If there is one thing I wish I put up more of each year it would be this Heirloom Tomato sauce. My older son has adoringly nick named it the “special sauce” and I can’t think of a more fitting name.

Heirloom Tomato Sauce | mountainmamacooks.com #canningweek14

Without a doubt, canning marinara is the most tedious and labor intensive thing I can. It’s truly a labor of love. It’s a full day endeavor and it takes a lot of tomatoes and yields a fairly small amount for how much work is involved. With that being said, it’s also the most rewarding thing I put up. This sauce surpasses any jar you can buy in a store and you can’t beat the ease for a quick weeknight dinner over some steaming hot pasta. The first year I canned this I made a double batch and put it pints instead of jars. My husband loved it so much that I’d come home from running errands and he’d be making himself a mid afternoon snack of a big ol’ bowl of pasta. I had to put an end to that pretty quickly so he wouldn’t eat it all before October!

Heirloom Tomato Sauce | mountainmamacooks.com #canningweek14

I don’t want to scare you from making this because it’s truly worth the effort! It’s definitely a job for two people though. One person will be overwhelmed and work all day. And more than two people means too much work for too little yield. Trust me when I tell you that two people is the perfect number to tackle this sauce! I’m lucky that I have a dear friend that loves canning as much as I do. She picked up almost 70 lb of tomatoes on Monday and we spend all of Tuesday and the better half of Wednesday putting up a batch of this marinara and a ton of crushed tomatoes.

Heirloom Tomato Sauce | mountainmamacooks.com #canningweek14

You can bet that I hid these 3 quarts and will be rationing them out over the winter months. If I can bring myself to go at it again, I’ll make another batch and let my husband binge on an afternoon bowl of spaghetti but until then I’m hiding the “special sauce”. If you give it a go, you’ll totally understand.
Canning week might be coming to an end but I just might have a few more recipes to share with you in the upcoming weeks. Thanks for following along all week and be sure to visit Completely Delicious to get this recipe for Peach JalapeΓ±o Chutney recipe. And The Vintage Mixer for this Apricot Shrub for Homemade Sodas recipe.

And last but not least, don’t forget to enter our canning week GIVEAWAY! Have a great weekend, everyone! xo

#canningweek14 mountainmamacooks.com

Heirloom Tomato Sauce for Canning

Yield: 6 quarts

A homemade marinara that is the epitome of summer. Heirloom tomatoes, garlic and white wine make for a killer tomato sauce recipe for canning!


  • 16 lb heirloom tomatoes, picked over and washed in throughly in warm water
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 36 small cloves garlic, peeled (about 3 heads)
  • 3 cups olive oil
  • 6 cups chopped yellow onions
  • 6 cups dry white wine
  • 12 stalks fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
  2. Cut tomatoes in half and remove core and scoop as many seeds out as you can. Save seeds, cores and any accumulated juice in a separate bowl and save.
  3. Lay tomato halves in two roasting pans, cut side up. Sprinkle half the chopped garlic and dried thyme over the tomatoes and drizzle with half of the olive oil. Roast uncovered for 45 minutes.
  4. Remove tomatoes from oven and let cool until easy to handle.
  5. Remove the tomato skins and add them to the bowl with the seeds and cores. Add tomatoes to a separate bowl.
  6. Heat remaining olive oil in a large stockpot and add onions. Cook over medium-low heat for 15 minutes until nice and soft. Add remaining garlic and cook an additional 5 minutes. Turn heat to medium high and add white wine. Simmer for 20 minutes or so until wine is reduced by just over half.
  7. Meanwhile, mash the roasted tomatoes with your hands and then stir them into the simmering onion mixture. Using a fine mesh sieve, place the tomato seeds, cores and extra juice over the pot and press them so that all the additional tomato juice drips into the pot. Discard the seeds and skins. .
  8. Bring the sauce to a boil add the whole basil stalks (don't chop the basil!!) and simmer for 30-40 minutes. Remove basil and add a tablespoon of salt and lemon juice. Cook 5 minutes more.
  9. Ladle marinara sauce into 6 quart size sterilized jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe the tops of the jars with a clean, wet paper towel. Center a lid on each jar and screw band on just finger tight. Process jars in a hot water bath for 40 minutes.


For each 1000 feet of altitude over 3000 feet, add 5 minutes of processing time. At 7000 feet, I processed my jars for a total of 55 minutes.

Connect with Mountain Mama Cooks on Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter!

40 Responses to Heirloom Tomato Sauce for Canning

  1. Liz says:

    Sounds so good. Thanks very much.

  2. Cindy H says:

    What do you mean by whole basil stalks?

  3. Wow, those tomatoes are BEAUTIFUL. I so wished that I lived closer to you. I’d totally come hang out all day and help with canning (and have you teach me!). πŸ™‚

    This one looks like it’s deliciously worth all of the effort. Definitely a “special sauce”!

  4. Even though this is a tedious task, it totally would be worth it. I’m extremely picky with the kind of canned/jared tomato sauce I use. It all is always too sweet for me. When I studied abroad in Sweden I remember loving their jared tomato sauce because it was more savory than sweet! So i’m LOVING that you didn’t add sugar. Saving this recipe for sure. One day I will have enough ambition to try it πŸ˜‰ Thank you!

  5. I wish there were two of me so I could spend all of September putting up tomato sauce. It really is liquid gold! Thanks for getting me hooked on it! πŸ™‚

  6. Nikki Howser says:

    I’m planning on making this sauce tomorrow! My husband and I are roasting the tomatoes we speak, and all other ingredients have been purchased. With three littles, we’ve found it helps if we do as much prep the night before πŸ™‚
    Question- can I omit the thyme and sub dried basil instead? Our garden basil got eaten by birds πŸ™ and I can’t find it fresh in stores for the life of me!
    Thanks for this delicious looking recipe! I am making a double batch πŸ™‚ I’ll let you know how it turns out!

  7. Kait says:

    This sauce looks so good! Every time I make tomato sauce at home, it looks orange, not beautiful and red like this!

  8. Lynn Toghill says:

    Thanks for recipe…. Just checking … Is olive oil 3 cups or 3 tbs??

  9. Lynn Toghill says:

    Is this recipe correct…. 3 cups olive oil?

  10. Callie says:

    When you say “Process jars in a hot water bath for 40 minutes” is the water bath boiling water or just hot water? I want to do this correctly! πŸ™‚

    • Kelley says:

      The water needs to be boiling. Once you put the jars into the boiling water, bring the water BACK to a boil and them time 40 minutes from there.

  11. Jennifer says:

    Your recipe calls for yellow onions. I have on hand white onions out of my garden. Would this substitute be fine?

  12. chris says:

    Hi! Im making your sauce right now, and I noticed in the recipe it says to add a tablespoon of lemon juice and salt at the end. What am I doing with the 1/4 cup of lemon juice the recipe asks for? Thanks so much! Really excited to try this out!

    • Kelley says:

      You divide the 1/4 cup of lemon juice, using a 1 tablespoon of lemon juice + salt into each jar before canning.

      • Rusty says:

        Hi Kelley, I’m sorry if I sound nit-picky, but I really am looking forward to this sauce turning out, and am half way through! Your recipe calls for 1/4 lemon juice, which equals 4 tablespoons. This recipe yields 6 quarts. I don’t mind doing the math, however the recipe says add to sauce while still in pot. Is there a difference if we add to the pot and not to individual jars?

  13. Jennifer says:

    Went I picked up all the stuff for this I didn’t realize I’d need 2 bottle of wine. I bought one thinking it was enough. I’m knee deep in this recipe, can I sub anything for half the wine?

  14. Beth says:

    Any adjustments I should make in halving the recipe?

  15. LoriaG says:

    I’ve already simmered the sauce for 60 min but still seems to thin, can I continue simmering until it thickens?

  16. Mary Jo says:

    May I ask why roast the tomatoes? What it do to the tomatoes taste?

  17. Connie H says:

    when do you put the olive oil from the roasted tomatoes back into the mixture? I’m making it this afternoon. It’s an experience!

  18. Amy Flagg says:

    I typically don’t like making sauce with heirlooms because it’s usually to sweet. I just made this sauce with my over abundance of heirlooms or they were going to go bad so…why not give it a shot! AMAZING sauce! This will now be in my canning recipes forever. I did put most of the tomato “meat” in a separate bowl and whizzed it with my immersion blender. I preferred the consistency. I’ll be doing another batch in a couple weeks. Fantastic recipe!

  19. Katelyn says:

    I tried this last year and OMG, it was sooo good but not nearly enough to last. So this year, I planted 100 plants and I am looking forward to making at least 5 batches, along with homemade ketchup, salsa, pizza sauce and diced tomatoes. This was by far the best tomato sauce I have ever had. Thanks for posting this!

  20. Erin Dawn says:

    I’m relatively new to canning and I read recently that oil as an ingredient when canning can contribute to botulism. There was no further explanation, so I’m not sure if that risk is eliminated by bringing it to a certain temperature or what. Your thoughts?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *