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Big Batch Tomato Sauce

Suit up and sauce on! Late summer is the time to roll up those sleeves and batch cook some sauce, people.

This sauce is a saving grace for those late summer, super-ripe, slightly bruised, and even blemished tomatoes.

Put in the time, listen to a podcast, have an adult beverage (with or without alcohol) and chef it out.

Yes, this calls for a bunch of garlic. It’s in the title for heaven’s sakes. Roasting makes it mild and sweet, so add as much as you like. It’s your sauce…

Yield: apx. 6 pints


4 medium heads of garlic (or more if you like)
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 medium red peppers, cut in half lengthwise, seeds removed
14 pounds ripe tomatoes, peeled and partially seeded*
3 tablespoons brown sugar (or more as needed)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (or more as needed)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon whole fennel seeds, crushed
2 cups lightly packed fresh basil leaves, chiffonade (ribbon cut)
1/2 cup of mixed chopped fresh herbs (parsley, oregano, scant amount of fine minced rosemary

If you are canning: 6 tablespoons lemon juice or 1 ½ teaspoon of citric acid for a more neutral flavor

*To peel and seed tomatoes: Bring about 8 cups of water to boil in a medium sauce pot. Wash tomatoes and cut an “X” in the bottom of each tomato. Carefully drop 2 or 3 tomatoes into the boiling water. Once the skin at the “X” cut begins to loosen and curl, remove the tomatoes with a slotted spoon to a sheet pan and repeat with the remaining tomatoes. Cool and use a paring knife to peel away the skin and cut away any blemishes and the hard core at the stem. Cut tomatoes in half at the equator and gently squeeze each half to release most of the seeds. (No need to remove all of them.)



1. Preheat oven to 425°F (or 400°F convection). Cut the top off each garlic bulb and place them, top side up in a medium baking dish. Drizzle tops with just one tablespoon of the oil, sprinkle with salt and cover the dish tightly with foil. Toss pepper halves in the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, and place with cut sides down on a parchment lined baking sheet. Place both the pan and the dish in the oven. Tip: Save garlic pieces from trimmed garlic tops for stock or other use.

2. Roast peppers for about 40 minutes until skins are lightly blackened. Remove and cool. Remove foil from garlic and continue to roast for about 10 to 15 more minutes or until cloves are lightly browned on top and some cloves have popped out of the skins. Cool to room temperature. When peppers are cool enough, peel off skins. Tip: Discard skins or save for stock.

3. To remove garlic, squeeze the heads from the bottom up to push put the pulp. Place about 5 halves of the peeled tomatoes into a food processor or blender along with the roasted garlic pulp and process until very well blended. Tip: Cut off root end and save the squeezed garlic heads for stock.

4. Transfer to a large 7- to 8-quart, non-reactive and heavy bottomed pot. Process the remaining tomatoes and peppers in batches and add to the pot.

5. Add brown sugar, vinegar, salt, black pepper and crushed fennel seeds, stir and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered, for about 45 minutes, stirring frequently making sure to stir the sauce up from the bottom of the pot to insure it isn’t sticking and burning on the bottom. Simmer until sauce reaches desired consistency. Taste and adjust vinegar, salt and sugar as desired. Remove from heat; cool slightly and stir in basil and assorted herbs. Cool and refrigerate, freeze or can. (See note below)

For canning: Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice (if using) into each of six hot sterilized pint canning jars or stir citric acid directly into the sauce. Ladle hot pasta sauce into each jar up to ½ inch from the top of the jar, wipe edges and top with flat lids and screw tops. Process filled jars in a boiling-water canner for 35 minutes (start timing when water returns to boiling). Remove carefully and cool.

Flavor Saver Tip: Save pepper skins, tomato seeds and skins (not the stem or core) and the garlic peels (not the hard root) and toss into the tomato blanching water. Add additional bones, vegetables or stock and simmer for about 30 – 40 minutes, strain, cool and freeze for a base for soups, sauces, etc.

Recipes courtesy of Chef Rachelle, Kitchens to Life

See this recipe prepared in the cooking demonstration “Saving Summer: Cooking Techniques & Tips for Using Garden Fresh Produce,” co-hosted by StopWaste, BayREN, and Kitchens to Life here:

Additional Storage Tips

Veggie Snacks
Freeze any extra tomato sauce, pesto, or other sauces for future simple defrosting needs
Ice Cube Storage
Hearty Greens