Tomatoes are the most popular crop for backyard gardeners around the country. But what do you do with all of the tomatoes? Of course you can use them on sandwiches and in salads but or often than not you will have so many tomatoes you wont know what to do with them. This Roasted Tomato Sauce Recipe is the perfect answer for all of those extra tomatoes you have!
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The process of oven-roasting tomatoes brings out their rich, sweet flavor, introduces a savory punch, and also helps to thicken the sauce. When we are looking to preserve a large amount of homegrown tomatoes from the garden, this is our go-to recipe!
Even if you don’t grow your own tomatoes, I highly suggest making this sauce with fresh local tomatoes while they’re in season to enjoy later. Go hit up the farmer’s market. Your winter recipes will be so much brighter than using commercially-canned tomatoes! We have also gotten bags of cherry tomatoes from school lunches that we have frozen and then roasted down to make sauce. It is a great way to use the extra and eliminate waste.
So let’s get started!!
Ingredients and Supplies
- Tomatoes – any variety can be used!
- Olive oil, for drizzling (but do NOT use any oil if you intend to hot-bath can this recipe)
- Sea salt
- Black pepper
- Baking or roasting pan
- Large pot
- Blender – we use an immersion blender for this recipe
- Parchment paper
Wash your tomatoes and chop them into hunks. Another great thing about this recipe is that everything gets cooked and blended, so size and shape doesn’t matter – nor do you need to worry about removing the skin. We leave the guts, which enhances the caramelization process.
Cut away the firm stem center (if there is one), and then cut your tomatoes into chunks. We typically cut the smaller tomatoes in half, and larger ones into quarters or sixths. You can leave cherry tomatoes whole!
On a baking sheet, lay out all the tomato pieces – skin-side down if possible. Lining the baking sheet with parchment paper makes for a much easier clean-up, since the tomato juices tend to stick and crust to the pan while roasting. It is okay to pack the tomatoes in there, but try to keep them in a single layer. **If you find you have more tomatoes than can fit on your pans for the oven, but want to process and preserve them all, keep reading. I give you another option.
Now, drizzle the tomatoes with olive oil, and give them a sprinkle of sea salt and black pepper. Again, omit the olive oil if you wish to can your sauce.
Roast the tomatoes in the oven on 425°F for approximately 35 to 45 minutes, until they become soft and lightly browned – or even a tad blackened! If you’re working with multiple trays of tomatoes, rotate them partway through to promote even roasting.
If your tomatoes are frozen increase the time in 15 minute increments, until they are soft and lightly browned.
When exposed to high and dry heat, foods take on a whole new complex flavor profile because of the chemical reactions that take place. Namely, caramelization.
Once your tomatoes are finished roasting and you are using a traditional blender you can transfer the roasted tomatoes directly to your blender. I would allow them to cool slightly first to avoid hot splatters!
However, if you want to reduce the tomatoes even more to create an extra thick sauce transfer the roasted tomatoes into a pot on the stove. Heat and simmer to further reduce the chunky sauce to a thickness of your liking – but keep in mind it will become even thicker once it is blended!
Next, use an immersion blender to blend the tomatoes until the sauce is a smooth, creamy consistency.
Alternatively, blend your roasted tomato sauce in a classic blender in batches as needed. You could choose to leave it chunky and not blend it at all. But keep in mind the skins will be more noticeable and potentially tough if they aren’t blended.
After blending, assess the thickness. If you want it thicker even still, continue to simmer on medium-low heat to reduce further.
Now, allow that delicious, hot-roasted tomato sauce to cool down a bit. When you package it into your storage containers of choice, the temperature can still be warm – but shouldn’t be hot.
Freezing Roasted Tomato Sauce
To preserve and freeze this sauce, we typically use pint-sized mason jars. Yes, you can safely freeze food in glass jars! However, make sure you get the ones that are marked as freezer-safe. Those are usually only the wide-mouth pint, half-pint, and quarter-pint size. Glass jars with a “shoulder” are more prone to cracking in the freezer, such as quart jars or curved pints. We freeze in glass whenever possible, though we also have BPA-free plastic containers for larger quarts of frozen food.
Once the sauce is decently cooled, fill your jars up! This can be a bit messy, so we use a canning jar funnel. Maintain at least one inch of head space to allow for expansion in the freezer. Store the jars of roasted tomato sauce in the freezer, and use within one year for the best quality and flavor.
Canning Roasted Tomato Sauce
I won’t get into detailed instructions on exactly how to can tomatoes. For more detailed canning instructions, check out this guide from Colorado State University. Similar to the freezer option, it is suggested to use canned tomatoes within one year. Only proceed with canning if you didn’t use olive oil in this recipe.
To transform this sauce into a more classic Italian pasta sauce: Start by sautéing some diced onions and garlic in a pan until they’re soft and translucent. Then add the roasted tomato sauce, salt and pepper, plus fresh or dried herbs like basil, thyme, oregano, and rosemary – to taste. In the place of fresh garlic and onion, you could even substitute with garlic powder or onion powder! Simmer to combine flavors.
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If You Run Out of Room – Stewing Tomatos
For the batch of sauce we made in this example, we filled two cookie sheets and one large glass roasting pan with tomatoes. The oven was full, but we still had gobs on the counter! Rather than roasting them all in multiple batches (no time for that!) we opted to simply not roast some at all. Instead, we stewed the left over tomatoes – and combined them with the roasted ones when they came out of the oven. The flavor is still phenomenal. If you’re in the same situation, try this option!
While the initial trays of tomatoes are roasting in the oven, process your leftovers. Prepare them in a similar fashion as the others: cut away any tough stem portion, and chop them into a few chunks each. Heat a large pot on the stovetop, and add a splash of olive oil followed by the extra tomatoes. Lightly simmer the tomatoes (uncovered) the entire time the others are in the oven – at least 30 minutes. Stir occasionally. They will become soft, wonderfully fragrant, and the liquid will reduce.
So there you have it, a quick and easy way to preserve all of those extra tomatoes you have from your garden or even extra tomatoes that you get from others. This Roasted Tomato Sauce Recipe will become your go to when you find yourself with too many tomatoes!
Know someone who could use this recipe be sure to send it to them and leave me a comment below. And if you are looking to start a tomato garden be sure to check out Start a Tomato Garden.