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Family Traditions: Making our own Homemade Tomato Sauce

Anyone who knows my husband and I knows how much we love traditions – we love to make new ones and most importantly carry on traditions from childhood and those passed down in our families. We are very much children at heart but we also value hard work and have an old soul. We love to cook, we love to eat and sit down and listen to stories of how our families came to Canada or were born in another part of Canada and how they too carried on traditions that they had learned and have passed them down to us. We believe that carrying on traditions is the best way to honour those that had shown them or taught them to us and it makes us really happy to be part of that!

One of the traditions that we began on our own this year and had originally learned last Summer is how to make Tomato Sauce! My husband had been really wanting to make this for quite some time and we have family and friends that do. We would often see pics online of the “tomato sauce making season” and would get the pleasure of tasting and indulging in a delicious pasta and sauce meal and let’s face it – the jars from the store (in our opinion) just cannot compare to that homemade taste (not to mention the added ingredients and cost to buying those jars week after week!).

When we had inquired about how to make the sauce as we can understand now (having gone through the process twice now) it first appeared as if some family and friends were somewhat shocked as to us even wanting to learn and actually going forward with making the sauce. Yes, it seemed that way at first and my husband and I would try to convince everyone that YES in fact, we DO want to learn how to make it and we will participate as well, we promise! When it comes to making sauce, there are very clear standards and by all means, we completely agree! That is, that if you want to take the sauce home then you make the sauce – it is a team effort. It is a tradition, love, honour and testament of the amount of hard work that goes into those jars. A lot of sweat, time, hours and elbow grease goes into it. So, having taken part in the process and making the sauce on our own, it is a very long day, BUT it is a GREAT long term investment to get the materials and tools but also an investment and time very well spent and completely worth it!

When we had the pleasure and honour of approaching and learning from wonderful family friends of my husband and my father-in-law’s side, we kind of had the same feeling – they were a bit in shock (which is completely understandable, us being young) but they were very honoured and proud of us wanting to learn the ropes and participate and learn one of their traditions. We had arrived there at 7 a.m. (I believe originally it was a 6 a.m. start time (“The early bird gets the worm!”) and yes I just justified the us “being young” part arriving a tad bit later, haha) but, we made it and got our bushels the week of – 6 of them. Now being September and having made it last Summer, we have about one case left (12 jars). Our family friend had called my husband to kindly tell him when and where to get the bushels of tomatoes. It was an amazing experience, learning how to make the sauce, their patience as we took notes and pictures step by step and talking about stories and getting to know each other more. They are truly amazing people and we are so happy that we got to experience, participate and learn this tradition and process hands-on from them – not to mention, ending off that day with a delicious bowl of pasta and homemade sauce at their home!

So, this year we had planned to make the sauce and did so on the Labour Day long weekend. Just my husband and I, excitedly carrying on and starting our own tradition, sweating it out, spending quality time together, peeling, cooking and jarring. Here is how we made our Tomato Sauce!

Here is a list of what you need:

We had purchased the tools this Summer and were able to get a discount which is great! My husband said that one of the owners of the family owned business was so happy that my husband went to buy the materials and that he was going to make the sauce on his own telling my husband “Congratulations!” and shook his hand – so that definitely helped and we are happy to be carrying on this tradition! Hehe.

Supplies were purchased from Adamo Imports Limited Housewares & Gifts.

-Roma Tomatoes (Bushels – based on how much sauce you would like to make/will need) from Longo's approximately:

12, 1 Litre wide mouth mason jars: 1 bushel

-Fresh Basil leaves (About 1 per jar)

-Salt & Sugar (1/4 cup of salt per bushel, app. 1 Tsp per bushel)

-2 plastic drums (which are two 5 gallon pails) one with holes drilled for straining and one with no holes

-Aluminum tomato scooper


-White oak paddle spoon (large)

-Clear Plastic bags (large compostable garbage bags) for the seeds and skins of tomatoes

-2 medium aluminum saucers with lid – we just bought one

-A separator/Juicer (machine to separate seeds and skin to juice)

-Outdoor propane burner

-Propane tank

-Jug to scoop the sauce from large aluminum pot into jars

-Gloves (for jarring the sauce when it is hot)

-1 Litre jars – we got a 12 pack in a case from WALMART (App. Ratio 12 1 Litre Jars: 1 bushel of tomatoes)

-Damp towel to wipe up any spills or hands

-Knives (to cut tomatoes)

-Towels to cover tomatoes

-Paper towel to lay basil on top

-Ziploc Bags (mini and or large storage bags) to store extra sauce and put in freezer if you run out of jars

-A large pot (stovetop cooking pot) for extra sauce (if you don’t have any jars left) to cool off in and then place in ziploc

-Chairs and a long table for materials and for when you cut the tomatoes

-Some elbow grease

-Soap, Water and a Sponge to wash tools and materials

-Laundry sink or regular sink to wash whole tomatoes with water


-The evening before, wash the tomatoes with cool water in the sink, put it back in the bushel and in the garage to dry

-Our tools and materials were brand new, so we washed them with a bit of soap and lukewarm water as well.

-Clean your jars out as well, dry them fully and then close them

-Cut the tomatoes in half vertically, cut the green stem out and any other portions that are bad.

-Wash your basil leaves with some water, and lay out to dry between two paper towels on the table.

-Take the cut tomatoes and put them in the aluminum pan

-Start the burner ***Follow the instructions on the manual very carefully and be safe with the propane tank and burner*** Bring to a boil for about 20 minutes. This loosens the tomato and keep stirring so that it does not stick or burn.

-Take out the tomatoes with the large aluminum scooper/strainer, allowing the water to strain out into the aluminum pan. Put them into the bucket that has holes and is sitting on top of the regular buckets, without the holes, so that it can drain. Keep the tomatoes covered in the bucket, as you conitue to take them out of the pan.

-Pour that remaining juice out of the pan and into the bucket to discard.

-Once drained, put the loosened tomatoes through the strainer machine a bit at a time, and feed it through. The machine separates the skin and seeds on one side, into a bucket and on the other side, the sauce pours directly into the aluminum pan.

-*Take the skins and seeds that came out into the bucket and strain those through the machine once again, to strain any remaining sauce into the aluminum pan. This allows you to use the majority of the fine juices of the tomato.*

My husband drilled holes in a few buckets for straining/draining:

-We were taught to cook the sauce for about 30 minutes to one hour. Cook time depends on when you use the jar of sauce if you want to cook it longer or just heat it up. Add in your sugar and salt. (See "what you need list" above for our measurement guide)

-While that cooks, one of us cleaned up the materials and tools, the other filled the jars with basil.

-After the cooking is complete, set up your jars on the table for easy filling, have your lids in a box/tray beside them as well.

-Carefully scoop the sauce out it's HOT (we use a 1 Litre measuring cup) and place the jar on a plate, funnel at the top, and pour into the jars. We wear gloves to tighten the jars, as the sauce is very hot.

-We put them back into the bushels and cover them with a towel to try and retain the heat as long as possible and to help seal the jars.

*There are many different ways in terms of the process and tools used to make the sauce, we just wanted to share how we make ours* :)


After you jar the sauce, you can store it in the garage covered for about a week so that the jar seals and cools down. We keep the cardboard that the jars came in and store the jars of tomato sauce in them, in the basement, outside of the cold room (keep it at room temperature). If you pack some sauce in the ziplocs, make sure it has cooled down before filling the bags, then you can store in the freezer.

Last year we gave some away to family and as part of a gift or when we went to a dinner or BBQ and enjoyed it ourselves in multiple meals. We made 6 bushels and we currently have about a box, 12 jars of sauce left and a few small bags of frozen sauce in the freezer. This year, we filled about 50 jars and about 3 large Ziploc storage bags about 2/3 of the way. You can use the sauce in pasta dishes, chilli, lasagna, on pizza and in many more recipes!


Fry up some olive oil, some garlic, and bit of dried basil and oregano in a sauce pot. Add in some tomato paste to thicken up the sauce – warm it up on the stovetop for 10 minutes or longer if you want it to just simmer longer (smells amazing) and add some veggies, meats, etc., or have on its own on top of pasta and enjoy!


Since the jars are sealed tightly, to open the jar, we run the mouth of the lid under warm water to help loosen it and then peel the inner round lid off (or I just have my husband open it for me hehe). After you open the jar of sauce and if you do not use the full jar, you can keep the remaining sauce in the fridge for up to a week.

These adorable jar lids were from Dollarama – we had purchased them earlier in the Summer!

Making something that is homemade and like the jar lids say: “Homemade with Love” – it is just that – when we make a meal we are taught how it does take time and effort and there are steps to it and certain ingredients – it’s a process and you put your love into making a meal and you enjoy it and when you see your loved one’s enjoying it and you as well, that is what makes it all worth it. You put your all into a dish and share it with others.

Making sauce is certainly not easy, but it is totally worth it! We get to make the sauce and spend time together, it saves us time and money (from having to go to the store each week and buy jars of sauce), we know what is in the sauce and we appreciate it even more each time we have a meal with it knowing that we made this together and are so proud of it! We look forward to continuing to carry on this tradition and enjoying some delicious sauce!

Have you made or tried homemade pasta sauce? What is your favourite tomato sauce dish?

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