The first time you look at the nutritional information on something so simple as a store-bought jar or tin of spaghetti sauce is a real eye opener. That store-bought stuff has large amounts of salt and sugar added, with brands labelled “organic” and “healthy” often the worst offenders.
It’s no wonder more and more people want to can homemade spaghetti sauce at home.
Can I can my own spaghetti sauce recipe?
The recommendation from reputable authorities is that you don’t can your own recipe. Freeze it instead.
To can spaghetti sauce safely in a boiling water canner, which is the type of canner most people would have, you need a recipe that will guarantee you a high-acid mixture so that botulism spores can’t germinate. Botulism spores aren’t killed by the low temperature of boiling water, so safe recipe developers rely on acidity level (below 4.6 pH) to neutralize them instead so they can’t ever germinate. When you pressure can, you actually kill the suckers right off.
Anything with meat, seafood or fish absolutely always requires a pressure canner.
And added cheese is a big no-no, regardless of the canner type. But don’t bemoan the loss of cheese in the sauce. Just add what cheese you want upon opening the jar. It’s not as though there’s a lot of cheese left in commercial brands with cheese anymore, anyway: face it, with most now, it’s like they stood across the street and threw it in.
Tested safe spaghetti sauce recipes for home canning
There is a good variety of tested spaghetti sauce recipes from reputable home canning sources.
Try a few over time, and see which one or ones prove to be favourite pantry staples in your house. If none of them are exactly what you’d want, remember what most people do with tins and jars of sauce from the store, anyway: sling them in the pot, then doctor them up as appropriate for that night’s meal.
Some starting notes
- Do NOT add extra low acid ingredients (celery, mushroom, peppers, fresh herbs, fresh onion, fresh garlic, meat, seafood, fish.) Only add what the recipe calls for them. Add extra if you wish when you open the jar. Home canned mushrooms and home canned peppers can be ideal to have on hand for this.
- Do not add oil unless the recipe calls for it, as it can interfere with heat penetration in the jar. Add a drizzle to the sauce when you open the jar.
- When it calls for acidification via the addition of *bottled* lemon juice, you have to do it. Bottled has a guaranteed acidity level so that is why they would have called for it, to knock the acidity levels down to a guaranteed level, as research has shown tomatoes vary wildly in how acidic they are.
- You are free, however, to add dry seasonings of your choice: dried herbs, salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, etc. (Keep the herbs dry, unless the recipe calls for fresh.)
- If a recipe is for water-bath canning, then do water bath it (or steam can) it: don’t try to be a keener and pressure can it. That won’t make it any safer, and there won’t be any tested times for that, anyway, with those recipes.
- If you also can for ‘singletons’, considering canning a few smaller (250 ml / 1 cup / 8 oz) jars for them; many really appreciate that single serving size because they just can’t buy it. Use the processing time for the next tested size up, which is usually half-litre (US pints.)
Spaghetti sauce recipes for water-bath canners
- Basil & Garlic Tomato Sauce
- Eggplant Pasta Sauce alla Puttanesca
- Italian Style Tomato Sauce
- Roasted Marinara Sauce
- Vodka Pasta Sauce
Minnesota Mix is not a spaghetti sauce per se, but it is a really good base for pasta sauce and baked pasta dishes.
See also “Roasted tomatoes” section below for additional water-bath canning recipes.
Spaghetti sauce recipes for pressure canning
- Spaghetti sauce (USDA)
- Spaghetti sauce with meat (USDA)
- Vegerfic Pasta Sauce (Ball) [Ed: As of July 2018, the first direction calls for boiling water canner to be prepared. Ignore that clerical error. Should read get your pressure canner out.]
- Meat sauce (Ball / Bernardin. Tip! This is the thickest, meatiest pasta sauce for home canning that we know of yet. And it can easily be made year round because it calls for tinned tomatoes.)
Spaghetti sauces using roasted tomatoes
Many people feel that roasting tomatoes is the quickest, most-energy efficient and easiest way to tackle the eternal issue of how to reduce tomatoes for a sauce.
Here are the tested pasta sauce recipes from reputable sources that we know of (as of 2017) which call on roasted tomatoes.
- Hearty Pasta Sauce (Water bath or steam canning. Ball HarvestPro Sauce Maker Manual, 2016, page 6)
- Oven-roasted marinara sauce (Water bath or steam canning. Ball All New, page 204)
- Roasted Eggplant and Pepper Putanesca Sauce (Water bath or steam canning. Ball All New, page 181)
- Roasted Roma Tomatoes (Water bath or steam canning. Ball Blue Book, 37th edition, 2014. Page 33)
- Roasted Rustic Pasta Sauce (Water bath or steam canning. Ball HarvestPro Sauce Maker Recipe Guide. 2016. Page 6.)
Out of season pasta sauces
These pasta sauces are practical to make out of season as they don’t rely on fresh tomatoes which can be very expensive out of season in the quantities required to make sauce.
- Meat sauce (Ball / Bernardin.)