Each summer, I develop two mental lists of preserves (though come to think of it, it might serve me well to actually commit these lists to paper). On one side, I line up the things I must can. These are the products like roasted corn salsa, dilly beans, and tomato products. As much as I love jam (and inevitably make a goodly amount), it’s never on that must can list. However, pizza sauce always is.
Throughout the fall and winter, we make a lot of pizza and I love having some homemade sauce on the shelf to use. Sometimes our pizzas are built on a traditional crust and other times, it’s Carrie Vitt’s sunflower seed version (delicious and so good for those times when you’ve been eating too many bready things).
Over the years, I’ve made pizza sauce a number of different ways. I’ve got a small batch technique in Preserving by the Pint that I like a lot. You’ll find a honey sweetened version in Naturally Sweet Food in Jars. Truly, as long as you follow safe canning guidelines, there is no wrong way.
For this batch, I used ten pounds of grape and cherry tomatoes, roasted them down, pushed them through a food mill, and finished cooking them down on the stove. The finished sauce is a muted orange color, just thick enough to be spreadable, and tastes deeply of summer.
I like this particular approach because the tomatoes do their initial cooking off the stove top. I can prep them while making dinner and then finish them off with that before-bed energy boost I so often have.
This would work just as well with more traditional canning tomatoes or even heirlooms, but I had all these tiny tomatoes, so I made them do. Of course, as with many tomato preserves, the yield will vary pretty widely on this one because of variations in water, sugar, and fiber content.
Acidity is always an issue with tomatoes, but is even more so with these small, sweet varieties. I made the call to double the recommended amount of citric acid to this batch, adding 1/4 teaspoon directly to every half pint jar, to ensure a safe finished product. The single 12 ounce jar I used got an proportionally increased amount of citric acid.
If you’re not a home pizza maker, a sauce like this is still a good thing to make for the pantry. It could be used as a starter for enchilada sauce. It’s always a nice addition to a pot of soup when you need added depth and acidity. You could even thin out a couple half pints with a glug of milk and a pat of butter and call it tomato soup. Practical canning at its best!
Roasted Grape Tomato Pizza Sauce
- 10 pounds small tomatoes grape, cherry, or Sungold all work
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt divided
- 2-3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon dried Italian spices
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- citric acid
- Preheat your oven to 300 degrees F. Heap the tomatoes into your largest roasting pan (or divide them into two separate pans). Drizzle them with the olive oil and sprinkle 1 tablespoon of kosher salt over the top. Stir to combine.
- Roast the dressed tomatoes for 45 minutes to an hour, until they crack and soften. I like to get a little bit of dark color on the skins for flavor. Do make sure to give them a stir every fifteen minutes or so.
- When the tomatoes are sufficiently softened, remove the pan from the oven and let them cool a bit.
- Once the tomatoes are cool enough that you won't get a burn if a bit of juice lands on your skin, fit your food mill with its medium-sized screen and start working them through.
- Pour the pulped tomatoes into a pan and bring it up to a low boil. Add the sugar (start with 2 tablespoons and add the third only if you feel the sauce needs it), Italian spices, the remaining salt, and black pepper and stir to combine.
- Simmer, stirring often, until the sauce has cooked down by about 1/3 and doesn't seem at all watery.
- Prepare a boiling water bath canner and enough jars to hold about five pints (I like to can my pizza sauce in half pint jars, because that's typically how much we use on pizza night).
- Measure 1/4 teaspoon citric acid into your half pints and 1/2 teaspoon citric acid into your pints.
- Funnel the finished sauce into the jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Use a wooden or plastic chopstick to stir the citric acid into the finished sauce.
- Wipe the rims, apply the lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath canner for 30 minutes.
- When time is up, slide the pot off the hot burner, remove the lid from the canner and let the jars cool slowly for five minutes.
- Remove jars from canner and set them on a folded kitchen towel to cool.
- After 24 hours of cooling, check seals. Jars that have sealed can be stored in the pantry. Any unsealed jars should be refrigerated and used promptly.
I see the first tablespoon of salt being used in step 1, but I don’t see where the 2nd tablespoon is added, although there is an odd mention of salt in step 9. Am I missing something?
This looks fabulous, thus the extra careful reading. 🙂
Oops, thanks for catching that, Karen. I’ll go fix that now.
I still see only the 1 TBS of salt, where is the 2nd used?
It’s there with the sugar, pepper, and Italian spices.
I LOVE your pizza sauce recipe from Preserving by the Pint – it’s reminiscent of the sauce from the mom & pop place I worked at in college and I have raved about it anyone who will listen. So this one has me excited to. I only hope to conjure enough little tomatoes from my dying garden to make it this season.
Becky, this one is a little bit different, but equally good.
Rookie question: I had the vague notion that you could never-ever safely can (by boiling-water-bath method) foods with oil in them…? That’s apparently wrong, eh? — you just need to follow a tested recipe? — (which will typically have a very small amount of oil?). Just keen to learn! Thanks for this GREAT site — I love it!
I was wondering the same thing. Also, can I use lemon juice instead of citric acid? If not, where do I find citric acid? Thanks for all your amazing recipes!
You can always can high acid things with very small amounts of oil in them. This recipe ends up working out to have a little less than 1 teaspoon of olive oil per pound of tomatoes. The risks with large amounts oil are that it can lead to quicker spoilage (because it could go rancid), it could compromise the seal (if any leaks out during processing), and it can create low acid pockets which could provide safe refuge for botulism spores to germinate into a toxin. However, the general rule of thumb is that if you’re using very small amounts, the risk of those things is so slight that you really don’t have to worry about it. In fact, there are some approved recipes that have up to a cup of olive in them.
You can use bottled lemon juice, but you need to use a heck of a lot more. 1/4 teaspoon citric acid = 1 tablespoon bottled lemon juice.
Some stores carry Ball brand citric acid in their canning section. If you can’t find it there, look in the bulk spice section (if your store has it). Otherwise, brewing stores typically carry it.
Fab! Thank you! As ever, so helpful and also interesting. Have a great weekend — I hope it’s glorious where you are.
I had the same question as Happy Mum about the oil. This is why I freeze the tomato conserva, rather than canning it. But I’d prefer to can it, if it were safe with the oil.
Tomato conserva is typically finished off with a layer of olive oil on the top and that’s not a safe technique for canning, because that oil will most certainly leak out during processing and compromise the seal. However, if you just have a small amount and it’s integrated into the product, it’s okay. You’d also need to ensure that your conserva had plenty of additional acid, to ensure a safe pH.
Looks an amazing recipe! I’m a novice at canning as it all terrifies me…I just freeze it all! Time to try and source some citric acid and give it a go:)
Is the sugar required for safe storage? I typically do not like added sugar in my tomato sauce (more about taste than calories). Would rather leave it out.
The sugar in this recipe is simply to temper any sharpness from the tomatoes. You can safely leave it out.
Citric acid = Bottled Lemon Juice? I have a hard time finding citric acid.
You can also use bottled lemon juice for acidification purposes. One tablespoon bottled lemon juice = 1/4 teaspoon citric acid.
I rarely have a glut of tomatoes (even the South of England doesn’t get that warm!), but I freeze all the ones I buy that are starting to get soft and then roast to use as passata. Would these be ok for canning? I’ve never thought of going the next step and they just gradually fill my freezer space! Thanks
You could defrost them and cook them down into a sauce. Frozen tomatoes do well in preserves.
Hi, I just made the pizza sauce from preserving by the pint and I noticed the processing time is just 15 mins (for half pints, water bath). This recipe calls for 30 mins which I guess is in part due to pints vs half pints but in general, but it made me curious, why only15 mins for the pizza sauce in the book? I am not sure I’ve seen tomato sauce type recipes processed for 15 mins for any other of your recipes. Is 15 mins enough and if not, what should it be? Thanks for your books and recipes! My go-to for canning.
The sauce in Preserving by the Pint isn’t as dense as this sauce. The denser the product, the longer the processing time.
Thank you! I just made this cherry sauce and eek, my tomatoes were watery! My 10lbs only produced 4 half pints…. and it took 3+ hours to cook it down to a nice thick sauce for pizza. I don’t like thin pizza sauce so let it go for a long time. It’s thick and creamy and smooth and your comment makes me think I should process for longer.
Another novice canner, here. I’m looking to expand my repertoire from jams and salsa. Does the Roasted Grape Tomato Pizza Sauce recipe call for small tomatoes because they are less watery or more flavourful? Could Roma tomatoes be used?
This recipe calls for small tomatoes because that’s what I had when I made it. You could certainly use roma tomatoes.
If I don’t have a food mill could I use a blender?
You will end up with a fairly different product than the one that I made, but it’s not unsafe to do so.
Hi! Can this recipe size down into the quarter pint jars?
And would it be 1/8 citric acid in those instead?
Yes and yes. Processing time remains the same.
Quick question about food mills. I have one of those vertical tomato mills with the hopper on top and hand crank. It came with 2 screens – one for tomatoes that removes skins and seeds and one for apples (which I haven’t used before). You mention using the “medium sized” screen with your mill. Does this produce a more chunky/meaty result? My tomato screen produces a pretty fine puree. I’m wondering if I should be using a coarser screen to get the same result as your recipe. I suspect however, that I would see more seeds using a coarser screen, but the skins would probably be cleaned up. Any recommendations? Thank you!
The food mill I was using comes with three screens. The medium one is similar to the tomato screen for your mill. Mine has a screen that’s even finer that is designed for berry seeds. Using your tomato screen should be fine.
Hi! I’ve been looking for a roasted tomato sauce, since I think the roasting brings out the best flavors in the tomatoes. I’m not fussy about skins, though. Do you think it would be okay to just blend it all (when slightly cooled) instead of running it through a mill to get rid of the skins? I do this with a tomato soup recipe and I barely notice the bits of skin in the soup. they may even thicken it a bit.
Totally fine to just blend it if you don’t mind the skins.
Can you add the lemon juice to the tomatoes and cook it down so that it will not produce a runny sauce? I can not use citric acid as it is derived from corn. I am considering making the pizza sauce from the cookbook.
You really want to add the lemon juice directly to the jar, to ensure that each jar gets the same amount of acid.
So easy and tastes fabulous.