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Homemade Tomato Sauce

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Homemade tomato sauce is simple to make and in my opinion, superior to store bought sauce. It’s easy to make and the more times you make it the easier it gets. If you like tomato sauce try making it once a month and see how many ways you can use it.

In late summer I try to make all things tomato using the explosion of fresh tomatoes available. For the other nine months of the year I make sauces and soups using canned tomatoes. They are often more tasty than the fresh tomatoes available plus they are readily available and economical. I also have some in my pantry.

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To Puree or Not To Puree Homemade Tomato Sauce

If you’re making homemade tomato sauce you get to decide on the consistency every time you make it. My husband loves to puree his tomato sauce but I’m always on the fence. I enjoy the smoothest hummus possible and drinkable soup shooters, but I like texture too. I’m just never sure if the extra effort of pureeing the sauce and the resulting clean up sways me to vote for leaving the sauce chunky. So in our kitchen the person cooking decides to puree or not to puree.

A pot of Homemade Tomato Sauce surrounded by some of the ingredients.
Homemade Tomato Sauce -photo credit Jim Little

Blender vs Food Mill

Once the decision is made then you need to decide what tool to use. My husband loves to put the immersion blender right into the pot and puree the whole thing. The hand blender is the easiest tool to do this as moving hot sauce in and out of a food processor or regular blender can be tricky and messy. However, any of these methods will give you a decent pureed sauce.

Decent, but not the velvety smooth texture you get from using a food mill.

A food mill is a simple, inexpensive tool that sits on top of a bowl. Turning the crank moves a metal plate that forces the food through the sieve on the bottom. This method holds back some of the fibres no matter how long you keep turning. This is ideal to keep out seeds, skins and cores when making jam or jelly. For tomato sauce it keeps out the fibre from the vegetables. French chefs assure cooks that it leaves all the flavour but seeing that bulky mass of squished vegetables always causes us to debate this practise. Is it wasteful? What else can we do with it? Would the dog eat it?

But there is no debate about the texture. A food mill wins hand down to give you the most velvety smooth texture for any sauce. You can easily see the difference in texture in the two photos in this post. Try both ways and see what you think.

Get The Tools

You need nothing more than the basics to make homemade tomato sauce. Here is a list of tools that I find helpful.

Let me know in the comments below if you tried making tomato sauce for the first time or if you’ve been making it for years.

Recipes To Use Tomato Sauce

Tomato sauce goes well on pasta but there are so many more ways to enjoy it. Here are just a few of my ideas.

A piece of pesto lasagna sprinkled with parsley sitting beside a stack of colourful bowls.
Pesto Lasagna -photo credit Jim Little


1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
1-2 carrots, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
2 cans (28 oz/ 796ml) diced or whole tomatoes with liquid
2 Tbsp tomato paste
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1 tsp oregano
½ tsp basil
1 whole clove, crushed
1 Tbsp sugar
½ cup red wine
salt and pepper to taste


Heat oil and butter in large pot over medium heat.
Sauté onion until transparent, about 5 minutes.
Add carrot and celery and sauté another 5 minutes.
Add tomatoes, tomato paste, garlic, bay leaf, oregano, basil, clove, sugar and wine. Increase heat and bring sauce to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat, simmer uncovered for 1 hour or until vegetables are soft.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serve chunky or puree for a rich, thick sauce.
Puree - Set food mill over a bowl, add sauce and strain through food mill.
-If sauce is too thin, simmer on low heat and reduce to desired consistency.
-If sauce is too thick, add a little water or stock.


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