consistency..add your onion garlic, herbs, freeze in plastic containers, pop out when frozen and vacuum seal..I put up an average of 20 gallons each summer..I plant around 40 plants each year ~

  4. Bernadette, glad that worked well for you!

  5. So I tried the idea of putting the pureed tomatoes into the tea container and let them set overnight. I woke up to a layer about 2-inches thick of "water" that I just drained out. Great idea … thanks for the recipe and the site. Love the no-heat lunch ideas too.

  6. Just came across this and am making the tomato sauce as I write this, have much more to do. Will be a busy week. I am freezing in 1 pint jars this year. See how that turns out. Thanks for the recipe.

  7. Paul, it's interesting how we end up doing so many things like our parents did them, isn't it?

  8. What a great blog! My mother used to do this, and recently, that gene has surfaced in me. Dad also grew a ton of basil, so mom would toss a bunch in the blender, and puree' with olive oil, pour into ice cube trays and freeze. After it was frozen, she quickly transferred to a freezer baggie. In winter, she would float a cube or two on her sauce. She did the same with Sage, and other herbs.

    My sister puts a whole peeled carrot into her sauce when she cooks. The sugars sweeten the sauce. She simply pulls it out out before serving or freezing.

    Now, I am hungry….

  9. I am making this as we speak. Virtually every receipe I looked at online was for "spaghetti" sauce and I wanted plain ole tomatoe sauce.

  10. So glad you enjoyed the sauce! The blog is still going strong; no plans to quit.

  11. Thank you for such a wonderful recipe! My good friend gave me a huge box of tomatoes that she picked this morning and I spent the afternoon cutting, squeezing out seeds (it really does work!), pureeing and prepping and I am about to pour my beautiful red sauce into jars to cool. I was inspired to make my own sauce from scratch after going to an Italian restaurant that makes everything fresh. Now I will have a nice batch in the freezer to use whenever I want. In case you are interested, my friend gave me regular tomatoes, Romas and Pear tomatoes and I used them all together and it tastes great!
    Thanks, again! I look forward to checking out more of your blog and I hope this post keeps going for another 6 years!

  12. Nozzleram and Regena, so glad it was helpful for you. Love the idea of using a slow cooker to simmer the sauce!

  13. Hi Kaylyn,

    Your blog is one of my go-to blogs for cooking healthy and delicious food. So it was a no-brainer to check here first when I was trying to figure out what to with my bumper crop tomatoes this year. I read this recipe, and found the answers to every one of my questions in your replies to comments, and today I finished my first batch of this tomato sauce.

    I followed Lauri'e suggestion of halving the tomatoes and giving them a gentle squeeze over the sink – this gets rid of most of the seeds. I then gave them a rough chop and processed in my Vita Mixer for about 30 seconds. I cooked about 5 quarts of the pureed tomatoes in my slow cooker overnight on High. In the morning before I left for work, I put the crockpot in the refrigerator. After work, I simmered the sauce for a couple of hours. It didn't reduce as much as I wanted, so I put it back in the fridge and finished it up the next day. The yield was just under 8 cups of nice thick sauce. It was a little bitter, so I'll add sugar when I use the sauce in other recipes.

    Thanks again for being such a great resource!

  14. I am so excited I found your blog! My father-in-law has a huge garden and cans, but I like frozen for the ease. This is the first time I have tried my hand at keeping veggies, and started by blanching and freezing his amazing green beans, then tried my had at refrigerator dill pickles. Success 2 times!

    So, with these under my belt, I tried your recipe today. Unfortunately, my food processor is headed to the garbage, so I improvised like any good cook. I used my smoothie blender. I threw in quarters, and the result was a tomato daiquiri. But once the stock pot heated up, the sauce was beautiful. It's cooking away now, but I just had to say thank you for such a simple solution to a bountiful harvest.

  15. No, you don't cover the pot when you're cooking the sauce. You want the liquid to evaporate to thicken the sauce.

  16. Go you keep the pot covered when you slow cook them?

  17. Thank you for the recipe! I was not looking forward to canning. I have a vacuum sealer I think I will use for small patches of sauce. I use tomato sauce for many things and pre spicing would limit the use. I planted many varieties and will mix whatever is ripe in the sauce. I Am planning to use the cut and squeeze method before the food processor. I want to save the juice and use it too!

  18. I did go get some Rubbermaid air tight containers and some "freezer" gallon and quart bags. Now I will start freezing this weekend…wish me luck!

  19. Jolene, my favorite thing to label things for the freeze is regular adhesive tape (sold by first aid products; "in store brand" is fine.) I write on it with a sharpie, peels right off.

    I would try google for a freezing chart; I haven't seen anything like that.

  20. Thanks for those containers! I am going out shopping tomorrow to pick up some. I just have a few more freezer questions I hope you don't mind answering. Are there any specific labels you use to label the containers? Or do you just use paper and tape? I know some stickers are so hard to get off. Where can I find a chart of how long to freeze things? It seems like everything has different times that they can last in the freezer.

  21. Jolene, it's always good if the containers say freezer proof, but what's most important is that they are air-tight. I'm a fan of these Ziploc Twist-n-Loc Containers.

  22. I wasn't sure where to ask this question sorry. I have been reading alot of the posts about freezing things (which is SO NEW TO ME) and I am just a little confused on the "containers" that you use. I don't mean to sound silly, but do the containers that you use to freeze your soup, tomato sauce, herbs, etc need to say that they are "freeze proof"? Are some brands better than others? I have tried freezer some things but they ALWAYS end up with ice all over them…is that normal?

  23. Phylbean, hope you enjoy the sauce. My friend Lydia recently made Slow Roasted Green Tomatoes and I'm going to try that this year.

  24. Hi. Just noticed this conversation has been going on now for more than 5 years! wow.

    So I am staring at large bowls of tomatoes and looking forward to trying your cook and freeze method.

    My question is what to do with the massive amounts of Green tomatoes.

    I've made green tomato relish which is great, and combined with my tomatillas, made salsa (yum), and combined with hot peppers made green hot sauce (yow)…

    But, still seeking additional simple green tomato advice.
    ciao.
    Phyl

  25. Laurie, good idea to squeeze out some of the seeds over the sink! I will try that. And I agree, this has never tasted bitter to me.

  26. Hi Kalyn,
    I just discovered your foodblog and I love it! Like you, I have also avoided canning tomatoes for years and was thrilled to find that I am not the only one that makes tomato sauce with skins and seeds and freezes it. I thought I invented it and always felt that maybe I was doing something wrong because I had heard that the sauce would be bitter. Was my taster off? Are we used to bitter sauce? I'm happy to hear that your sauce isn't bitter either.
    Like you, I chop the tomatoes, whirl in the food processor and then cook down. The only difference is that I work next to the kitchen sink and first I halve the tomatoes and give them a squeeze over the sink. This removes alot of the seeds and extra watery juice and reduces cooking time. Then I give them a chop and throw them in the food processor. Thanks Kaylyn!

  27. Karen I haven't had that problem before. I would probably freeze it like it is. You can always add sugar and/or spices when you use the sauce.

  28. This recipe was exactly what I was looking for. We made two HUGE pots yesterday and after 8 hours on low they weren't thick… so I cooled them, put them in the fridge and started them again this morning. The two pots are finally down by half, and they look beautiful, but the sauce tastes very bitter. I had a lot of seeds… I could add sugar I guess, or just freeze it and cross my fingers… any words of wisdom?

  29. I just ran across this blog and sounds just like what I was looking for. I'll give it a try and see how it goes. Thanks!

  30. Lynn, that sounds like fun!

  31. September 2011 and still going! I am excited to find your blog as I am watching my neighbor's garden while they are gone. Their tomatoes are ripening fast and I don't want to lose them.

    We plan a sauce cook off for when they return!

    Thanks so much,
    Lynn

  32. That could be a good option for people who don't like the seeds and peels in the sauce, but I kind of like the more intense color and thickness they add.

  33. I don't know if this has already been metioned, but there is a prodcut called the Vitorio Strainer and it peels and seeds the tomatoes, leaving only the meat in a turn of the handle.

  34. There's no reason you can't add already cooked sauce back to the pot and reduce it more, so try that if you want a stronger flavor. Glad it's working for you.

  35. Thanks. It only took about 6 hours so I had time to get both finished.

    I still have a bunch to do tomorrow. I'm wondering if it would give a better/more intense flavor adding more to the same pots and letting it reduce again.

    Oh and grape/cherry tomatoes worked just fine and produced almost 2x the sauce in a smaller pot.

  36. The sauce is done when it reaches the thickness you want. I can't think of any reason you couldn't refrigerate and cook down more the next day, but you could also do that after it's been frozen if it was easier.

  37. Making 2 pots of this right now but have a couple of questions. How do you know when the sauce is done? Also if you run out of time can your refrigerate and resume cooking the next day?

  38. Anonymous, definitely. I always freeze this Sausage and Basil Marinara Sauce.

  39. Can you freeze it with garlic etc in it?

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