Tomato-Basil Sauce

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes


    one pint jars

Appears in

The Art of Preserving

The Art of Preserving

By Lisa Atwood, Rebecca Courchesne and Rick Field

Published 2012

  • About

This pantry staple is easy to prepare. You don’t need to peel the tomatoes, because a food mill or sieve removes the peels and most of the seeds after the tomatoes are cooked. Adding lemon juice just before processing the sauce contributes some acidity, making it safer for storage.


  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 yellow onions, coarsely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 10 lb (5 kg) tomatoes, cut into chunks
  • ½ cup (4 fl oz/125 ml) dry red wine (optional)
  • ½ cup (¾ oz/20 g) finely chopped fresh basil
  • ¼ cup (2 fl oz/60 ml) fresh lemon juice
  • tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground pepper


Have ready hot, clean jars and their lids.

In a large nonreactive saucepan over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, 5–7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes longer.

Add the tomatoes and the wine, if using. Raise the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until reduced by half, about 1 hour.

Pass the tomato mixture through a food mill or coarse-mesh sieve set over a clean, large nonreactive saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the sauce reaches the desired consistency. Stir in the basil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings.

Ladle the hot sauce into the jars, leaving ¼ inch (6 mm) of headspace. Remove any air bubbles and adjust the headspace, if necessary. Wipe the rims clean and seal tightly with the lids.

Process the jars for 30 minutes in a boiling-water bath (for detailed instructions, including cooling and testing seals, Canning Step by Step). The sealed jars can be stored in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year. If a seal has failed, store the jar in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.