need guidance

tayciaOctober 9, 2011

are there any approved recipes for pasta sauce from commercial canned Tomato Sauce or Puree? we are past tomato season here, and store-bought tomatoes are not necessarily an option (expense), though i am willing to go with that expense if it is the pest option for getting some pasta sauce in my pantry for this winter.


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val_s(z5 central IL)

I don't know of a completely homemade one off the top of my head but we use Mrs. Wages for our pasta sauce. For us it has just the right amount of seasonings and makes a great pasta sauce base.

I do use my own tomatoes for this but you can use canned tomatoes or tomato paste. You can usually find this in the canning section if your store carries it or you can order it online. Wait for canned tomatoes to come on sale and go for it.


Here is a link that might be useful: Mrs. Wages Pasta Sauce Mix

    Bookmark   October 9, 2011 at 4:17PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Val suggestion is the best I can think of as you won't find an "official" tested/approved canning recipe calling for using already canned sauce or puree. It just isn't recommended.

Not because it is necessarily a safety issue - that would all depend on the recipe you use to make it since the canned products already have citric acid and all sorts of stabilizers added to them. It's because re-canning already canned items does have both quality and 'efficient use of resources' issues.

It boils down to a trade off in expense, quality, and what many would consider a waste of time and energy for a bit of convenience down the line. The more efficient alternative is just to buy one of the many brands of commercially canned pasta sauce.


    Bookmark   October 9, 2011 at 4:56PM
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my issue is at this point it would cost me just as much to buy fresh lower quality hot house tomatos vs. commercial size cans of tomato puree/sauce.

My husband prefers home-made to say, Hunt's Spaghetti sauce or Ragu. The Commercial size cans of Tomato Sauce/Puree etc usually are much cheaper than even the individual cans on sale. I have always used commercially canned tomato products for my home-made sauce, i just have a lack of time as my children get older and are more involved in the community and have turned to pre-made product. I was hoping to take a step out of food prep and be able to have a reusable container (mason jar) vs. the throw away can since we do not at this time have that type of recycling available in my area.

Next year i will be able to use tomatoes from the garden we share with my Inlaws, this year i just started experimenting with canning a little late for it ;)

Thanks for the information! This website is very helpful!

    Bookmark   October 9, 2011 at 6:03PM
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I'm a little surprised to hear how problematic previously canned products can be having made Annie's salsa. It uses both canned tomato sauce and tomato paste. And both of those can either be included or not in the recipe. If it's such a problem, why can we either leave it in or out in that recipe?

    Bookmark   October 9, 2011 at 6:38PM
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I think why it doesn't make such a difference in Annie's salsa is because of what it is. Tomato sauces do little more when double processed like that than break down into thicker sauce. Where it's something like a fruit or vegetable like corn, you'd see a definite loss of texture and quality if you canned an already canned product.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2011 at 6:53PM
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lpinkmountain(5b/6a border PA)

You have a great option in freezing homeade spaghetti sauce. You could even freeze the sauce in the big quart jars although I'd use those square plastic containers. My mom always did up big pots of spaghetti sauce and then froze for later, we never had Prego or Ragu or whatever. The great thing about that is you can make the sauce however you like it, no need to worry about ingredient safety if you freeze it, so you can add meat, mushrooms, zuchinni, whatever you like.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2011 at 7:09PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

I'm a little surprised to hear how problematic previously canned products can be having made Annie's salsa. It uses both canned tomato sauce and tomato paste. And both of those can either be included or not in the recipe. If it's such a problem, why can we either leave it in or out in that recipe?

hcoon - Please don't read more into my post above than what is actually stated. I took great care to point out that it isn't a safety issue but per NCHFP, one of quality and efficient use of resources.

The textural quality of any food, home-canned or commercial canned, is affected by double processing - especially so with pressure canning. Further "home canned" normally presumes the absence of all the additives and stabilizers used in commercial products. And lastly, re-canning something that is already canned isn't usually considered efficient use of energy and/or time. OK?

Now if none of those issues are of concern to you then you are of course free to to do you as you wish but finding an approved recipe as taycia asked for will be difficult if not impossible. When it comes to low-acid foods, published USDA approved recipes for such are very rare if they exist at all. She can make it as she wishes, just has to do it without an official recipe. In those cases, freezing rather than canning is the best option.

Annie's Salsa isn't a comparable situation for several reasons. First because unlike using canned tomato puree to make pasta sauce, those particular ingredients in the salsa play a very minor role IF they are used, second because they are NOT the primary ingredient - far from it, and third because as you point out, they are purely optional.

Hope this helps clarify.


    Bookmark   October 9, 2011 at 7:35PM
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val_s(z5 central IL)


I can tell you that we've tried the Pasta Sauce, Chili Base, Pizza Sauce and Salsa (med). We've actually liked every one of them. The one thing I have to give Mrs. Wages credit for is they have the spice configurations down nicely.

I use all three of the sauces like a base but they are fine on their own. By 'base' I mean that I add my own things to them like peppers, onions, mushrooms...After I open of course. They are really easy to make also.


    Bookmark   October 9, 2011 at 8:58PM
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thanks for all the responses :)

I have frozen spaghetti sauce before, and as i have said its a convenience issue as well. Thawing the sauce takes time that i don't necessarily have (or i forget to take it out, forget its in the fridge and it spoils, etc). I know it looks like excuses, but i am weighing my options here and looking for valid and current information for home making a convenience product i pay too much for at the store.

Thanks again to everyone who has responded. I am taking each one into consideration and plan on also talking with Judy down at the MSU extention office next week :)

    Bookmark   October 9, 2011 at 10:43PM
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Thanks, Dave. I appreciate the clarification and apologize for the need for it. I have to admit I didn't read your post as carefully as I should have.

I'm just really struggling to understand all of this and keep feeling like I'm hearing contradictory information, so it's hard to make sense of everything.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2011 at 11:51PM
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val_s(z5 central IL)

keep feeling like I'm hearing contradictory information

Don't feel bad - I felt the same way when I started canning on my own. I was in my late 40's and had helped my grandma can a few times since she was getting older and needed the help.

I started wanting to can my own things to have variety and started checking the internet. When I found this place I was shocked to find out that how my grandma was canning (open kettle) was not approved for safety.

I had a lot of questions and got many answers...heck...I still have questions (especially as I get further and further into it.) Don't let it stop you from canning. Even the two main Ball books have some differences - now THAT'S confusing :-)


    Bookmark   October 10, 2011 at 7:26AM
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lpinkmountain(5b/6a border PA)

I'm totally with you on forgetting to take stuff out of the freezer/fridge etc. or changing my mind at the last minute and wanting something from the freezer. I will say that those sauces thaw out relatively quickly in the microwave if you put them up in pints, which then just means you have to thaw out two pints if you're making a big batch. That's how I do my beans now, I make them in the crockpot and freeze them in pints, which are easy enough to thaw at the last minute in the micro.

Also, look at your recipes for homeade pasta sauces, there are some cheater ways to get a long simmered taste in a quickie sauce made from plain old cheapie canned tomatoes and sauce. Like making up a batch of caramelized onions and freezing them in little individual packets and adding those to the sauce, I also freeze various pestos in ice cube trays and then pop out these really flavorful frozen cubes which I can use for all kinds of things, including pasta sauce, and using jarred roasted garlic or jarred roasted red peppers (you could find some of those cheap and can them right now!), adding some roasted cherry tomatoes to thicken the sauce, etc. Oh, and I've heard adding a pat of butter makes the best sauce and I can believe it. I have yet to try that but plan on doing it sometime soon. I've gotten making a homeade batch of pasta sauce down to an art form, I can usually whip up a pretty good sauce in 20 min. or so. But I like the lighter sauces anyway. Plus I use all kinds of pre-frozen things like peppers, onions, spinach, etc. About the only thing that I can't do quickly is nice sauteed mushrooms. That can't be rushed.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2011 at 10:59AM
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I like the idea of having some pre-frozen stuff! I may have a cooking day where i just freeze up some sauteed ingredients LOL!

I am only 3 days into canning, and i went for the big guns with pressure canning. I am really enjoying the idea of opening my pantry and KNOWING that "I made that!". So far i have canned pinto beans (yes...convenience issue ;) ) and Boston Baked Beans. Today i am working on veggie beef soup for my DH because he likes to have ready to eat things for his lunches. I am really excited and have gotten lots of good feedback at how brave i am for going straight to using a pressure canner vs starting out with jams and pickles. I can get Jam and Pickles from just about anywhere (MIL has a whole pantry full of jam/pickles/salsa), but i wanted to learn to store things we eat on a daily basis to save a little $$ with the rising food costs out here in Eastern MT.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2011 at 2:00PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

I am only 3 days into canning, and i went for the big guns with pressure canning.

Ahh, that explains alot. :) I'm hoping you understand that even with the pressure canner we still can't can our own made-up recipes, right? Many new to pressure canning make the mistake of assuming it will allow them to safely can just about anything.

I assume you have done your homework at the NCHFP website or that you at least have the Ball Blue Book so you have access to all the basic canning information? Jumping into pressure canning without that info can be quite risky.

For example the guidelines require that your dried beans be rehydrated first and then there is the 1/2 and 1/2 rule, solids to liquids, for canning soups?

So it was pasta sauce you want to can and you say your DH prefers your home made sauce. We would need to see the whole recipe you use to know if it was safe to can. If you'll post that maybe we can advise on how you can convert the recipe to one of the approved canning ones while using the canned tomatoes. The Spaghetti Sauce without Meat recipe at NCHFP for example calls for 40 lbs. of tomatoes which are then peeled and pureed and cooked down. That would reduce their weight of course so perhaps 30 lbs. of canned tomatoes would work. You'd have to do much of the seasoning 'to taste' since the other measurements wouldn't work but it is possible.

And there is still Val's suggestion of using the Mrs. Wages mixes. That way there is no safe issue since the mixes contain citric acid.


    Bookmark   October 10, 2011 at 3:37PM
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yes i am using only approved recipes and did research before canning. If i hadn't i wouldn't necessarily be here asking questions and would be on my ladeedah way by now ;)

    Bookmark   October 10, 2011 at 4:38PM
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i am using the baked bean and pinto bean recipe guides from the NCHFP website.

i am having problems getting my pasta sauce recipe to post so i will keep trying.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2011 at 5:11PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

No offense was intended but we have to ask. It is too easy to mislead you or make invalid assumptions if we don't have an idea of you experience level. Many new canners don't know the questions they should be asking and many have done little research into it before jumping in.

Experience here has proven time and time again that those new to pressure canning are prone to making some serious errors/assumptions. So we have to ask.


    Bookmark   October 10, 2011 at 7:25PM
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i appreciate it dave! most of my questions have been answered on the NCHP page, but there of course were some things i obviously needed clarification on before tackling ;). i luckily am a perfectionist by nature so i like to make sure e i am doing it right before i do it. and again, i appreciate all the feedback on this thread even though i didn't post it properly.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2011 at 9:14PM
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talking about the inexperineced and assumptions, on one board a newbie asked about canning a pork chop (it was for a gag type gift) and got all the info and did the job.

Afterwards she came back and asked a few questions as it didn't turn out quite like expected, and after several back and forth discussions, she commented that since she only did a few jars and was worried about them tipping over, she laid them on there side in the canner.

She was familiar with BWB, but had borrowed the pressure canner. She asked a lot of questions before hand, but she didn't ask one she should have - what to do if you have only a few jars to can up.

Taycia, I'm like you, I like to research and ask a lot of questions before I jump into something new. But the more one reads on message boards, the more one realized that a lot of people are ready to jump in with both feet with little knowlege.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2011 at 10:29AM
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