This year’s tomato harvest was bountiful. My mother has spent countless hours boiling and canning what seems like endless amounts of tomatoes from their heirloom plants in the high tunnel, and down in the lower field. Friends are sharing photo after photo of tomatoes on Facebook and Instagram that just. keep. coming.
Even the little cherry tomatoes growing in my container garden ended up huge, growing nearly to the tip of our house’s roof! In fact, here it is October, and I still have tomatoes ripening — hopefully they’ll ready to pick before we get our first frost.
You can only eat so many tomatoes on salads and sandwiches, or chopped up and tossed on pasta or pizza, or in a marinara. If you’re not careful, you’ll end up with overflowing counters and crisper bins, as the tomato yield outpaces your ability to eat.
Enter tomato sauce made with fresh tomatoes.
Like I mentioned above, my mother cans tomatoes the old fashioned way, boiling them down, blending them, and then canning them so that they can sit beautifully on her pantry shelf for months and months and months.
I don’t have that kind of patience (except once when I made a slew of strawberry preserves and canned them … 10 years ago).
Instead, I make and store tomato sauce a different and more simple way!
Homemade Slow Cooker Tomato Sauce
Yes, friends. The slow cooker comes to the rescue again! Whether it’s applesauce, chicken stock, or tomato sauce, I love the fact that I can “set and forget” everything for hours, then come back and give a little prep and be done.
For this batch, I sliced the tops off two grocery bags half-full of heirloom tomatoes from the garden. They were mostly yellow, which meant the sauce was going to be … a deep golden color. (Beautiful, by the way!)
Next I rough chopped the tomatoes. By “rough chopped,” I pretty much mean slicing most in half, but some of the larger ones I quartered since they were nearly the size of my head. The high tunnel produced some HUGE tomatoes this year.
Into the slow cooker they went, with a half cup of water and some onion powder, salt and pepper, and then they slowly simmered for six hours on low. Once done, I turned it off, removed the lid, and let them cool completely.
I spooned all the tomatoes into a blender, gave them a whirrrrrrr on high, and then my lovely sauce was done!
Save one jarful for the fridge to use this week, I put the rest of the sauce in zip top freezer bags (flattened) and threw them in my freezer to use later. Done.
Isn’t it beautiful? You could add other spices or herbs to your mix as you’re cooking the tomatoes or blending them up, but I wanted to keep this super basic so that it could be used for everything from pizza sauce to jambalaya, and I wouldn’t be married to the idea of Italian-only or other flavors.
- 10 to 20 tomatoes, various sizes
- ½ cup water
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- Slice the tops off each tomato. Roughly chop them, then toss them into the slow cooker. Add the salt, pepper, onion powder and water. Give a stir, then cover the slow cooker and set it to low for 6 to 8 hours.
- Remove the lid and let the tomatoes cool completely. Once cool, spoon them into a blender and puree until it's as smooth as you like.
- Store the sauce flat in 1 or 2 cup portions in zip top freezer bags in the freezer.
Feel free to fill your slow cooker as much as ¾ full, or as little as ¼ full. You may want to err on the lower end of the cooking time for a less full slow cooker, and on the higher side for a more full slow cooker.
The recipe is very flexible and virtually fool-proof!
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