It’s hard to beat a simple dish of fresh pasta topped with homemade marinara sauce. The key is using quality products and when you have those these simplest of dishes come to life.
The Italians have relied on the best of the best tomatoes for centuries: Sun-kissed San Marzano tomatoes. They’re stronger in flavor and much sweeter than most any other variety. And for that reason it’s hard to replicate the flavor of the marinara sauces you find in southern Italy. Our tomatoes require the help of a few flavor boosts, a dash of sugar being one of them.
This marinara sauce is slow-simmered with a variety of herbs and seasonings for 2 hours. The end result is a delicious sauce you can either eat right away, freeze or can for long-term storage so you can enjoy the vibrancy of Summer all year long!
The use of dehydrated onions is especially suited to canning as it provides a better flavor long-term.
Let’s get started!
Select the best tomatoes you can find. The ideal tomatoes are ones that are very meaty with few seeds. Roma tomatoes fall into that category and are the most readily available and they, like other paste tomatoes like San Marzano’s, develop the best flavor when cooked down into a sauce. That said, you can use whatever tomatoes you have available and if they’re grown in your own garden so much the better.
Blanch the tomatoes for a minute in boiling water to loosen the skins. Peel the tomatoes and squeeze out and discard the seeds. Chop the tomatoes.
Place the tomatoes in a large pot with all the ingredients (except for the citric acid/lemon juice). Bring it to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 2 hours, stirring every once in a while. Adjust seasonings to taste. Discard the bay leaves.
Use an immersion blender or transfer to a blender and puree until desired consistency.
I use and recommend Cuisinart’s Immersion Blender, I’ve been using mine for 8 years and it’s still going strong.
The sauce is ready but the flavor is even better after a day or two.
You can either enjoy the sauce now, freeze it, or can it for future use.
If you want to can your marinara for long-term storage, here’s how:
Before you fill the sterilized jars with the marinara sauce, add 1/4 tsp Citric Acid per pint or add 1 tbsp bottled lemon juice per pint (double those quantities for quarts). This is per USDA guidelines as a requirement for safe canning. Fill the hot marinara sauce into the jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Wipe the rims of the jars with a damp cloth. Screw on the clean lids and rims.
Next you’ll use a water canner to process the jars. This complete canning set has everything you’ll need.
Place the jars in the boiling water canning and process for 35 minutes for pints and 40 minutes for quarts (wait for the water to return to a boil before you start the time). Turn off the heat and let the jars rest for 5 minutes before removing.
Carefully remove the jars from the water canner and let them sit undisturbed for 24 hours. Check the seals. Store in a cool, dark place for at least a year but for best flavor use within 6 months.
Best Marinara Sauce for Canning
- 12 pounds ripe tomatoes
- 1/2 cup dried/dehydrated minced onion (provides a great flavor boost and is especially suited to canning for long-term storage)
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons sea salt
- 1 tablespoon dark balsamic vinegar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried rosemary
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon crushed fennel
- 1/2 teaspoon dried ground sage
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- citric acid or bottled lemon juice, if canning (per USDA guidelines as a requirement for safe canning)
- Blanch the tomatoes for about a minute in a pot of boiling water to loosen the skins. Peel the tomatoes, squeeze out and discard the seeds. Chop the tomatoes.
- Place the chopped tomatoes in a large pot along with the remaining ingredients (except for the citric acid). Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered for 2 hours, stirring every now and then. Discard the bay leaves. Adjust the salt and pepper to taste. Use an immersion blender or transfer to a blender to puree until desired consistency is reached.
- You can use the sauce now (flavor gets better in a day or two), freeze it or can it for long-term storage.
- To can the sauce: Place 1/4 teaspoon citric acid or 1 tablespoon bottled lemon juice in the bottom of each sterilized pint-sized jar (double the quantity for quart jars). Ladle the hot marinara sauce into the jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Wipe the rims clean with a damp cloth. Screw on the clean lids and rims. Place the jars in a boiling water canner and process 35 minutes for pints and 40 minutes for quarts. Turn off the heat and let the jars sit for 5 minutes. Remove the jars and let sit undisturbed for 24 hours. Check the seals. Store in a dark, cool place for at least a year, but for best flavor use within 6 months.