Recipe 32: Fresh Homemade Tomato Sauce

Fresh, simple, and perfectly seasoned.

Tomato sauce is a kitchen staple for me. I use it in anything from Indian food, to pastas and pizzas.

This year, I was blessed with a ton of tomatoes coming in from not only my parents’s backyard garden but an immense gift from my grandparents in form of at least 10 lbs of the reddest, juiciest, most aromatic I’ve ever seen!

Grandpa Mayer showing one of his many varieties of tomatoes.

The basic idea is such:

  • 1. Ripen until the tomatoes are a rich red and start to get soft.
  • 2. Take out the stem, peel, and core.
  • 3. Crush by hand and let simmer to half their volume in a large pot. Add whatever you like to flavor it.
  • 4. Pureé in a food processor and strain (if you like a thinner sauce, I prefer the lumps…)

It’s a relatively simple way to make your own perfectly-seasoned sauce. And it’s so easy it’s amazing I didn’t know how to make this before. I’m going to go over the technique and plug in some lovely photos along the way!

Recipe 32: Fresh Homemade Tomato Sauce

Total time: 3+ hrs of simmering. (As long as it takes to reduce to half the volume…)


  • Variable amt of tomatoes. You’ll get half out in volume, so consider that in your purchase.
  • Salt, Pepper to taste
  • Variable amt of mix-ins, I recommend: crushed garlic, red wine, worcestershire sauce, olive oil, minced onion, oregano, & thyme for a classic garlic sauce.
Rinse all tomatoes and remove the green stem with a paring knife. Flip the tomato over and make an ‘X’ on the underside with your knife. Get a large pot of water boiling, and an equally large bowl of ice water to set next to it.

Put a small "x" on the bottom (non-stem) side with a paring knife.

A fine mesh strainer will allow you to scoop batches back and forth. At the end of that line, add another large bowl to hold your peeled and cored tomatoes. It helps to have a clear path to the sink, as peeling and coring gets messy and it’s best to do it there.
Use the mesh strainer to gauge how many tomatoes will fit in each batch (only as many as you can scoop at once), and carry the first batch to the boiling water. Plunge them in for 60 seconds, and then scoop them straight into the ice bath for 30 seconds. Remove the chilled tomatoes to the sink, where you can peel and core. (The peel should come off easily). Continue to do these in batches until you’ve worked through all your tomatoes.

They come off easily at this point...

In a large pot, you can add oil and cook your onions and aromatics like garlic a bit, or if you like, just add your prepared tomatoes and crush them with your hands. This is the fun part, but make sure you’re not wearing a nice shirt. Somehow I had tomato seeds behind my glasses…

Add your spices (I did equal amounts of salt and pepper), to taste...

Cook your mixture down until it’s at half the original volume. It’s best to cook on med-low setting so you don’t scorch the bottom of the mixture.
Remove to a heat-safe bowl and dip some crusty bread in to make sure it tastes good. Keep dipping until you’re 100% sure of this. ;)
You really can personalize this sauce however you want.
Make sure you don’t over-season with salt and pepper in the beginning. It’s best to wait until the final volume (otherwise you’ll have a really salty sauce once the water cooks off!)

This sauce freezes really well, so save some for when you have a last-minute pasta or pizza craving.


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