How to Can Marinara Sauce

Here is the step by step for making and canning your own Italian marinara sauce.  It’s easy, healthy, and delicious, and a great way to make use of a bounty of tomatoes.  Homemade marinara sauce is a world away from the stuff you buy in the grocery store. It’s loaded with vitamins and nutrients, and not tainted by BPA, additives, and high fructose corn syrup.  Don’t be put off by the hands-on time needed to make this.  Consider that if you made 14 from-scratch spaghetti dinners, it would take you far more time than the six hours that these two batches of sauce took.

To speed up the process, use a high-quality blender or food processor. I’ve done this with both my Vitamix and my Ninja food processor with excellent results. (Check out this guide to tomato prep to make your life easier.)

The following instructions are for a canner load full of sauce or 7 quarts. If you have more or less tomatoes than that, a general rule of thumb is that approximately 1 pound of tomatoes makes 1 quart jar of sauce.

Prep the tomatoes

  • First, unless you are using a food mill, you have to peel your tomatoes.  My tomatoes are organic, so I didn’t have to worry about any nasty pesticide residue.  The easiest way to peel tomatoes is to take them from boiling water to an ice bath and then squeeze the guts out of them, as follows:
  • First, put water on to boil in a large non-reactive stock pot. (I prefer this stainless steel pot.) You don’t need to wash or cut the tomatoes before blanching them.  In batches, place the tomatoes into the boiling water for about 3 minutes.  (This time is not engraved in stone – don’t panic if you go over the time by a little bit.)
  • After you scoop the tomatoes out of the boiling water, place them directly into an ice bath and leave them there for at least 3 minutes. I like to use long tongs for this because you transfer less of the hot water into your ice bath.
  • Once the tomatoes are cool enough to easily handle, use your fingers to dig the stem end out of the tomato and discard it.  Then, squeeze the tomato over your blender – the skin should slide right off and leave you with a blender full of pulp.  You don’t need to remove the seeds. Pulse in the blender for about 30 seconds, resulting in a nice slightly chunky puree.
  • Meanwhile, using either a food processor or your blender, puree 2 bell peppers (any color), 2 large onions, and 1 or 2 heads of garlic.
  • Add the tomatoes and veggies to a large stockpot.  Then add the following seasonings – the first amount is per pound of tomatoes, and the second amount is for a 7 quart batch of sauce.


1 tbsp – sugar – 1/3 cup
1 tsp – sea salt – 2 and 1/2 tbsp
1 tsp – thyme – 2 and 1/2 tbsp
1 tbsp – oregano – 1/3 cup
1 tbsp – basil – 1/3 cup
1 pinch – powdered clove (trust me!) – 1 tbsp
black pepper to taste
1 pinch – paprika (smoked Hungarian if you can find it) – 1 tbsp
2 tbsp – extra virgin olive oil – 2/3 cup


  • With the lid on, bring the sauce to a simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally.  Then, remove the lid, drop the heat and simmer gently for 3 more hours.  The lid being off will allow the liquid to evaporate so that the sauce can cook down and thicken.
  • When it’s time to can the sauce, don’t worry if the consistency is still a little bit watery.  Over its time on the shelf, it will thicken somewhat.  If at serving time it is still runnier than you prefer, simply stir in a small tin of tomato paste to thicken it.
  • Fill sanitized quart jars with sauce, allowing 1 inch of headspace.
  • Wipe the lip of your jars with a cloth dipped in white vinegar and then place the lids on.
  • Process the sauce in your pressure canner for 25 minutes at 7 pounds of pressure, adjusting for altitude.
  • Allow the jars to cool undisturbed for at least 12 hours or until cooled.  Test the seals before putting them away.

Now you have many quarts of delicious, authentic Italian marinara sauce to serve at many meals to come.  You can use this to make spaghetti and meatballs, chicken Parmesan, as the base of an Italian vegetable soup, or you can thicken it to use as a pizza sauce.

You can also can meatballs right in your marinara sauce.  Find the recipe HERE.

Mangia bene!
(Eat well!)

Here are the products used to make this item:

Recipe: The Organic Canner

Recipe for Spaghetti Sauce and Meatballs

Pressure canner

Ninja food processor

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below

Shelley - October 17, 2015

Hello, I made your marinara sauce yesterday and it came out a dark colour. I used dried herbs and followed the 7 quart recipe amounts. Was this right or do younuse fresh herbs? I followed the cooking times as directed. Also, I didn’t have a pressure cooker so I added 2 tbsp of fresh lemon juice to each jar and processed for 45 minutes to ensure bacteria was killed. All jars sealed nicely but I am concerned because your directions suggest a pressure cooker. Can you advise if my jars will be okay to eat? Thank you. PS, I love your website!

    Daisy Luther - November 6, 2015

    This is kind of a tricky one. I can’t tell you yes or no, but I can give you information so that you can make your own decision.

    The recipe here is designed for a pressure canner, and includes both garlic and olive oil, which can be breeding grounds for botulism.

    Some recipes are designed for use in a water bath canner and those recipes DO include lemon juice to increase acidity levels. However, many of those recipes do not include peppers, onions, and olive oil.

    If I had seen this sooner, I would probably suggest moving it from the jars to bags for the freezer.

    Dried herbs are what are used in the recipe. 🙂

    Sorry that I missed this earlier.


Shelley - November 16, 2015

Thank you Daisy, I’m on the hunt for a pressure cooker for next time. 🙂

Scott - February 24, 2016


so if i have a recipe for sauce that has fried garlic tomato and dried herbs, what do i need to do to can it correctly without adding lemon juice or salt? Is there anything i can do?


    Daisy Luther - March 3, 2016

    Hi Scott! With that recipe, you should probably use a pressure canner. With a pressure canner, you don’t need to about the acid level, and it will be safe. 🙂

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