Sep 012012

DSC_0314 for blog

Who doesn’t love having a jar of marinara in the pantry?  It’s so comforting to have; it’s nearly an instant meal.

Pour it in a pot with a bit of cream, and you have tomato bisque.

Smear it on some dough and you have pizza.

Bake a spaghetti squash while you raid the rest of your pantry, and you have a gorgeous, healthy plate of Puttanesca.

Brown up some Italian sausage while you boil water, toss in some pasta and throw in your marinara and boom, dinner is served.

Look how thick and luscious it is!

But buying it in the store isn’t always cheap, and sometimes there are some questionable ingredients included.  So what do you do when you have a garden-full of tomatoes and an empty pantry?  Make marinara!  This recipe is ten times more flavorful and healthier than anything you’d find at your local grocery.  And . . . you don’t even need any special equipment to make it.  The recipe, as written, is pH balanced to be acidified enough to safely can without a pressure-canner.


makes 6 quarts

from Putting Up More: A guide to canning jams, relishes, chutneys, pickles, sauces, and salsas by Stephen Palmer Dowdney

  • 14 pounds canning tomatoes, peeled and finely chopped (I use the food processor to chop)
  • 24 ounces tomato paste
  • 4 cups finely chopped white onion (food processor again, for me!)
  • 1 cup minced celery
  • 1 cup minced carrot
  • 1 cup olive oil, divided
  • 1 bell pepper, small-diced
  • 20 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups white wine (not too dry)
  • 1 cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 – 1/2 Tablespoons chopped, tightly packed fresh oregano
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped, tightly packed fresh basil leaves
  • 2 teaspoons chopped, tightly packed fresh parsley
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons coarsely ground pepper
  • 6 bay leaves
  • Clean, sanitized canning jars and two piece lids

A Note: pH is critical for this recipe to be safe and must be monitored and kept below 4.3.  The wine, vinegar, tomatoes and paste are the acid forces. If pH requires lowering, add 1/4 teaspoon citric acid and mix well; continue until pH is at 4.2.  You can check for pH by using pH Test Strips or, if your husband makes homemade wine, he might have one of these pH Meters laying around, ahem . . . if you are curious or have more questions about this technique, I highly recommend checking out Stephen Palmer Dowdney’s two books on canning,, I own both and love them!


Put the tomatoes in a nonreactive pot with the tomato paste and stew for 20 minutes or until beginning to thicken.  Saute the onion, celery and carrot in a little olive oil until the onion is clear, before adding with the rest of the oil to the tomatoes along with the bell pepper.  Simmer for an additional 15 minutes.

Add the remaining ingredients, bring to 200 degrees F, checking with a candy thermometer, and hold, stirring often, until thick.

Retrieve the bay leaves and place one in each quart jar. Check pH of the sauce and adjust if necessary (see note, above).

Bring the temperature of the sauce up to 205 degrees Fahrenheit before ladling sauce into sterile jars, sealing with two part lids, and inverting for 2 minutes, minimum.



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