Tomato Sauce to Freeze

September 23, 2013

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This past winter, I read Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, a memoir about her family's yearlong effort to eat only locally produced food.  Although my suburban townhome existence precludes me from raising chickens or growing a massive vegetable garden, I was inspired to buy a chest freezer for the garage and scheme about how to fill it.  As Kingsolver points out, if you want to eat locally in January, you need to plan ahead during the summer and fall.  Phase one of my food preservation scheme involved picking large quantities of strawberries and blueberries at a local berry farm and freezing them whole.  Phase two involved buying large quantities of tomatoes at the farmer's market and turning them into tomato sauce.  I haven't figured out phase three yet, but I suspect that it will involve the twenty pound banana squashes at the farm stand that are calling my name.

Back to phase two: I tweaked a basic tomato sauce recipe to suit our tastes.  Feel free to tinker with the amount or type of herbs, and adjust the garlic, salt, and pepper to your personal preference.

Recipe update 9/5/2015: If you enjoy a chunkier, more rustic tomato sauce, you can save some time and leave the tomatoes unpeeled.  Most of the peel will break down during cooking, but there will be an occasional stray piece.  If you choose to go this route, start with the "cooking the sauce" portion of the recipe.

Adapted from the Simple Bites recipe by Elizabeth

Yield: about 9 cups (72 ounces) of sauce


  • 15 pounds tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, finely chopped

Preparing the tomatoes:

Fill a large stockpot with about 6 inches of water and bring to a boil.  Prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl halfway with ice cubes.

Meanwhile, score the bottom of each tomato with an approximately one inch "x", about 1/4 inch deep (the exact size and depth isn't crucial, just refrain from dismembering the tomato).

Place six tomatoes at a time in the stockpot and cook for 60 seconds.  Using a slotted spoon, remove from stockpot and place in ice bath.  Allow the tomatoes cool until they can be comfortably handled.  Peel off the tomato skins and discard.

Cooking the sauce:

Remove the seeds from the tomatoes and chop into one inch pieces.

Heat olive oil in a large stock pot over medium heat.  Add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion is softened and the garlic is golden, about five minutes.  Add prepared tomatoes and rosemary to the stockpot and bring to a boil.

Tomato Sauce

Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5-6 hours, stirring thoroughly every half hour, until tomatoes have reduced in volume by about 2/3 to form a thick sauce.

Remove sauce from heat.  Stir in salt, pepper, and basil, adding more seasoning to taste if desired.

Allow sauce to cool completely.  Ladle into plastic containers* and place in freezer.

*I sprayed my containers with canola oil spray in an effort to prevent tomato stains.