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Roasted Garlic and Pepper Tomato Sauce (A Canning Story)

I’m baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack!

Hopefully you read that in a sing-songy voice, loudly and very enthusiastically.¬† If not, I’ll give you another try.

I’m baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack!

I’m very excited to have power again (not to mention that Fritz and I have also joined the world of grown¬†adults by getting iPhones), and I thought what better way to welcome fall than by canning?¬† I also had approximately 10 pounds of tomatoes that I had to use up, since several days without refrigeration were quickly reducing them to mush.

Yep.¬† Ten pounds of tomatoes, thanks to my parent’s garden, my CSA box, and my very own tomato plants.¬† This recipe makes six pints of lovely canned sauce for later, not to mention a few extra cups for immediate use.

Roasted Garlic and Pepper Tomato Sauce (adapted from Better Homes and Gardens’ magazine, Canning)

  • 2 bulbs garlic
  • 1 1/2 T olive oil
  • 3-4 bell peppers (any color)
  • 2 banana peppers
  • 12 pounds ripe tomatoes (I used a mix of varieties)
  • 3 T packed brown sugar
  • 4 t salt
  • 1 T balsamic vinegar
  • 1 t ground black pepper
  • 2 1/2 C lightly packed fresh basil, roughly diced
  • 1/2 C other fresh herbs–I used thyme, lemon thyme, and parsley, minced
  • 6 T lemon juice

This whole canning system moves quite rapidly, and is perfectly timed with the process of making tomato sauce–it’s like canning and tomatoes were made for each other.¬† To can this sauce, you’ll need six pint-sized canning¬†jars (with new lids), and a very large stock pot to sterilize and process the sauce in.¬† Large tongs are also helpful, as are some extra dish cloths and pot holders.

Start off by preheating the oven to 400 degrees.  Remove the papery outer skin from the garlic bulbs, leaving the cloves stuck together.  Cut off about half an inch from the pointed end, exposing the individual cloves.  Place cut-side up in a baking dish, then drizzle with 1/2 T olive oil and cover with foil.  Halve and seed the peppers, then lay them cut-side down on a foil-lined baking sheet.  Brush them with the remaining olive oil.  Bake both the garlic and the peppers for about 45 minutes, until the pepper skin is blackened and the garlic is nice and soft.

Those 45 minutes are perfect for peeling the tomatoes. 

Tomatoes are easily peeled when plunged into boiling water for a few minutes, then dunked in an icy water bath.¬† The skin peels off quite nicely, and you’ll be left with a bowl of naked tomaters.

Roughly dice the naked tomatoes, and place them in a large pot (at least 8-10 quarts).  Leave a few out, for a reason soon to be explained.  Begin heating the sauce over medium heat.

By now the peppers and garlic should be ready.  Let them cool until they are handlable (is that a word?).  Peel the skin from the peppers, dice them, and set them aside for later.  Grab the bulbs of garlic, and squeeze the bottom to remove all the cloves.

Process the garlic and the tomatoes that you set aside in a food processor until smooth, then add to the sauce.  At this point, you can also add the brown sugar, salt, black pepper, and balsamic vinegar.  Bring the sauce to a boil, and leave uncovered for about 50 minutes, stirring frequently.

Now would be a good time to do some dishes and get a giant pot of water to boil.  You need to wash the jars with warm, soapy water, then stick them in the hot water to boil for at least 10 minutes.  The lids can simmer (not boil!), in a separate saucepan.

Once the sauce has boiled for 50 minutes, add the diced peppers and continue to boil until the sauce has reached the desired consistency.  And yes, it will smell heavenly.  Add the herbs and stir to mix.

Lay out a dish towel and place the jars on it (the hot jars might crack if you place them directly on a cold counter).¬† Keep your¬†giant pot of water boiling!¬† Add 1 T of lemon juice to each jar, then ladle sauce into each one.¬† Leave 1/2 inch of headspace (literally, just 1/2 inch of space at the top of each jar), and wipe them clean.¬† Place the lids on the jar, and gently screw the lids on until they feel tight–but don’t crank on ‘em.¬† Just a nice, friendly closure.

Return the jars to the pot of boiling water for another 35 minutes.  Start counting the 35 minutes only after the water has resumed boiling.  Once the jars are finished processing, remove them from the water and place them back on the dish towel to cool. 

You should hear each lid pop as the jar seals, and when you press on the lid it should not spring back.¬† If it does, your jar didn’t seal, and you can either eat that sauce within the week or start again with the whole¬†processing dealio.


But all mine sealed right away!¬† Yippee!¬† Now I have a year until I have to eat this sauce–but I doubt it’ll take that long.

This sauce is rich and flavorful, with no¬†overwhelming garlic taste (just a smoky hint) and a bit of a kick from the banana pepper.¬† It’s also a bit sweet and totally herby from the basil.

To sum it up, it’s the perfect sauce.

Seriously.¬† This recipe was a winner.¬† I can’t wait to use it on pasta (actually, we ate it for dinner) and pizza and lasagna and to eat¬†an entire¬†jar¬†with a spoon while standing at the counter, staring at the two giant stock pots I have to wash.

Wait.  What?

Oh, and here’s how we spent the last five days cooking:

Coleman stove all the way.  It was like camping.  Unplanned camping.  That lasted waaay too long.  And ended with us throwing out all the food in the fridge.

We took advantage of the empty fridge to thoroughly clean it out. 

What a beauty, eh?

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  1. florence

    Welcome home! Thanks for everything and a big kiss to Henry.Have a nice day(it’s 7:22 am in Paris).

    1. Lauren Zietsman

      Henry gives you a big kiss right back :)

  2. selina

    yay for being back and having power again! and canning is such a good way of making sure all your toms don’t go to waste! love it

  3. Hannah

    You are right, the banana peppers are zippy! (even with no seeds). I also have never made sauce with balsamic – it was a great addition. I hate chopping, so I did a short cut: blended both the roasted peppers and the fresh basil with some tomatoes (I did a huge batch, so I had to do it in two parts). So far, so good!

  4. Elle Marie

    Tomato sauce is just the bomb, really love it, thanks for sharing.

  5. Susan Sunde

    Wow! I’m impressed! That is some beautiful tomato sauce!

  6. urbanstrawberries

    Yay! Thank you so much for this recipe and the canning tutorial. I’ve been wanting to do this and have a ton of beautiful (and not so beautiful) tomatoes, peppers, and herbs. Glad your power is back. :)

  7. Kristen

    I LOVE that Henry picture. And if I cooked (or did anything other than eat raw food) I would totally make this sauce. My mouth is watering from the memory of this happening in our kitchen back in the day.

    1. Lauren Zietsman

      if you come over, i’ll give you a pint to keep!

  8. myFudo

    Thanks for sharing this post, had so many tomatoes with no idea on what to do with them. I’ll try making the spicy sauce. I know my husband would love this. Thanks again.

    1. Lauren Zietsman

      the things we do to please our husbands ;)

  9. Scott

    Henry steals the show again. Or at least gets the last laugh!

  10. mommytanya (@mommytanya)

    Did you de-seed your tomatoes? I made some sauce today from some tomatoes I picked from my garden and there were SOOOO many seeds it was ridiculous. I ended up having to blend the sauce. I’m just wondering if maybe it’s the type of tomatoes I’m growing or if other people de-seed and just don’t note it. Thanks! Looks delicious!

    1. Lauren Zietsman

      I didn’t deseed–so maybe it’s the type of tomato? My sauce does have seeds, but not really a notable amount!

  11. Scrumptious and Sumptuous

    This looks divine. I’m getting ready to use up our tomatoes, too, and was going to just do another batch of crushed tomatoes, but I’m going to try this instead. Question: the recipe says “1/2 other herbs.” I’m guessing that is 1/2 cup??

    1. Lauren Zietsman

      Yes, it is half a cup! Thanks for the edit–I fixed it!

  12. Dimitri @ The Last Piece of Cake

    You’ve inspired me to get canning right away! I’m probably gonna end up giving lots of little jars away as gifts. Hope I don’t get carried away! Cool recipe.

    1. Lauren Zietsman

      getting carried away is the best part about canning! I gave away jars of mint jelly for Christmas last year–perfect for that Christmas lamb or pork! :)

  13. Jane

    I followed your recipe to the T and this tomato sauce is outstanding. All of my jar sealed but I have already gone through two of them. Classico will never taste good again after eating this homemade fresh sauce. I used everything fresh out of my garden and added some oregano. Fantastic. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Lauren Zietsman

      I am so glad to hear it! I love this sauce, too–definitely going to be my go-to tomato sauce from now on (PS–I used it on a pizza and it was SO GOOD!!)

  14. Aga Artka

    Thanks for a detailed and photo-supported recipe! Outstanding. I am about to can it, so wish me luck!

  15. Kae

    I found your website from pinterest and I am so looking forward to doing this. Looks tasty

  16. Barbara

    Thanks for the recipe and tutorial. The last batch of tomatoes, garlic and peppers were used for salsa, but the next batch will be for your tomato sauce!

  17. Kari

    This sauce is fantastic. I have made two batches of it this summer and my husband will not stop raving about it. He ate the first small batch of 4 jars in less than a month. We have used it for everything – pasta, lasagna rolls, garlic bread dipping sauce, DIY pizzas. We are vegan and this sauce is by far better than anything you can get in the store. I plan on making this again before the season is up and giving jars as christmas gifts. Thanks!!

    1. Lauren Zietsman

      glad you liked it! i would love to make it again before all the tomatoes are gone

  18. Caitlin

    This is the best canning sauce I have ever made. My husband and I have made three batches of it so far. We grow our own tomatoes and peppers and love canning them. We’ve always made salsa, since whenever we’ve made pasta sauce the results aren’t worth the time and effort. Now that we found yours, that has changed. I can’t say enough good things about it. Thanks for you posting it (and leaving it up)!

  19. Karin

    This was delicious. I made a batch and canned it and then was told you can’t can in a water bath safely because of the veggies and that using fresh herbs leaves it unsafe. Have you heard this.

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