If you saw our article in September, you know what a catastrophe our first attempt at canning tomato sauce was. Rejoice! Using the advice (and criticism) we received from readers like yourself, we finally got it all together. We learned that it doesn't have to be complicated and you don't need expensive equipment.
Just as andielee, a reader, commented (confirmed by Lenny Procacci of Procacci Brothers in Philadelphia), there is a method that has been tried and true for many years that works without even having to boil the jars of sauce. Here's how it goes:
“You need hot jars and hot tomato sauce. Fill the jars, hand tighten the lids, put the jars upside down on a large towel on a table (or other handy surface), let cool overnight, and there you go! Sealed jars!”
Lenny said he has been doing it this way for 10 years and hasn’t had a bad jar yet!
We were a little skeptical, but we decided to try it out.
We put our quart jars (open and upside down) in the bottom section of the dishwasher and ran them on a regular cycle (no soap) with "heated drying" to sanitize and heat the jars. We had previously cleaned and processed our Roma tomatoes through the juicer. We then put the “reject” pulp through the juicer four or five times to reduce waste. Nancy thinks twice is enough, but I tended towards four or five times. Since I was processing, my method was implemented. We cooked the processed sauce with basil and parsley added while the jars were sanitizing in the dishwasher - about 1 ½ hours - at a high simmer.
We also sterilized the lids and rings by boiling them for five to seven minutes. When done, they were left in the hot water to prevent contamination. We tried to time their completion with the jar sanitizing/heating process.
When the jars were finished, we turned off the sauce and checked the lids. We only took three jars out of the dishwasher at a time so that the others would remain hot. We were told, “HOT JARS!!”
To each jar we poured in about ½ cup of hot tomato sauce and then added two tablespoons of lemon juice (for acidity), one teaspoon of sugar (to counteract the sour effect of the lemon juice), and one teaspoon of salt (to preserve the color). This was all mixed by some vigorous swirling. We then filled each jar to within about ½ - 1 inch of the top of the jar, wiped the rim and edges clean, placed a sterilized lid on top, and hand tightened a ring to close. The jars were then (carefully!!) placed upside down on a large, thick tablecloth on the kitchen table. The process was repeated until the sauce was gone. We covered them all with a large towel so they would cool slowly. We breathed sighs of relief when nothing leaked out and none of the jars blew up!
From about 35 pounds of tomatoes, we ended up with 11 ½ quart jars. The half jar was placed in the refrigerator for immediate use.
The next day, when the rings were removed from the jars, we were pleasantly surprised/relieved to find that all the lids on the jars had sealed! No exploding jars, no boiling large quantities of water for extended periods of time. This method cuts WAY down on your canning time!
For more information, go to the USDA website and check out their publication, “USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning.”
In the meantime, try the hot jar, hot sauce method and enjoy!