How to Make Tomato Sauce From Fresh Tomatoes

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Preview: Learn how to make a homemade tomato sauce using fresh garden tomatoes This is the perfect way to turn those juicy tomatoes into a flavorful sauce you can use all winter long.

It’s tomato season. If your garden is overflowing with tomatoes, you probably want to put them to good use. Or maybe you picked up a box at a good price from the farmer’s market.

And what better way to use those ripe tomatoes than in a delicious sauce that you can eat on pasta now and freeze for later?

Making the best tomato sauce starts with the best tomatoes. The thickest sauce will be made from paste tomatoes, also called plum tomatoes, Roma tomatoes, or sometimes even San Marzano tomatoes.

However, if all you are growing is heirloom or slicing tomatoes, you can still make a delicious homemade tomato sauce.

You may want to add some tomato paste to thicken the fresh sauce or you will need to cook it down longer to achieve a thicker consistency. I’ll tell you how to do both in the post below.

a bowl of tomato sauce with basil and tomatoes on the side
A bowl of finished tomato sauce. Fresh tomato sauce can be used in so many ways from marinara to pizza sauce.

While you can use almost any type of tomatoes, I wouldn’t recommend using cherry tomatoes in this recipe. All the tomato skins and seeds may add a bitter taste to your finished sauce.

I do have a freezer-friendly oven roasted cherry tomato sauce recipe in my e-book, The Backyard Gardener’s Guide to Freezing Your Garden Harvest.

If you don’t have enough tomatoes at once to make this sauce, you can freeze tomatoes for later and make sauce when you have enough.

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How to Use Fresh Tomato Sauce

My family is not a huge fan of chunks of tomatoes in soups and stews that I make in the winter. So instead of canning or freezing diced tomatoes, I make a basic tomato sauce. It works well in (almost) any recipe that calls for diced tomatoes.

The recipe I am sharing below is pretty much a blank canvas. You can certainly add dried herbs to flavor the sauce. However, I prefer to leave my tomato sauce unseasoned and season it with spices and herbs according to the recipe I am preparing.

This way, if I make spaghetti sauce, pasta sauce, or pizza sauce, I add Italian seasoning. If I am using the tomato sauce to make a Mexican dish, I add some cumin, chili powder, and garlic powder.

I also don’t add any sugar or honey to my sauce at first. Occasionally, you will find the sauce needs a small amount.

I wait and add any sweetener until I am making the recipe, tasting as I go. Usually, you will only need a tablespoon or so if the tomato sauce seems a bit bitter.

Please note: This recipe is NOT suitable for canning!

Peeling the Tomatoes

Before making the sauce, I like to peel the tomatoes. But you don’t have to.

a peeled yellow tomato
This yellow tomato peeled easily after dipping it in boiling water and then in an ice bath.

However, peeling the tomatoes removes bits of skin that can get left behind when pureeing. And sometimes the skins can impart a bitter flavor to the sauce.

There are 4 methods for peeling tomatoes: using a paring knife, oven roasting the tomatoes on a sheet pan, using the boiling water method, and freezing the tomatoes.

Read more: How to Peel Tomatoes

How to Make Tomato Sauce From Fresh Tomatoes

This is a simple recipe using simple ingredients. You can add other flavorings such as fresh herbs or Parmesan cheese when you make your final dish with the sauce.

You will find a printable version of how to make tomato sauce below.

Ingredients

  • approximately 12 pounds of fresh tomatoes
  • 1 Tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 6 oz. can of tomato paste, optional
  • dried herbs, optional
freezer supplies checklist opt in box

Directions

Prepare Your Tomatoes

Peel your tomatoes. While not absolutely necessary, you will have a smoother, less bitter sauce by taking the time to peel them.

Remove the cores from the tomatoes and add the tomatoes to a food processor or blender. Puree until smooth. Add tomato puree to a large bowl. You will have to do this in batches, a few tomatoes at a time.

Alternatively, you can use a food mill to process the tomatoes which will remove the skins and puree the tomatoes in one step.

If you don’t have a food processor, blender, or food mill, you can add the whole tomatoes to the pot and use a potato masher to mash the tomatoes as the tomatoes start to cook down into sauce.

Cook the Sauce

a pot of fresh tomato sauce on the stove
The tomato sauce just after pureeing. It needs to cook down quite a bit to thicken.

In a large stockpot, heat extra-virgin olive oil over medium heat. Saute onions in olive oil until tender. Add garlic and saute one minute longer.

Pour in tomato puree. Add salt and pepper. Stir until all is combined.

Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for 2 or more hours until the sauce reaches desired consistency. Add the tomato paste and dried herbs if you plan to use them as the sauce nears desired thickness.

Taste the sauce (Be careful, it is hot!) and add any additional seasoning you desire. If you want a super smooth sauce you can use an immersion blender to puree the sauce to incorporate the onion and seasonings.

Cool and Pack the Sauce for Freezing

a pot of tomato sauce being cooked down
Cooking down the tomato sauce. You can cook the sauce until it is your desired consistency.

Remove the sauce and allow it to cool. I like to prepare an ice bath in my sink and sit the stockpot in the sink to bring the sauce to room temperature faster.

Once the sauce is cool, ladle it into freezer bags, containers, or wide-mouth canning jars and freeze. You can freeze in whatever quantities you typically use. I usually put 2 cups in each container or freezer bag.

I personally like to chill the tomato sauce in the refrigerator after ladling it in the bags or containers until it is really cold before transferring it to the freezer. It seems to help prevent ice crystals from forming.

This fresh tomato sauce recipe is a great way to use up an abundance of tomatoes. Turn the finished sauce into homemade marinara sauce to top your favorite pasta shape or any other homemade sauces you can dream up.

This easy sauce can also be used in soups and stew to make them thicker or to replace cans of diced or chopped tomatoes.

What is your favorite way to use tomato sauce? Have you ever made homemade tomato sauce and frozen it for later?

Related Posts

freezer supplies checklist opt in box
Tomato Sauce With Fresh Tomatoes
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
2 hrs
Cooling time
2 hrs
 

Learn how to make tomato sauce that can be frozen with fresh tomatoes.

Course: Sauces
Cuisine: American
Keyword: freezing, tomato sauce
Ingredients
  • 12 pounds fresh tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 6 oz. can tomato paste, optional
  • dried herbs, optional
Instructions
  1. Peel your tomatoes. While not absolutely necessary, you will have a smoother, less bitter sauce by taking the time to peel them.

  2. Remove the cores from the tomatoes and add to a food processor or blender. Puree until smooth. Add tomato puree to a large bowl. You will have to do this in batches, a few tomatoes at a time.

    Alternatively, you can use a food mill to process the tomatoes which will remove the skins and puree the tomatoes in one step.

  3. In a large stockpot, heat extra-virgin olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and saute until tender. Add garlic and saute one minute longer.

    Pour in tomato puree. Add salt and pepper. Stir until all is combined.

  4. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for 2 or more hours until sauce reaches desired consistency. Add the tomato paste and dried herbs if you plan to use them as the sauce nears desired thickness.

    Taste the sauce (Be careful, it is hot!) and add any additional seasoning you desire.

  5. Remove the sauce and allow to cool. I like to prepare an ice bath in my sink and sit the stockpot in the sink to bring the sauce to room temperature quicker.

    Once sauce is cool, ladle into freezer bags or containers and freeze. I personally like to chill the tomato sauce in the refrigerator until it is really cold before transferring it to the freezer. It seems to help prevent ice crystals from forming.

a bowl of tomato sauce with basil and tomatoes on the side
A bowl of finished tomato sauce. Fresh tomato sauce can be used in so many ways from marinara to pizza sauce.

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4 Comments

    1. This recipe has not been TESTED for canning and I do not can any recipe that has not been thoroughly tested. When canning any tomato product you need to add an acid like lemon juice or vinegar and I would have no idea how much to add to make this recipe safe for canning.

  1. Thanks for sharing! I’ll be trying this out tomorrow and I’m excited that I found a use for my food mill besides apple processing.

    1. Yay! I’m so excited that you can use your food mill in more than one way. I hate single-use gadgets and a food mill is the easiest way for me to prepare the tomato sauce. I hope it turns out well for you.