Pizza nights are a breeze when you have homemade pizza sauce canned on your shelf. If you make the crust ahead of time, this meal can be thrown together quick. Your spouse, littles, and anyone else joining for dinner will love pizza night with this sauce.
Pizza is on the menu!
Wait, was pizza ever off the menu? I hope not!
When I planted my garden this past spring I really wanted tomatoes. I wanted them so bad that I planted over 100 plants. Last year I planted 17 and got maybe a handful of tomatoes. This year was not going to bring that kind of disappointment!
How did I fit over 100 tomato plants in my tiny back yard? Lots of pots and several Greenstalks. In fact, my back deck and the areas directly surrounding it looked like a tomato jungle. I also built a new raised bed along the side of my house in an area that was previously just weeds.
The area doesn’t get the best sun but I figured it was worth a shot. Something would definitely grow there even if the tomatoes would not.
All summer I was hoping for about 80 pounds of tomatoes. This seemed like a far off wish with the luck I’d had in previous years, but it’s always good to have dreams right?
Growing Pizza Sauce
Fast forward to this fall. The tomatoes finally did not disappoint. It would seem that the horse manure from my friends farm was the missing piece of the tomato puzzle. My plants were full of tomatoes! Some of them were pretty small, but even small tomatoes add up.
The cupboard is stocked with pasta sauce and crushed tomatoes for the year. After finishing those I had processed the 80 pounds of tomatoes I had been hoping for. But wait, there’s still more!
When the weather cooled and the rains moved in, I decided that I would call the tomato harvest. There were still smaller green ones out there, but I had to say enough at some point. I brought the ones I chose to harvest in and filled my dining room table with them. Now what do I do?
My fridge was filled with fermented salsa already, so no need for that. But I don’t have any pizza sauce. Ah ha!
Using All The Tomato Parts
For pizza sauce all you want is the pureed meat of the tomatoes. The peels give it a weird texture and the juice makes it runny. So I heated up the tomatoes, ran them through a food mill, and separated out each of these parts.
The skins went in one pile to be dehydrated for tomato powder.
The juice went into a container to be canned for tomato juice.
Last but not least, the meat was pureed and turned into pizza sauce.
Use Only Approved Recipes For Canning Pizza Sauce
To make the pizza sauce I used the recipe from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving (affiliate link). When canning, especially water bath canning, it’s very important to use a safe, tested recipe. If you don’t you run the risk of having an unsafe product at the end that is not shelf stable. Canning an unsafe product can end up making your family very sick. Not worth the risk to me.
The Ball book has a couple of different methods listed to get the tomato pulp needed. I decided running it through a food mill was the easiest and least time consuming option for me.
Preparing And Cooking The Tomatoes
Eighteen pounds of tomatoes were washed, had any bad spots taken off, and put into a large 16 qt stock pot (affiliate link). This is the pot I use and I love it!
I chose to heat up the tomatoes because they will run through my hand powered food mill easier. Once the tomatoes were softened, I put batches of them into the food mill. My food mill could not hold all of these tomatoes at the same time.
The juice drained out into one bowl, then I moved the food mill to another bowl and pressed out the meat. When it is pushed through the plate in the food mill it purees up beautifully.
Once all of the tomatoes had been run through the food mill, I set the juice aside and put the meat back into the pot. It was brought up to boiling, like the directions said, and then lemon juice and spices were added.
Why would pizza sauce require lemon juice?
It has to do with science. I promise this is easy science and no test will be administered.
How To Safely Can Pizza Sauce With Water Bath Canning
Water bath canning relies on acidity and temperature to ensure what you are canning is safe to store on your shelf. Tomatoes vary in acidity depending on the type of tomato you are using and the conditions it was grown in. You cannot accurately tell the acidity of tomatoes in a home canning situation, so an acid is added to ensure the acidity is high enough to prevent botulism growth.
In comes lemon juice to the rescue. Most tested tomato water bath canning recipes will have you add lemon juice for the acid. It must be bottled lemon juice so you know it has a 5% acidity. Fresh lemon juice varies and cannot be used safely.
There are other acid options, but I find lemon juice works perfectly for tomatoes because it doesn’t change the flavor. You can substitute bottled lime juice but the taste would be affected. Lime flavored pizza sauce? I’m not that adventurous!
The only spices needed to make the pizza sauce are salt, pepper, oregano, and garlic powder. The recipe calls for 1 tsp. of each, but I used a little more than that. Changing the amount of dried spices does not affect the acidity of the final product, therefore you can adjust those to your liking.
Prepare The Jars and Canner
Heat your jars up in the pot you’re using to water bath can in. As long as you have a rack that fits in the bottom of the pot and can fill it so there is 1-2 inches of water above the top of the jars, it can be used for water bath canning. I use a 24 quart stock pot as my water bath canner (affiliate link).
Fill your jars to 1/2 inch headspace. This means leave 1/2 inch of space at the top of the jar that is not filled. In this batch of pizza sauce I used a combination of disposable metal lids and reusable canning lids. The reusable canning lids are Harvest Guard Lids (affiliate link) and I love them.
If you decide to start using reusable lids, there is a bit of learning curve so practice with water before you use them on food. Harvest Guard includes directions with their lids, be sure to follow them exactly and I’m certain you’ll end up loving them too!
Canning the Sauce
The jars are filled and ready to go into the canner. Bring your water up to a rolling boil and process for 35 minutes for pints and half pints.
After the 35 minutes are up, turn off the burner and let them sit for another 5 minutes. Then take them out and set them in a non-drafty place where they will not be disturbed for the next 12-24 hours.
The 18 pounds of tomatoes I started with gave me 17 half pints of pizza sauce. I decided to use half pints because that’s about the right amount for one large pizza. We don’t typically make more than one at a time, so half pints will be perfect.
And there’s your pizza sauce, on the shelf and ready for your next pizza night. If you really want to be prepared, make a big batch of pizza dough, divide it up, and put it in the freezer. You’ll be the hero when your family wants pizza and you have everything on hand to whip it up quickly. And who doesn’t want to be a hero?
Canning the Tomato Juice
To can the tomato juice, follow the same steps to prepare and fill your jars. Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice per pint (2 for quarts) and process 35 minutes for pints and half pints, 40 minutes for quarts. 1 teaspoon of salt can be added per pint also if you choose but’s not necessary.
The recipe from this comes from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving (affiliate link) so I have not posted it here. Follow the directions in the post or click on the link above to grab your own copy. You won’t be sorry to have this on your shelf!