The Simplest, Most Delicious Spaghetti Sauce You’ll Ever Make
Still have a ton of tomatoes from your garden, CSA or farmer’s market and not quite sure what to do with them?
Maybe you’re sick of salsa and tomato juice and want something different, or you hate paying $5.00 or more a jar for spaghetti sauce at the grocery store.
I’ve got a spaghetti sauce recipe for you that’s so easy and versatile, you’ll never try another one. Promise! As a bonus, adding a few cans of tomato paste makes this into a delicious pizza sauce too.
This is the eighth in my Abundant Harvest series of posts. If you missed the others, here they are: Okonomiyaki with Garlic Scapes, Egyptian Walking Onions, Use up that Zucchini, Peach Preserving and Recipes, Using up your Garden Peppers, Great Beet Recipes, and Easy, Mild Salsa Recipe. If you’d like printable versions of many of the recipes in the posts, you can sign up here for my email newsletter, and you’ll get INSTANT access to my Resource Library with all the printables and other goodies.
Let’s get to it!
Prepping your Tomatoes
This recipe is all about the tomatoes, and we know that peeling ALL THOSE TOMATOES, and then boiling them down so your sauce is nice and thick is a royal pain in the buttocks. However, it doesn’t have to be.
You might remember from my salsa post that I suggested a better way. I first discovered this when I read about it on a friend’s blog. You can find her over at the Reid Homestead, and having now used this technique a bunch of times, I believe she is truly a genius!
All you have to do is wash your tomatoes, then core them. Cut an X in the bottoms of the tomatoes, then place them in freezer bags and put them in the freezer for at least 24 hours.
When you remove them from the freezer to thaw, cut a bottom corner out of the freezer bags (like you would if you were using the bag as an icing or pastry bag) and place them in your sink. As they thaw, the excess juice will drain out, making endless boiling to thicken your sauce unnecessary.
Even better, when they’re fully thawed, you’ll be able to just grab a tomato and rub the skin right off! No boiling them and trying to handle scalding hot tomatoes just to get the skins off. It’s so EASY!
And the best thing? If it’s 100 degrees outside and the thought of heating up your kitchen makes you want to cry, you don’t have to! Just leave them in the freezer until October or November when it’s cool out and make your sauce then!
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The Easiest Sauce Recipe Ever!
Here’s where it gets fun. This recipe is seriously the easiest, most versatile sauce recipe you’ll ever find! REALLY!
If you’re going to be canning your sauce, you’ll want to start with at least 10 gallons of tomatoes (before you put them in the freezer) to end up with 4 quarts of sauce. Of course, this will be approximate after boiling down, so I always try to have a few more than I think I’ll need.
I’ve found plum tomatoes to be the best for sauce. I love San Marzano, an heirloom variety that’s very easy to grow and produces abundantly. Our summer last year was wet and humid and all my other tomatoes died. Not my San Marzanos! This year, we had a bone dry summer. All my other tomatoes? BLEHHH! My San Marzanos? They look absolutely awful, but they’re still producing like troopers. Seriously, these are the only sauce tomatoes I’ll ever grow.
If I have extra tomatoes of other varieties, I’ll throw them in too. Your sauce isn’t going to suffer from using different types of tomatoes. In fact, the flavor will just get better.
Prepare your tomatoes as above and put them in a big stockpot, bring them to a boil, then turn the heat way down so they just simmer.
If you like them, you can add chopped onions and peppers to taste. I don’t do fresh onions or peppers because my tummy doesn’t like them, so I’ll throw in a couple of tablespoons of dried onions.
What I do like to do is saute several cloves of garlic (I would use like a dozen, but my family would hate me, LOL!). I use 4-6 cloves and saute them in a little olive oil over medium heat until they’re slightly browned, then add them to the sauce.
Seasonings for your Sauce
When I first start simmering the tomatoes, I’ll add several tablespoons of dried oregano, a little bit of garlic powder (even if I used fresh garlic), and some salt and pepper. If you like basil in your sauce, you can put some of that in.
If you prefer Italian seasoning, you can certainly use that instead. Again, put in a bit now, but you’ll probably be adding more later.
Simmering your Sauce
Let your sauce simmer for several hours. This isn’t as much about trying to simmer it down and thicken it since most of the extra liquid will have already drained off the tomatoes. It’s more about getting all the flavors to blend and softening the tomatoes.
I’ll usually let mine simmer all morning and then finish it in the afternoon. There’s no right or wrong here. If you want it to simmer for 7 or 8 hours, go ahead, you’re not going to hurt anything.
If you work and you want it to simmer all day while you’re at work, give the slow cooker a try. I haven’t done this with fresh tomatoes, but I think it should work just fine. I would use the high setting though, I think, as low might not soften them sufficiently.
Finishing Your Sauce
When you’re ready to finish up your sauce, taste it and add any additional seasonings you feel it needs. At this point, I usually end up adding a bit more oregano and salt, but you should add (or not!) based on how it tastes to you.
Because my family prefers non-chunky sauce, I zap mine in a blender for a few seconds before processing. My preference is the first blender pictured below (because it’s the one I own and love), but if you’ve got an immersion blender or prefer one, that’s an option too. I’ve linked to a Kitchenaid one below, although I don’t have an immersion blender myself.
Once your sauce is the way you want it, you have a few decisions to make:
- Are you going to can or freeze?
- Are you going to use it as spaghetti sauce or pizza sauce?
Canning vs. Freezing your Sauce
If you prefer to freeze your sauce, just let it cool and place it in freezer bags or containers, label and freeze.
If you’d rather can (which is what I do), follow the directions in a respected canning manual such as this one for pressure canning.
NOTE: You may have heard that tomatoes can safely be water bath canned. This was true (maybe) years ago when everyone was using heirloom tomato varieties. However, tomatoes are right on the acidity line between safe and unsafe for water bath canning, and many modern hybrids have a pH just a bit high for safety. If you’re using only heirloom varieties, I suppose it MIGHT be safe. However, botulism is a very real, very serious danger, so I wouldn’t chance it. Pressure canning is the way to go.
Can your quarts for 15 minutes on high pressure. Check for a good seal after 24 hours, and immediately refrigerate or reprocess any jars that haven’t sealed. My sauce lasts at least a year after canning, although I don’t know if it would last longer as I rarely have any left by the following season!
Need a good, reasonably priced pressure canner? Below is the one I have. You can only do 4 quarts or 5 pints at a time in this one, but I find that I rarely have more than that at once anyway. It’s also quite easy to use, not a lot of complicated stuff with the pressure gauge and all that, so I really like it.
This is my third season with it, and it’s been reliable and held up well. Oh, and it also water bath cans pints (it’s not deep enough for quarts, although there is a low pressure option for things that’d normally be water bath canned), if you have things you want to do that way.
Spaghetti Sauce vs. Pizza Sauce
If you’d rather use your spaghetti sauce as pizza sauce, just add about a can of tomato paste per quart to your sauce when you heat it before serving. You can adjust this as needed based on how thick you want it, so if your sauce was a little thinner to start with or you like thicker pizza sauce, you might need 2 cans of paste. But, just as with the rest of this recipe, you can adjust it as needed.
I hope you’ve seen how easy and versatile this recipe is, and how simple is actually is to make your own nutritious, delicious spaghetti sauce from scratch! If you try this, please let me know how it went in the comments, I LOVE to hear from my readers!
You’ll also find some pinnable images below. Please be sure to pin to your Recipes or Food Preservation board for future reference.
Otherwise, thanks for reading, smile, and have a crazy organic day!
Posts Related to Easy, Versatile Spaghetti Sauce
- Okonomiyaki with Garlic Scapes
- Egyptian Walking Onions
- Use Up that Zucchini!
- Preserving and Using your Garden Peaches
- Pepper Recipes
- Using your Garden Beets
- Easy, Mild Salsa Recipe
- Homemade Grape Jam