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.