What Are the Best Tips for Canning Pasta Sauce?

Misty Amber Brighton

When canning pasta sauce, it can be helpful to choose the right type of tomato and pick the fruit at its peak ripeness. The peel and seeds should be removed before cooking the tomatoes, and there are methods that make this easier to do. Pasta sauce can be prepared by either the pressure cooker method or open kettle canning; however, the best method can depend on the recipe, available equipment, and the cook's experience.

Tomatoes should be fully ripened when making pasta sauce to can.
Tomatoes should be fully ripened when making pasta sauce to can.

Roma tomatoes are generally preferred for canning pasta sauce. This is because they typically have very meaty flesh that results in a thicker finished product. If Roma tomatoes are not available, any variety of beefsteak tomato can be used instead. This may result in a thinner sauce or require the tomatoes to be simmered longer to create the right consistency.

Remove tomato skins by blanching the tomatoes briefly.
Remove tomato skins by blanching the tomatoes briefly.

No matter what type of tomato is used for canning pasta sauce, these fruits should be picked at the proper time. This is normally when the fruits no longer have any green skin and are evenly colored throughout. Even so, tomatoes may sometimes need to be picked before they reach their peak ripeness due to possible frost or insect damage. Tomatoes that are not completely ripe may be placed in a sunny windowsill to finish ripening before being used in home canning.

A blanching method is often used to remove tomato skins while leaving most of the skin intact. This involves heating a pot of boiling water on the stove, and then dipping the tomatoes into the water with a ladle or slotted spoon. After this, they can be placed in a pot of very cold water for a few seconds in order to make the skins easier to peel. Once the skins have been removed, the fruits can be run through a food mill in order to extract the seeds. A juicer or high-speed blender could be used instead; this will not remove the seeds but rather liquefy them so they aren't noticed in the finished product.

Spices typically do not need to be added to the tomatoes when canning pasta sauce, but a bit of lemon juice and salt can help preserve the color and flavor of the sauce. After adding all the ingredients to the canning jars, the sauce can be processed in a pressure cooker or by open kettle canning. Either method can be an effective way of bottling food, so a cook may want to experiment with both methods to determine which one might be best to use.

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