this post is about the most efficient way I have found to make marinara using the whole tomato – eat fresh, freeze, or can for later
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This is only my second year growing and preserving tomatoes.
I don’t necessarily love to eat them plain, but I do LOVE tomato sauces and condiments. Especially a good marinara that can be used in pasta, for dipping, or on pizza. Why make a ton of variations when you can have one signature sauce that does all the things?
However – almost all traditional canned tomato sauces require removing the skins and juice. Which takes FOREVER. It’s really messy. And kind of frustrating. Because you start with 50 lbs of fresh tomatoes and end up with just a few quarts of sauce to show for all your work. Which, in my house would be gone after making one big batch of spaghetti. So not worth my time.
I honestly considered just freezing all of my tomatoes this year.
BUT THEN. I came across this recipe from Quinn at Reformation Acres and knew I must give canned marinara one more shot. Because it is so handy to have jars of ready-to-go tomato sauce on hand. This recipe doesn’t require any peeling or juicing of the tomatoes. Yep. Sounds impossible, I know. But you just dice up the whole tomato and you are ready to go.
It has not disappointed in the flavor arena as well. It’s delicious, I’ve used it to cook for my family and made spaghetti for a big group of moms and at least 16 kids, with 100% approval ratings. I’ll take that! My pantry shelves are now lined with this pretty, versatile marinara that didn’t make me lose my mind in the process of making it.
I’ll get to the recipe next – but first, I’ll talk about some concerns you may have if you’re an OG canner and think this sounds impossible!
Questions about this mystical marinara
- How is it not watery and too thin
The carrots. The secret ingredient. They thicken the sauce up without altering the flavor and add nutrition in the process. Do NOT skip the carrots or you will end up with tomato juice. I will admit, this marinara is slightly thinner than most. But you can thicken it up with tomato powder if that really bothers you, or cook it down after you puree. I prefer this consistency because I can thicken it as needed, but I never have to water it down and sacrifice flavor.
- Is it safe to can this recipe?
It’s not tested or USDA approved and so I can’t officially recommend you can this one. I do though! I simply pressure can it rather than water bath. It’s up to you. There are a lot of methods that are used and preferred around the world safely but just not approved yet in the US. For example, most of Europe cans using Weck jars and they consider it healthier because only glass touches the food. I would LOVE to switch to all Weck, but they are expensive. Someday. They haven’t been tested according to USDA standards so I can’t technically recommend canning in Weck jars as a US blogger. I hope this makes sense.
Ok, let’s get to the sauce
This is why you came here and now that I have rambled about deep thoughts and truths like I always do – the sauce. In short, this sauce is made by cutting up the involved produce, putting it in a crock pot or big dutch oven, slow cooking it, blending it into a sauce consistency, and then either eating or preserving it. No peeling, no juicing, no big mess, and a TON more yield in sauce.
Oh, and the secret ingredient (if you didn’t read in the question section above) to make it thick and not runny – carrots. A pound of them. And don’t worry, you can’t even taste them. They just act to thicken the sauce to the proper consistency. And add nutrition in the process. WIN.
First step – rough chop tomatoes
Next up – rough chop the rest of your stuff, like onions and carrots
I use my reject ugly carrots from the garden for my marinara. I did find that the batches with purple carrots were much, much darker in color which was fun.
Ah, garlic. When a recipe calls for 4 cloves, I add 12. Am I rite?
Garlic is so easy to grow and its a fall crop. Stick some cloves in the ground in September, do nothing over winter, harvest a huge garlic crop the following summer. I like it.
Rough chop this too, it doesn’t need to be super fine because your sauce is getting blended when it’s finished cooking, anyway.
Like this, will do.
And then everything just goes into a big stock pot, dutch oven, or crock pot. Your choice. Either way, the point is to simmer it on low for several hours.
When I’m doing stuff in the kitchen that takes a while, I usually always make a big batch of bread. Might as well, I figure. Even if I don’t need it at the time I can freeze it for a time that I do in the future. Bread is a really good thing to have in the freezer. Even on my craziest days if I have some peanut butter and bread in the freezer I manage to feed the kids something not totally repulsive. You know the days I’m talking about!
Ok, this ingredient is not one to skip because it really adds to the flavor. You can just use cheap red wine, or whatever you have on hand.
Oh also, if you have some beef bones – add those in now, you won’t regret it! These were leftover from a big pot roast I cooked a week prior.
After the sauce has simmered all day (or overnight) remove from heat. You’ll end up with something like this.
It will still be really textured since we haven’t pureed yet
Don’t forget to remove the bones! You do NOT want those in there when you puree.
Then you can add in your EVOO and herbs and transfer to a blender or just use an immersion blender like this. It’s so much easier for me to do it this way, less dishes too!
Blend well for a smooth consistency. See? Not too watery, but definitely not a super thick marinara either. I like this consistency because you can always cook it down a bit for a thicker sauce. But you don’t have to use water to thin it and sacrifice flavor.
You can go ahead and serve your sauce right away fresh. Or…
Get your clean, hot jars ready with a big funnel to transfer the sauce (I like stainless over plastic)
This recipe makes about four quarts. Don’t forget to leave headspace.
Add warm lids and rings
Then place in the pressure canner that has a few inches of hot water in the bottom. Work quickly to prevent temperature changes in the jars that could cause them to bust.
Jars are in….now can according to manufacturer instructions.
For my presto canner that is 25 minutes at 10 PSI.
An hour later…and there you have it, beautifully canned marinara for all of your tomato sauce needs. You can can in pints or jelly jars for smaller recipes like pizza. I go through enough of this to just use quarts, because even if I open one and only use half – I know the rest will be used within a week or so in some other recipe.
Storage tip – never store canned jars with the rings on. It prevents you from noticing seal failures. BUT, let the jars sit untouched for several hours before removing the rings so the seal is complete.
yield: 4 quarts marinara
- 5 lbs tomatoes
- 1 lb carrots
- 1 onion
- 8 cloves garlic
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 1 T sea salt
- 1/4 t black pepper
- beef bones
- 1/4 cup EVOO
- 1/2 cup fresh herb mixture like basil, parley, and oregano OR 2 T dried herb mixture
- wash, rinse, and dry all produce to be used (I use thieves produce wash)
- rough chop tomatoes, onions, carrots, and garlic as shown in pictures above
- add them all to a slow cooker, stock pot, or dutch oven
- add wine, salt & pepper, and beef bones
- cook on low for 10-12 hours
- turn off heat, remove beef bones, then stir in herbs and EVOO
- puree with a blender, or use and immersion blender to puree right in the pot you cooked in (this is what I do because it is less mess and dishes. I have this immersion blender)
- serve right away, freeze, or can
Pressure Canning Instructions
I can’t technically “recommend” that you can this recipe because it’s not a govt. certified recipe. But I do it and believe it to be a safe technique. Your call! Some may say you could water bath can this recipe with acid – I just prefer too pressure can it as is, know it’s safe for my standards, and be done.
- use a funnel and ladle to transfer into clean, hot jars
- remove air bubbles with a silicon utensil
- clean and dry the jar rims
- screw lids and rings on fingertip tight
- process for 25 minutes at 10 PSI
- store in a cool, dark place like pantry or basement
Scroll for my favorite canning tools and resources for this post
Recipe adapted from
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