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Ask Dr. Gourmet

Do you have a recipe for spaghetti sauce that is suitable for canning?

I was looking for a recipe for spaghetti sauce. I would like to use it for canning. Do you have a good and healthy way to make home made spaghetti sauce?

Dr. Gourmet Says...

A plate of traditional spaghetti with tomato sauce

Our spaghetti sauce recipes are not suitable for traditional canning.

For years it has been felt that canning tomato sauce is safe, but the issue is first and foremost which particular recipe that you use. Traditional canning of acidic foods, such as fruits and tomatoes (not in sauce), in a water bath is felt to be safe because of their higher acidity. The U.S.D.A., however, cautions that because many of the tomatoes on the market today are sweeter (lower acid) they may not be safe.

The issue with spaghetti sauce is that it includes foods that are lower acid, such as onions, garlic or peppers. Using the traditional canning process, where the canned goods are simply boiled, would present increased potential for bacteria being able to grow. This presents a similar problem as canning meats, and the recommendation is to use the pressure canning technique, which would eradicate any spores that might be present. (The temperature is over 240°F - they are killed.) Using this technique does require an inexpensive pressure canner (similar to a pressure cooker), but you can then can most any recipe you choose.

Here are two great resources about canning:

National Center for Home Food Preservation: University of Georgia

Canning Foods at Home: Clemson University Cooperative Extension

And the Ball Mason Jar web site.

Have a great fall canning.

Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP, CCMS
Dr. Gourmet