Making Spaghetti Sauce from the Garden

Day 104 of 365

Today has been a long day, and I am still going. I am waiting right now for the water to boil, so I can water bathe the spaghetti sauce I made today. It’s from scratch–and I mean I picked the tomatoes, peppers, and onions today and then made it into spaghetti sauce kind of scratch. It’s so flavorful and so nutritious and so versatile that I don’t mind the long days making it. It’s a treasure to me.

And the long days now mean easy days later. This winter, when we have a busy day or have to be on the road for our son’s orchestra rehearsal, I will have a 15 minute healthy dinner ready to go. Just cook spaghetti noodles, warm up the sauce, and it’s ready. We usually add ground beef, but it’s delicious either way. I also use this sauce to make lasagna and minestrone, and if I simmer it further, it makes delicious dipping sauce for homemade breadsticks or French bread.

I adapted this recipe so many years ago that I am not sure where to give credit for the original, but I have seen versions of this in the homesteading and gardening communities I am in for years. I am sharing with you my version of the recipe and instructions below. In my adaptation, I use fewer tomatoes and less pepper. I also do not own a food processor and just use a blender to get the peppers and onions really fine, which is important if you are like me and have a kiddo who does not like “chunks.”

I hope you enjoy!

Ingredients

20 pounds ripe tomatoes (we use all kinds)
5 peppers (bell or other peppers work; again, we use all kinds)
2 to 3 large white or yellow onions
8 to 10 large cloves of garlic
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup salt
4 small cans of tomato paste
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
3 Tablespoons basil (fresh and chopped if you have it but dried will work fine)
3 Tablespoons oregano (again, fresh is awesome)
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 bay leaves
12 to 14 Tablespoons lemon juice (for the canning process)

*You will also need 6 to 7 quart mason jars with lids and at least one giant pot for both the sauce and then the water bath canning. You will also need canning tools. I highly recommend reading this guide to water bath canning if you are new to it.

Instructions

The first step is to get the skins off of your tomatoes. Wash and remove the stems from all of your tomatoes. Bring water to a boil and then, a bit at a time, add your tomatoes to the boiling water. Boil for one minute and then remove. Set aside to cool while you do this to rest of your tomatoes. When you are finished, empty the water from your pot and clean it. You will use this pot for your tomatoes. Peel each tomato (the skin should come off quite easily), and cut out the hard area from where the stem was. Cut up the tomatoes and add them to the pot.

This is my kitty Betty. She was trying so hard to be in my lap today, so she hated that I had to get up every 15 minutes to stir the sauce.

Once you are finished with the tomatoes, a bit at time depending on your blender, blend your onions, peppers, and garlic together until it looks like a smoothie. Dump into the pot. Add the rest of your ingredients, except for the lemon juice. Stir everything together and cook on high until the sauce starts to simmer a bit. Reduce the heat to low to medium and simmer uncovered for 5 to 6 hours. During this time, it is critical that you stir the pot every 15 minutes during these hours to make sure the sauce doesn’t stick to the pot.

When the sauce is ready, you will sterilize your jars, add 2 Tablespoons of lemon juice, and then fill your jar with the sauce. The lemon juice is critical if you are going to can using the water bath method because modern tomatoes are not acidic enough to can using this method. Isn’t that interesting that tomatoes used to be more acidic? Wash your pot one more time for the final step.

Once you have followed proper water bathing procedures, put your filled jars into the boiling water and then let your jars sit in the boiling water for 40 to 50 minutes. When time is up, remove the jars. As they cool, if you are using Ball jars, you will hear a little “plunk” noise, which lets you know. your jars are sealed. If you are using Weck jars, just test the jars by picking them up by their lids.

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