How to make and preserve tomato sauce

We are at the time of the year where the tomatoes are at their ripest and tastiest. But… how do we keep them from going off? I’m not one to waste food, so I make my own tomato sauce, preserve it and then I can use it for all sorts of recipes at a later time. It keeps for about 6 months and ensures that all this goodness doesn’t go to waste. Especially these lovelies… homegrown, picked from my mother-in-law’s vegetable garden! If this isn’t organic produce, I don’t know what is.

Tomatoes are technically a fruit rather than a vegetable. They are jam-packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. And not to mention they’re delicious and, as a sauce, extremely versatile – pair it with pasta, make a homemade pizza, add to some other dish you’re preparing. Yum!

This recipe is super easy to follow, a lot easier than you think. It makes around 4 or 5 medium-sized jars, around 3 larger ones (500ml). There are many ways to preserve tomato sauce, some people add lemon, others add sugar, others freeze the sauce. Here, I’ll show you how to preserve the sauce by vacuum sealing the jars in boiling water.

You’ll need glass jars with metal lids. I simply reuse old jam or yoghurt jars. Wash them and sterilize them before doing anything else. I use my baby’s bottle sterilizer (seeing that we didn’t really use bottles, it’s a handy way of getting some use from it) but if you don’t have one, simply boil the jars and lids for about 5 minutes. Be careful when removing them from the heat, I suggest you use tongs.

You’ll need:

1.5 to 2 kg of ripe tomatoes, peeled and diced

3 onions, diced

4 garlic cloves, crushed

4 tbsp olive oil

1 large carrot, peeled

Fresh basil, to taste

Salt, a pinch (optional)

How to

First, blanch the tomatoes as this makes it easier to peel them. Simply add them to boiling water for 2-5 minutes. Remove from the water carefully and peel. Some people seed their tomatoes for the sauce, but I use the whole tomato! Dice the tomatoes and set aside.

Peel the onions and dice them. Add to a large saucepan.
Crush the garlic cloves, remove the peel and add to the onions.
Peel the carrot and cut into small slices. The carrot is in this sauce to add some sweetness and reduce the acidity of the tomatoes. Add to the garlic and onions.

Add the olive oil and salt and cook until the onions are golden.
Add the tomatoes and cook for half an hour over a medium heat, stirring every now and then.
After this time, wash the basil and add to the sauce, stirring well. Cook for another 15 minutes or so.

Once this is done, add the sauce to a blender and blend away until it has the desired consistency; this will vary from person to person – some like it clumpy, others like to super smooth. You do you 😉

Put the sauce in the jars, leaving about two fingers between the top and the lid and wipe the tops to make sure they are clean. Secure the lid and place in boiling water for 10 to 15 minutes, to seal the jars. This will make sure the tomato sauce is preserved. Remove from the heat carefully and place upside down for 24 hours.

Put a label or some sort of marking on the jar to know when it was made. Store in a cool, dry place for around 6 months. Once open, the sauce will keep in the fridge for about a week. Make sure you hear the popping sound when you open the lid, as this is a guarantee it’s been preserved.

Bon appétit!