canning homemade spaghetti sauce
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Homemade Tomato Spaghetti Sauce & How To Can Preserve It

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

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Hi sweet friends! Today, I’m sharing a wonderful recipe that I created for homemade tomato spaghetti sauce… and I will even tell you how I canned it, too!

This is the first summer in a VERY LONG TIME that we have had an actual vegetable garden. We’ve attempted growing some veggies in the past, but let’s just say we weren’t all that good at it. I can successfully grow just about any flowering annual or perennial that you can name, but it’s a totally different story when it comes to vegetable and fruit gardening. 

However, this year, I decided it was THE YEAR for a successful vegetable garden. I spent hours upon hours, researching Pinterest for blog posts from other gardeners with tips and tricks for growing tomatoes, bell peppers, jalapenos, and such. I made notes, read and saved articles, made a plan… well, sort of a plan… I planned to give it a try!

We (as a family project) built a mini-raised bed for our “first garden” and the building process was a success. (I’ll be sure to share that project with you soon.) Then, a trip to the local greenhouse nursery to select our plants and well… the rest is a long story… for another blog post on another day! However, I will tell you that we had a slow start, but we’re rolling in the tomatoes now! Which brings me to today’s recipe share of how I made my homemade spaghetti sauce. I will even share how I prepared my sauce for canning, too.

homemade spaghetti sauce

Can pre-canned tomato sauce be used for this homemade spaghetti sauce recipe?

This same recipe can definitely be used with plain store bought tomato sauce as a base. You would just omit the “reduction” step of removing all the excess liquid/water content from the tomatoes. Using store bought tomato sauce is actually an excellent idea to get a homemade spaghetti sauce flavor WITHOUT all the extra time and work of starting with fresh garden tomatoes.

Can homemade spaghetti sauce be frozen?

Freezing is a great way of preserving fresh tomato sauce. Freezing eliminates the need for glass jars and canning… which also saves time. I would recommend storing your sauce in freezer safe containers like these I found on Amazon… or try freezing flat in freezer bags, for quick thawing later!

What if I have limited freezer space?
Should I try canning my sauce?

Then, canning is the perfect option for you! This history of homemaking with food canning is one of the most traditional methods of food preservation there is. Our grandmothers, great-grandmothers, and many wonderful women before them took pride in “putting food up” for the winter months ahead. It’s a tradition in many families that has been somewhat lost in the newer generations. However, there are some things that are just better when they’re done the “old fashioned” way… know what I mean?! 

With canned foods, there is never a worry of food spoiling if the power/electricity fails, or if food gets freezer burnt, etc. Canned foods have a shelf-life that is unmatched by most other common forms of food preservation. So, if you’re not familiar with canning… do a little bit of research and start with a small project first to get your feet wet! I have a feeling that once you get started, you’ll get hooked… and never turn back! 

canning food preservation

What type of canning supplies are needed?

If you’re just starting out with canning, you’ll need to make some initial investments in some basic equipment to get going. These items below are the basic necessities to start on your food canning adventures. 

How I Make Homemade Tomato Spaghetti Sauce


So, if you’re on-board, let’s get to it!

You’ll need to gather your supplies before beginning the actual tomato work… here’s a list of the items to gather-up to make the process go much smoother:

  • *Sanitized/Clean Canning Jars w/lids and rings (I prefer quart size for spaghetti sauce)
  • Large stockpot(s) – may need more than one, depending on how many tomatoes you have to work with
  • Large spoon(s) for stirring
  • Lemon Juice (2T. per quart jar)
  • *Water Bath Canning Pot
  • *Food Strainer / Sauce Maker
  • *Jar Funnel, Lifter, and Magnetic Lid Lifter
  • LOTS of TOMATOES! (see my comments below)
  • Fresh Herbs – Basil, Oregano
  • Minced Onion
  • Minced Garlic
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Olive Oil


Did you notice that I mentioned that you’ll need LOTS of TOMATOES in the supply list above… yes, it’s so very true! This is a recipe that will be reduced by half of its original quantity. So, if you start with 10 quarts of tomato juice (all sauce starts as juice first… I’ll explain this more in detail shortly) you will end up with 5 quarts of spaghetti sauce when everything is complete.

I wish I could tell you exactly how many tomatoes to plan on using, but in reality, it just depends on the size of the tomatoes, how “juicy” your tomatoes are, etc.   So, I recommend using my recipe and adjusting it to the amount of juice you have after you’ve strained all of your tomatoes. 

Start by filling your kitchen sink with cold water and giving your tomatoes a bath! (no soap) This quick soaking will help to rinse them free of any dirt, dust, dried leaves, etc. 


  1. Core and quarter all of the tomatoes. Be sure to remove and discard any bad spots / areas that you wouldn’t normally eat.

  2. Place all quartered tomatoes in a large stock pot at simmer on low-med heat until the tomatoes become soft and the skins start to peel away from the tomato flesh/meat. This can take anywhere from 30-45 minutes, depending on the amount of tomatoes are in your pot. Be sure to stir frequently during this step, to prevent any scorching at the bottom of the pot.

garden tomatoes for homemade spaghetti sauce canning

Little by little, you will process all of the “semi-cooked” tomato quarters through the food strainer/sauce maker machine. This machine will remove all seeds, skins, etc. and leave you with juice and pulp. The juice and pulp is your “GOLD” for making a wonderful tomato sauce.

Take note of how much juice you have at this point in the process. (When I made my sauce this summer, I had approx 10 quarts of juice at this point)

Fill a large stock pot, or multiple smaller ones, with your fresh juice/pulp and slowly simmer (uncovered) until you have a reduction of half / 50% of your original amount. ***IT IS VERY IMPORTANT THAT YOU SLOWLY SIMMER…AND STIR FREQUENTLY during this stage of the process! A slow simmer and frequent stirring will help prevent any nightmares of scorching, boil overs, etc.!

garden tomatoes for homemade spaghetti sauce canning

When the juice/pulp mixture has simmered and reduced-down by half of its original amount… you officially have made a basic tomato sauce. You can totally add some salt to taste and stop at this point and you would have a nice basic sauce that you could use and season as you wish for a multitude of tomato based recipes! ….but, I’m making an actual seasoned “spaghetti sauce” …so, my process continues below.

canning homemade tomato sauce
Here's a look at my basic tomato sauce

With my 5 quarts of tomato sauce, I added the following seasonings, spices, herbs, etc. and slowly simmered for approx 20 more minutes. This allows the fresh herbs to release their flavors and “marry together” in the sauce… creating a very wonderful thing!

  • 1/4c – 1/2c. Fresh Basil (finely chopped)
  • 1/4c. Fresh Oregano (finely chopped)
  • 2T. minced Garlic
  • 3/4 of a small onion (finely minced)
  • 1T. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • 4T. Kosher Salt (you can totally use table salt and adjust this measurement to your tastes)
  • Pepper (to taste)
garden tomatoes for homemade spaghetti sauce canning fresh herbs
garden tomatoes for homemade spaghetti sauce canning fresh basil oregano herbs


Congratulations!!! You’ve made something truly delicious!

Now, lets preserve its freshness, so that it can be enjoyed during the long and cold winter months ahead. 

You will need some sanitized/sterilized clean quart jars for this step. I usually run my jars through a sanitize cycle in my dishwasher. There are other methods of sterilizing jars, but trust me… this is the quickest and easiest way to do this. 

Next, to sanitize the jar lids and rings, place them in a small stock pot of gently boiling water, until the very moment you’re ready to place them on your filled jars. (The magnetic lid tool comes in super handy for this step)

To each clean quart jar, add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.

Using the jar funnel and a ladle (or glass measuring cup), slowly dip and pour the sauce into the quart jars. Allow approx 1″ of “head space” (empty space) at the top of the jar. Overfilling the jars will not be a good thing… trust me on this! 

canning homemade tomato sauce spaghetti
Using a funnel will help the sauce pour more cleanly into the jars
canning homemade tomato sauce spaghetti
Place 2T. of lemon juice per quart jar before filling with sauce

Fill the water bath canning pot approx half-full with room temperature water. Place the jars of tomato sauce in the rack and lower into the water. The rack should lower all the way to the bottom of the pot, the jars should not be able to touch each other, and the water level should be approx 2′ above the tops of the jars at all times. If you need to add water to the pot to cover the tops of the jars, go ahead and do so at before turning on the heat. 

Cover the pot and bring to a boil. Once the water comes to a boil, set a timer and continue to boil for 45 minutes… add hot water at any time during this water boiling process to make certain that the tops of the jars stay UNDER WATER. 

If there is any doubt during this process, follow the manufacturer’s instructions that came with your water bath canning pot to ensure safety.

After the 45 minutes of boiling time has passed, turn off the heat. Using a jar lifter, VERY CAREFULLY lift out the hot jars and place them on a kitchen towel on the counter to cool. Be sure to allow air space between the jars to allow for air flow between the jars – this will help them to cool down a little faster. 

Soon, you should begin to hear the magic sounds of those jar lids “popping” as they start to cool. When you heat fill canning jars in a pressure canner or boiling water bath canner, pressure builds inside the jars. During the cooling process, this pressure creates a vacuum effect, which causes the lids to seal on the jars. The popping sound indicates that the seal on the lid has closed tightly over the jars

Following 24hrs. of cooling, if you have any jar lids that have not popped, you’ll want to place those in the fridge and use within a few days.

…and THAT’S IT! You’ve done it, you’ve made your very own, homemade, fresh from the garden, tomato spaghetti sauce!!

Let me know, by commenting below, if you have any questions, comments, or additions! …and feel free to join me in the “Sweet Home Cooking & Recipe Facebook Group” for lots more inspiration from the kitchen!

canning homemade spaghetti sauce
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    1. Hi there! No, the lemon juice doesn’t alter the taste at all. I wouldn’t recommend this same recipe with meat sauce – as that would change the canning requirements.

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