Basil and Garlic Tomato Sauce

This is a delicious, simple, easy to make home-canned sauce for pasta or other uses. The recipe, from the Ball Blue Book, is also sugar and salt free straight out of the book, which makes it extra healthy.

Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword Pasta Sauce, Tomatoes
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 3 hours
Yield 7 half-litre (US pint / 16 oz) jars
Calories 131 kcal


  • 9 kg tomatoes (20 lbs / about 60 medium) OR 3 litres (US quarts) of tomato passata (4 x 700 ml bottles is close enough)
  • 150 g onion (chopped. 1 cup / 5 oz / 1 large. Measured after prep.)
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 20 g basil (fresh. 1/4 cup minced / .5 oz)
  • lemon juice (bottled, OR citric acid)
Metric - US Customary


  1. If starting from tomatoes, wash, core and quarter the tomatoes. Set aside.
  2. Peel and chop onion. Set aside.
  3. Peel and mince garlic. Set aside.
  4. Wash basil, discard stems, mince finely. Set aside.
  5. Take a large pot. Add the onion, garlic and oil.
  6. Sauté until onion starts to look clear.
  7. If starting from tomatoes: Add the tomatoes to the pot. Cook uncovered for 20 minutes, stirring often. Pass mixture through a food mill or sieve to remove all the skin and seeds. Return strained tomato and onion purée to pot.
  8. If using passata: put onion mixture in a food processor or blender. Add some of the passata. Blend until smooth. Put in pot, add all the remaining passata.
  9. Add prepared basil to pot.
  10. If starting from tomatoes, cook uncovered over medium heat until volume is reduced by a half. About 1 hour.
  11. If starting from passata, simmer uncovered 10 minutes.
  12. Regardless of how you started, stir often to avoid scorching at the bottom of the pot.
  13. MANDATORY. Acidify jars. To each half-litre/ pint jar add either 1 tablespoon bottled lemon juice OR 1/4 teaspoon citric acid. To each litre/quart jar add either 2 tablespoons bottled lemon juice OR 1/2 teaspoon citric acid.
  14. Ladle sauce into heated jars.
  15. Leave 2 cm (1/2 inch) headspace.
  16. Debubble, adjust headspace.
  17. Wipe jar rims.
  18. Put lids on.
  19. Process in a water bath or steam canner.
  20. Process jars 35 minutes for half-litres (pints), 40 minutes for litres (quarts). Increase time as needed for your altitude.