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How to Make Tomato Sauce – or Tomato Paste — the easy way.

For about 30 years I made tomato sauce on top of the stove.  (I called it tomato essence, but basically that’s how many folks make tomato sauce.) Although it was homemade and good — there were still some things I didn’t like about it.

  • By the time the tomatoes spent hours in the pot cooking they turned a very dark color — not at all like the bright red you think of as tomato sauce.
  • Also, in spite of the fact that it cooked a long time, it was sometimes runnier than what I wanted my tomato sauce to be.

Some years back I “discovered” roasted tomatoes.  One experiment led to another and now I make THE easiest, MOST delicious, and most beautiful tomato sauce I could ever ask for.  It takes about 1/3 the time that cooking on top the stove takes.

If you live in an area like Virginia that has not yet been touched by frost, you should still have plenty of tomatoes.  If you haven’t already discovered roasted tomatoes and how easy it is to make sauce from them, why not give it try.

Here’s what I do:

  • Core and cut tomatoes in half.  Place in an oven dish.

You can peel them if you want.  (I don’t anymore.)  Or you can take the skins out after they cook —  or not.  (Unless they’re really obvious, I leave them in. )

Depending on the size of the tomatoes I can get about 15 to 24 tomatoes in a 9 x 13 Pyrex dish. (Preparation is about 15 minutes for 24 tomatoes.) I fill the Pyrex dish full — but not so full that the liquid would run over while in the oven.

I usually cook two of those dishes at a time, although if I had enough tomatoes at any one time I could fit 4 in my oven.  (usually 75 to 100 tomatoes.)

  • Cook approximately 2 hours at 425 degrees. I take it out when just a little liquid remains.
  • Stir well.
Stir the roasted tomatoes.

After you stir the roasted tomatoes, this is what the sauce will look like.

Want it to look like the canned sauce?

Run the roasted tomatoes through the blender.

Want it to be more like paste than Sauce?

Let the tomatoes cook until all the liquid is gone.

  • Cool and freeze.  (Bagging and labeling 2 to 4 pints takes me about 15 minutes.)

From a generously filled 9 x 13 Pyrex dish I get about 2 pints.  One pint will be enough sauce for two people for one meal or possibly two depending on what dish you’re preparing.

Seasoning

The taste is so excellent that you don’t have to add seasoning unless you really want to.

I freeze as is.  If I want to spice  up the thawed sauce I dice up 3 or 4 cloves of garlic and two small red peppers (like cayenne peppers or fish peppers)  and saute in olive oil for a few minutes. Then add my tomato sauce.

Simple, but really good with spaghetti or even as sauce for homemade pizza.

Try using this when you make salsa.  I think it raises salsa to a whole new level!

Whole Wheat spaghetti, homemade sauce, fresh chopped parsley, fresh parmesan

Sauce is ready to serve just in the time it takes to roast the tomatoes and stir! 

Final Thoughts

Roasting the tomatoes is what gives the sauce its great flavor.  And once you find out how easy it is to make and how much better it tastes than that made on top of the stove, I think it’ll be your recipe of choice for tomato sauce and/or paste.

Related Posts:

Tomatoes – Roasted – For the Easiest Most Delicious Tomato Sauce

A Quick and Delicious Tomato Sauce

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Organic Gardening is easy, efficient, effective — and it’s a lot healthier.

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19 comments to How to Make Tomato Sauce – or Tomato Paste — the easy way.

  • Emma

    So excited to give this a try. I have been trying to figure out how best to preserve the last of my tomato crop!

  • Jo-Ann

    What a wonderful idea!! No more having to watch a pot for hours & hours. I think I’ll plant more tomatoes next year & give this a try. Going to pin this page!

  • Theresa

    Emma — glad this was timely for you and that you have tomatoes left. Be sure and let me know what your thoughts are when you try it.
    Jo-Ann — I should post a reminder next tomato season for folk to try this. It’s just soooooo easy and sooooo delicious.

    Thanks for taking time to comment.
    Theresa

  • Monica C

    I just roasted two large trays of the green tomatillos with onions, garlic and basil to make salsa verde. After they were done roasting I allowed it to cool a bit and dumped everything into the VitaMix. Using the VitaMix I don’t remove the skins or core, I simply cut them in half or quarters. Roasting gives the vegetables a delicious taste.

  • Theresa

    Thanks for your input Monica.

  • Aparna

    Theresa,

    You wrote ‘Core and cut tomatoes in half. Place in an oven dish.’
    Hmmm no more slicing/dicing. Now it can’t get easier than that! Gotta love it.

    Thanks for sharing.

  • Angela_NZ

    Thankyou for that recipe, it looks so easy and delicious. Being in the southern hemisphere my tomato plants are just getting underway. I hope I will have bumper crops so I can make heaps of this sauce!

  • Theresa

    I agree Aparna —- it doesn’t get any easier than this! AND — it’s more delicious than you can imagine!

    Angela — you’re in for a treat when your tomatoes come in.

  • Sandra

    This is the ONLY way I could’ve kept up with my tomatoes this year. The taste is superior because of the roasted flavor, and you literally save hours of time standing stirring at the stove. I don’t take the skin off, but the sauce gets much thicker more quickly if you remove the seeds. So glad I found this recipe here Theresa. I use the stick processor to liquidize the roasted tomatoes, and I have also added fresh basil at that stage also and blended it right in. So many variations!!

  • Theresa

    It does take care of a LOT of tomatoes in a little time, Sandra.
    And as you said — so many variations. Folks can tailor to suit their needs and tastes.

    And by the way — for those who want to remove the seeds and do it quickly — cut the tomato in half around its middle (rather than from top to bottom). Then scoop out the seeds. Use a grapefruit spoon if you have one. It’s the perfect tool for this.
    Theresa

  • Daniel Pearce

    Great stovetop Tomato sauce

    I and my family love this recipe, it is the opposite of the above recipe, which I will try.
    • 1/3 cup diced garlic
    • ~1/2 gal chopped tomatoes from the garden
    • 1C diced onions
    • 2C chopped mushrooms
    • 1/2C olive oil
    Start the pasta water then put all the above In pan and cook them for only 5 min (and stirring) after it starts to boil and then heat off. Then from the garden add
    • 1T chopped parsley
    • Oregano
    • Basil
    • 1/2t thyme.
    Put the moderately al-dente pasta, drained, in this mixture and cook a couple of minutes more then let it absorb the liquid without heat.

  • Theresa

    This sounds really good Daniel. Hope I’ll have a chance to try it this year.
    I know I should try it the first time without changing your recipe but I might find substituting roasted tomatoes in place of the freshly chopped irresistible.
    Thanks for posting the recipe.
    Theresa

  • Betty Taylor

    I made tomato sauce using your oven-roasted method this morning. Truly easy and delicious! I’ll never make it any other way now. I’m going to use these in a batch of chili tonight. Thanks!

  • This is genius! I will try it! Thank you!!!
    Suzanne @ Le Farm

  • Theresa

    Just wait ’till you taste it Suzanne!
    Theresa

  • Sue

    This sounds great. An alternate technique, minus the intensity of the roasted flavor but with the advantage that it produces no heat in the kitchen, desirable if you do it in the warm months, is to core them and put them in a crockpot. I usually cook a full pot on low for 18-24 hours, turning it up to high and cracking the lid and stirring occasionally for the last few hours to reduce the liquid. I have an outdoor outlet on the porch so I cook them outside.

  • Amy

    Delicious & so easy. Thanks for sharing. I added a bit of garlic, salt, pepper and stevia to one pint. Yum. Also cooked that pint for only hour and a half & it was fine. Puréed w/ skins in blender while leaving handle at top ajar so steam could escape. Was sauce with spaghetti tonight served with a zucchini salad. Just sliced zucchini thinly, added some red pepper shreds for color. Dressed with rice vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper and mashed basil into mixture. Gotta live summer harvest

  • kelly

    Theresa! I sent you an email with a photo of the tomato sauce I made last night using your method… In your other post on this subject, someone commented that she did this without blanching and peeling and then processed them in her vitamix…

    That was very appealing (no pun intended, haha) (a) because I’m kind of lazy and (b) I want all the possible nutrition I can get from food… apparently, we lose a noticeable amount of licopene and beta carotene when tomato peels are removed… Another one of the commenters on that post said she did it in her blender with the peels and the peels were still not smoothed out… I figured I’d try it anyway with my immersion blender because I am convinced that thing has powers of magic!

    Totally worked! After roasting and stirring the tomatoes, I had about a pint of sauce with peels in it… put that in a quart mason jar and pulsed my magic wand in it for maybe a minute… voila! Smooth, tasty, and retaining all the nutritional benefits of the peel…

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15795436

  • Theresa

    Good information Kelly. Appreciate your taking the time and also including the link.
    I was particular interested in the part about tomato peels increasing lycopene and beta-carotene bioavailability in men.

    Most of the time I leave the skins on and then remove them from the sauce after it cools.(The other times I dip the tomatoes in a hot water bath for 30 seconds and remove the skins.) Either way, if I want a sauce that has the consistency of canned sauce (like the picture you sent me), I just run it through my blender and the peels disappear as you mentioned.

    However, I seldom run mine through the blender because we just love the taste of “roast and stir” sauce. It’s like nothing else!

    Thanks again, Kelly!
    Glad you love the sauce.
    Theresa

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