Recipe: Freezer Marinara Sauce

Yep, we've been on a tomato craze of late. But before you know it, those sweet jewels of summer will be a distant memory, so we're making the most of the sun-kissed juicy goodness while it lasts. Enter small-batch freezer marinara sauce -- as in a pot of sauce from fresh tomatoes that you can portion out and put in the freezer for a cold, dark night when you need a reminder of 85 degrees. If this is your first time doing something like this, five pounds is just the right amount. (Then next year, you can graduate to ten.) You'll get about 6 cups of sauce, enough to fill three pint-sized jars. The details follow, but if  you need some visual cues, have a looksee at our how-to photo gallery from our demo at Wallingford earlier this week. 

Freezer Marinara Sauce

  • 5 pounds plum tomatoes: Romas, Granaderos, Stupice, Amish Paste, San Marzano among the possible varieties
  • 2 or 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup fresh or storage onion, finely diced

Thoroughly wash the tomatoes and remove any boo-boos, dings or signs of deterioration. Slice in half lengthwise. 

Place tomatoes in a large pot fitted with a lid, and add a few tablespoons of water.  Over medium heat, warm the tomatoes so that the skins can begin to soften and the juices can start to release.  Use a potato masher to crush and stir the tomatoes, making sure that they do not burn. You want the mixture to be warm and well crushed. 

In small batches, process the tomatoes through a food mill to remove the skins and seeds. You will end up with puree. 

Return the puree to the large pot and add the garlic and onion. Bring up to a lively simmer, then reduce heat to low and cook until the sauce thickens. Texture is cook’s choice, but at a minimum, you want the texture of heavy cream.  For 5 pounds of tomatoes, this should take about 45 minutes (for larger batches, this can take up to 2 hours).

Cool, then transfer to a roasting pan or baking dish that can easily fit into your refrigerator and thoroughly chill, at least 1 hour. 

Transfer to freezer-safe pint jars or freezer bags, leaving some room for puree to expand as it solidifies.

Makes about 6 cups.

No food mill? You can blanch tomatoes in boiling water to remove skins. As for seeds, you can remove by hand, or keep intact (cook’s choice), then briefly cook the tomatoes by themselves to soften/crush. Puree tomatoes using a hand-held or stand blender. THEN simmer as directed above.