Gardening · Preserving

Handcrafted Pasta Sauce

I found this recipe via a package of Sweet Roma Pasta Sauce Mix from Ball/McCormick, which is highly overpriced at $2.49 a card. You get the dried spices and a recipe card, that is it, for that price. You can easily replicate this at home, however, I don’t process the tomatoes like the card calls for. I like the sauce to have some texture!

Handcrafted Pasta Sauce


  • 8 pounds tomatoes*
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 tsp dried garlic
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried onion
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp fennel seed
  • Sugar to taste


Finely chop or run the tomatoes through a food processor gently to break up. We use a manual food processor which doesn’t destroy the produce.

*If you are using small, delicate tomatoes leave the skins on. If your tomatoes are huge with thick skins you might want to peel them first (Make an “x” on the bottom, dip tomatoes into boiling water for a minute, drop into a bowl of ice water and then peel and proceed). I like the texture with the smaller tomatoes and don’t peel them.

As well, if using huge tomatoes, core the tops also. Small tomatoes don’t need this.

Add the tomatoes to a large non-reactive stock pot along with the remaining ingredients (wait till cooked to add sugar if needed). Bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer for 30 minutes, stirring often.

Meanwhile add pint canning jars to canner. Fill jars with water and about half way up the canner. Bring to a boil.

Add the rings and lids to a small sauce pan, cover with water, bring to a simmer over medium.

Taste the sauce, and if needed add in a pinch or two of sugar.

Pull out the jars, draining back into the canner. Place on a clean kitchen towel. Dip your funnel, air bubble popper and ladle into the hot water.

Fill each jar, leaving a ½” headspace. Run bubble popper through jar, add more sauce if needed. Wipe down the rimes with a damp paper towel. Place lids and rings on, finger tightening on.

Place into the canner, lower in. Jars should be covered with at least an inch of water, if not add in the water from the ring pot. Bring to a boil, let process for 35 minutes.

Take out, let cool on a clean kitchen towel. Remove rings, note date on lid. Use within a year for best results. If any lids do not seal, place in refrigerator, use up within a few days.

Makes 4 to 6 pint jars (depends on how much you cook it down and how juicy your tomatoes are).

As always, if you ever go to use a canned item and the lid is not sealed anymore, or bulging, discard it immediately!