Canning Tomato Sauce

IMG_0612At long last I’m writing about our sojourn canning tomato sauce a few weeks ago.  It was a long process, and only now am I feeling up to posting about it. 🙂

The hubby has a family recipe for making tomato sauce that he really wanted to can.  However, it includes meatballs and meat drippings that can’t be done in a boiling water canner, so for the first time we had to use the pressure canner.

All right, I fully admit a little while ago that I was afraid to use the pressure canner, so it was good that K was the first one to try it. I seriously thought we were going to blow up the condo or something.  But honestly, it wasn’t that scary, once my husband explained it to me (after he read the directions).  And so far, our tomato sauce is holding up quite well.  By that I mean, I haven’t seen any mold growing on the meat in our canned tomato sauce yet. 🙂

K browned his beef in the saucepot and added his tomatoes, spices and whatever else he throws in there, without draining any of the meat drippings out. He insisted at the time that’s the only way he can make it authentic, but afterwards, when it settled at the top, he admitted he should have kept it out.

Coring tomatoes

Coring tomatoes


Tomatoes cooked down

Tomatoes cooked down

Sauce with spices, onions and meat drippings mixed in

Sauce with spices, onions and meat drippings mixed in

We ladled the sauce into quart sized jars (just like real tomato sauce comes) but had to leave 1 inch of headspace, instead of the 1/4 inch you normally leave for jams and the like. It felt weird.  We put on the lids and bands and put them into the pressure canner.

Pressure Canners

According to Canning Pantry,

Low acid foods require a higher temperature when processing than can be reached by placing them in jars immersed by boiling water. To kill harmful bacteria (such as those associated with botulism) use of pressure canning ensures the safety of the preserved produce. Foods such as red meats, sea food, poultry, milk, and all fresh vegetables, with the exception of most tomatoes, fit into the low acid group since they have an acidity, or pH level, of 4.6 or higher. The temperature which must be reached and maintained (for a specified amount of time) to kill the bacteria is 240 F. This temperature can be reached only by creating steam under pressure.

The hubby is an engineer so he loves diagrams, but looking at pressure canner pictures put me right off.

Pressure canner

Pressure canner


After you fill the canner with water and put on the top (without the weight!) you have to wait for steam to start coming out of the top vent (like a kettle).  Once steam has been coming out for 10 minutes, you place the correct weight on top and let it pressurize in the next 3-5 minutes.   You know when it’s ready to go because the dial on the canner will show that it’s reached the proper pressure, and then you need to cook it for the recommended time.

For our tomato sauce, that required 1 hr. and 15 minutes at 10lbs pressure – lots and lots of heat coming out of our gas stove!  Once it was done, we had to let the canner sit there and come back to 0 pressure before opening it up.

So, as you can tell, it really isn’t that hard, nor that scary, and I’m much more willing to try it more next year.

Here was our finished tomato sauce! The meatballs broke up into mush in our jars, but I guess we’ll just call it meat sauce instead.  We haven’t opened one yet to try it out, but we’ll give it a shot sometime this winter.

Finished product, with drippings at the top, blecch!

Finished product, with drippings at the top, blecch!


2 Responses

  1. Beautiful jars of homemade sauce. I love the variety of tomatoes you had to work with.

  2. […] And We’re Still Alive… Posted on October 22, 2009 by Chelle Last night, Hubby and I opened our first jar of tomato sauce and meatballs that we canned at the end of August and I wrote about here. […]

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