Basic Tomato Sauce

How To Make Basic Tomato Sauce with Fresh Tomatoes
Makes about 8 pints
What You Need
  • 15 pounds ripe tomatoes
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup lemon juice or red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons salt (optional)
  • 6 1/2-quart or larger Dutch oven or stock pot
  • Mixing bowls
  • Slotted spoon
  • Knife and cutting board
  • Food processor or blender
  • Jars for canning or containers for freezing
1. Peel the tomatoes: Bring a large Dutch oven or stock pot of water to a boil over high heat. Fill a mixing bowl with ice and water and set this next to the stove. 
Core out the stems from the tomatoes and slice a shallow "X" in the bottom of each fruit. Working in batches, drop several tomatoes into the boiling water. Cook until you see the skin starting to wrinkle and split, 45 to 60 seconds, then lift the tomatoes out with the slotted spoon and plunge them into the ice water. Continue with the rest of the tomatoes, transferring the cooled tomatoes from the ice water to another mixing bowl as they cool.
When finished, use your hands or a paring knife to strip the skins from the tomatoes. Discard the water used to boil the tomatoes.
2. Roughly chop the tomatoes: Working in batches, pulse the tomatoes in the food processor. Pulse a few times for chunkier sauce, or process until smooth for a pureed sauce. Transfer each batch into the Dutch oven or stock pot.
Alternatively, chop the tomatoes by hand. Process through a food mill for a smoother sauce. You can also use an immersible blender to smooth the sauce after it's come to a boil.
For a very chunky sauce, skip this stop entirely and let the tomatoes break down into large pieces as they cook.
3. Simmer the tomatoes: Bring the tomato sauce to a simmer over medium heat. Continue simmering for 30 to 90 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce reaches the taste and consistency that you like.
4. Stir in the lemon juice and salt: When finished cooking, stir in the lemon juice or vinegar and salt. A quarter cup is necessary to ensure a safe level of acidity for canning. Add more lemon juice or vinegar to taste.
Preserving Option 1 — Freeze your sauce: Let the sauce cool and then transfer it into freezer containers or freezer bags. Sauce can be kept frozen for at least three months before starting to develop freezer burn or off-flavors.
Preserving Option 2 — Can your sauce: Transfer the hot sauce into sterilized canning jars. Top with new, sterilized lids, and screw on the rings until finger tight. Process in a pot of boiling water for 30 minutes. Let cool completely on the counter — if any lids do not seal completely (the lids will invert and form a vacuum seal), refrigerate that sauce and use it within a week or freeze it for up to three months. Canned tomato sauce can be stored in the pantry for at least a year.