The local farm markets are awash with plump, juicy tomatoes bursting with flavor, nutrients and antioxidants! Won’t you be sad this winter, when faced with tasteless, chemical-laden fare from the local box-box grocery? No need for that! Canning your own pasta sauce is neither difficult nor expensive. Your homemade pasta sauce will retain its flavor and nutritional value, look great on your pantry shelves, save you money, and will keep – shelf-stable – for at least 3 years. There is a link in the instructions below that will take you to a very easy and tasty pasta sauce recipe that you can make in the slow cooker. I have listed some very basic equipment – this is what I started out with – although if you enjoy canning, you should really get a $10 canning ‘kit’ of implements at Meijer. The kit contains a type of tongs that will more securely hold the jars, a wide mouth funnel, and a little magnetic doo-hickey for holding the lids in the boiling water. If you REALLY enjoy canning, go scrounge up a proper canning pot with a rack that lifts out at a garage sale somewhere.
You will need:
- A large stock pot with a small wire rack on the bottom
- A second wire rack (a cookie cooling rack will do)
- Metal tongs
- Clean Ball jars (or other brand of canning jars) in whatever size you like
- New Ball jar lids and rings to fit the jars
- Homemade pasta sauce – your recipe or the one here
Fill the stock pot will enough water so that the Ball jars will have an inch of water over them once they are placed in the pot. Put the lid on and bring this water to a boil. Meanwhile, if you are not taking hot pasta sauce right out of the slow cooker, you will need to begin heating up the pasta sauce so that it is hot when it is placed in the Ball jars.
Once the water in the large stock pot has come to a boil, gently place the empty Ball jars in the boiling water and let them sit for a minute or so. Remove the boiled jars and place them on the second wire rack on your kitchen counter. Carefully fill the boiled jars with hot pasta sauce to just ½ inch from the top of the jar. Wipe off any spillage from the outer rim with a clean paper towel.
Using the metal tongs, hold each jar lid in the boiling water for 45 seconds or so, and then (using tongs) place the lid on the jar. Hold the jar steady with a pot holder as you screw on the ring that holds the lid in place. Tighten it just finger tight.
When all the jars are filled, use the tongs to gently place them on the rack on the bottom of the stock pot of boiling water. Put the lid back on the pot and boil for ten minutes. After ten minutes, life the jars out and let them cook on the second rack. You may hear the lids making a popping sound – this is fine as long as the lids are ‘depressed’ after the jars cool (in other words, you don’t want to be able to push the lids up and down – if you push on the lid with your finger, there should basically be no lid movement).
Let cool, label your jars with the contents and date, and this winter you can again enjoy the taste of summer tomatoes!
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