How to Make and Freeze Homemade Tomato Sauce

By Lindsey Johnson | Last Updated: September 6, 2015

Freezer Spaghetti Sauce

Homemade Freezer Spaghetti Sauce

At the end of every summer, my grandmothers would preserve bushel after bushel of peaches, pears, tomatoes, jam, plums, etc, etc. I learned how to can from the best! And while I still enjoy canning when I have the time and desire (which isn’t this year, sadly), I really love using my freezer to preserve food.

It’s so easy to make and freeze fresh, homemade tomato sauce. If your garden is brimming with juicy, ripe tomatoes—or if your local farm stand is—this is a great way to preserve a bit of summer all winter long. Plus, I think it tastes better than opening up a can or jar.

How To Make Freezer Tomato Sauce

Let’s get started!

The type of tomato you choose doesn’t matter all that much. Just be sure to use ripe tomatoes that are brimming with flavor. Those woody, mealy, pinkish grocery store tomatoes won’t cut it here. I use whatever is least expensive and looks the tastiest. You can even use a variety. For this particular sauce, I’ve used beefsteak tomatoes.

Ten pounds of tomatoes looks and sounds like a lot, but they will cook down. This amount should make about 8 pints. The recipe can be easily be doubled or tripled. I do this process several times, working in batches, because I don’t like to overload my small kitchen all at once.

To help flavor the sauce, I add lots of diced onions, garlic and herbs. Fresh herbs are great, but dried will work, too. You can also add shredded or diced garden veggies like squash, carrots, celery, bell peppers, eggplant—whatever you like. I add a few small cans of tomato paste as well. This is optional, but it helps the sauce to thicken a bit more as it cooks and adds another layer of tomato flavor. But again, totally optional.

Freezer Tomato Sauce - peeling tomatoes-2The easiest way to peel the tomatoes is to drop them into a pot of boiling water for about 30 seconds. The skins will slip right off. Let them cool a little bit to prevent burning your hands.

Freezer Tomato Sauce - peeling tomatoes-3Next you can chop the tomatoes by hand, use a food processor or blender, squish them with your hands, or use a combination. (I don’t need to tell you which one is more fun to do!) I like a combination of pureed and diced tomatoes, so that’s what I do.

Freezer Tomato Sauce - diced tomatoesAfter that, it’s just like making any tomato pasta sauce: heat the olive oil, add the onions and garlic, saute until they start to soften, stir in the tomato paste (if you’re using it), then add the chopped tomatoes. If you’re using fresh herbs, you’ll add those at the end, but dried herbs can be added at this point.

Freezer Tomato Sauce - beforeBring the mixture to a simmer and let it cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours on medium-low heat. (You don’t want the bottom to scorch.) This nice slow-and-low cooking will help bring out the flavor and soften the tomatoes. The extra liquid will evaporate as it cooks and the sauce will thicken and darken. It’s magical.

Once it’s cooked down to a consistency you like, add the fresh herbs, if using, and season well with salt and pepper. If needed, add a little sugar or honey to balance out the acidity. Then it needs to cool down to room temperature before freezing.

Freezer Spaghetti Sauce
BPA-free plastic containers, resealable plastic freezer bags, or freezer-proof glass jars work great for freezing the sauce. Using plastic bags is a snap when it comes to thawing; they also stack nicely. Jars and plastic containers offer a little more protection against freezer burn, so they are better for longer-term freezing.

And that’s it!

This post was originally published on September 9, 2014.

Go to How to Make & Freeze Homemade Tomato Sauce recipe

How to Make & Freeze Homemade Tomato Sauce

Prep Time:

30 minutes

Cook Time:

30 minutes

Total Time:

30 minutes

Yield:

About 6 pints

ingredients:

  • 10-11 pounds fresh tomatoes
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 medium onions, diced
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 (4-ounce) cans tomato paste
  • 1-3 teaspoons sugar or honey, to taste (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh herbs or 2 tablespoons dried Italian herbs
  • 1 tablespoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
Print recipe

instructions:

    Prepare the tomatoes:

  1. Have a large bowl filled with cold water ready and waiting. Set a large pot of water over high heat and bring to a rolling boil. Working in batches, drop the tomatoes in one at a time, then let sit in the boiling water until the skins split open, 30-60 seconds. One at a time, remove tomatoes from hot water with a slotted spoon and transfer to the bowl of cold water. When cool enough to touch, slip off and discard the tomato skins and remove the hard stem end and core. Trim away any bad spots. Roughly chop the tomato using a food processor or blender, a knife, or by squishing with clean hands. Set aside.
  2. Make the sauce:

  3. Add the olive oil to an extra-large 8-10 quart stock pot over medium-high heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the diced onions. Cook, stirring frequently with a large wooden spoon, until onions start to soften and turn golden, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 30-60 seconds, stirring constantly so it doesn't burn. Add the tomato paste and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan so it doesn't burn. Add the fresh tomatoes.
  4. Bring just to a boil, then lower heat to medium-low and let simmer, uncovered, for 2-3 hours, until thickened. Stir occasionally to make sure the sauce at the bottom of the pan isn't burning.
  5. Add sugar or honey, if desired, along with the herbs, salt, and pepper. Taste and add additional salt and pepper if needed.
  6. Freeze the sauce:

  7. Let the sauce cool completely. Pour into to freezer-safe containers or heavy-duty freezer bags. Label well with date and contents, then transfer to the freezer. The sauce will last 3-4 months, or longer if you use a deep freeze.

notes:

The yield is approximate, depending on how much the sauce cooks down.

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Comments

This is perfect! Thank you! I’ve gotten out of practice and needed this step-by-step refresher–very well done!

Could you possibly do something similar for hot sauce? I have a glut of hot peppers this year. Usually, I just freeze them in zip bags to use one at a time, but my husband would really enjoy a bottle of our very own hot sauce! Might make a nice gift for others, too.

Another good thing – if they don’t ripen quite as quickly as you want, the long cooking time seems to help make up for it. I’ave had some in years past that I picked green and let ripen inside and I was surprised that they weren’t as terrible as I thought they would be. 🙂

I have only recently discovered your blog and just wanted to say that it is obvious how much care, attention to detail, and time go into what you do here — not to mention fantastic-sounding recipes and great photos. Thank you!! I am learning how to cook vegetarian, am single (which means too many leftovers most of the time), and really can learn from your meal planning and all the features on your blog. Very much appreciate it!

I know this sounds blasphemous, but could I use big cans of diced and/or pureed tomatoes? I’ve done a lot of things in the name of veg*nism, but I just don’t see myself peeling tomatoes. Thanx.

Not blasphemous at all! You can totally use canned tomatoes. You won’t need to cook it as long. If it were me…I think I would probably do six 28-ounce cans of tomatoes in place of the 10 pounds fresh. It’s slightly more than 10 pounds, but it’ll work just fine. Great question!

Hi Sarah! I have made freezer salsa several times and it has been great. A few things – cook it before you freeze it. The times when I just froze fresh, raw salsa, it didn’t thaw out very well. Too watery and the texture was horrible! Also, realize that the flavors aren’t going to be as good as fresh or canned, but it’s still perfectly fine to eat thawed out or used in recipes. It can give off odors from peppers and chiles, so put it an airtight container as opposed to plastic bags and then you’ll be fine. Great question!

I have to say this recipe is fantastic, it’s the best sauce I’ve ever tasted and it’s not because I spent 7 hours making two batches, it really is great! I added some pepper from the garden as well, all ingredients were fresh, oh my now put his on top of Spaghetti squash!

Hi Lindsay, Have you tried using a slow cooker to make this? Loving the sound of your recipe, I have plenty of homegrown tomatoes to use, also peppers & chillies so might incorporate those too!

I think I’m kind of in denial about summer ending… when I was reading this it actually occurred to me that the summer farmer’s markets won’t keep going on forever!! I love the idea of preserving the fresh summer bounty in this way, I’m really inspired to go home and make my own sauce!! 😀

Thanks so much for the recipe. I love to cook and had never made fresh spaghetti sauce This was easy and not intimidating when I read the recipe. A friend told me she adds carrots to hers for sweetness as well. Mine is cooking now so I’m excited to eat some tomorrow then off to the freezer for the rest! Thanks.

Hello
I just found your blog, I would like to make some yummy tomato sauce and then freeze it. But I need some help. Once it is frozen; how do you reheat it again for a recipe?

Thank you
🙂

Usually I let it thaw in the fridge and then heat it on the stovetop; you could also submerge it (while it’s still inside the container or bag you froze it in) in hot water until it’s thawed and then heat it.

Thank you so much for sharing this. This is my second year using your recipe. We have all enjoyed the sauce. I added 2 cups shredded Zucchini to my sauce this year. YUM!

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