Pressure Cookere Large Batch Tomato Sauce

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One batch of the large batch sauce.
One batch of the large batch sauce.

Here’s an easy and delicious way to get rid of 6 pounds of tomatoes in one fell swoop – you’re going to be making LOTS of sauce.

Once I figured out how to reduce the time to evaporate the liquid of the tomatoes in the pressure cooker ketchup recipe, by keeping them mostly whole, I realized I could use this for tomato sauce, too. In fact, I had no choice, as my husband who can’t let a good deal slip by him, arrived at home with another 8k (16lb) box of ripe plum tomatoes.

I’m going to pressure cook my way through 8kilos (18 pounds) of tomatoes today – wish me luck!

A photo posted by Laura D. A. Pazzaglia (@hippressurecook) on

Tripling the amount of tomatoes, from two to six pounds while reducing liquids initially gave me a “scorched” sauce as the viscous tomato juice struggled to boil.  So here, instead of closing the pressure cooker and going, we bring the contents to a boil before pressure cooking.

See Also: Pressure Cook Tomato-based Recipes like a pro!

Keep the skins and seeds, really..

Bring the tomatoes to a boil.
All you need to do is quarter the tomatoes!

Traditionally Italians peel and seed everything – including tomatoes for sauce.  But my cooking style is very rustic, for the sake of  ease.  So, it was a lovely surprise to discover that just like there are benefits to leaving the skins on potatoes (protein) there are also benefits to consuming the skins and seeds in the tomatoes!

According to a study, a large portion of the tomato’s  antioxidants (aka phenolics, flavonoids, lycopene and Vitamin C) happen to be in the tomato’s skin and seeds.  In fact,  more than half of the tomato’s nutrients are found in the pulp.  So, according to science, using the whole tomato in recipes doubles this veggie’s nutritional punch.

Which setting to use to reduce..

If you have a stovetop pressure cooker, choosing the heat setting for reducing the cooking liquid (after pressure cooking) is easy – just turn the flame as low as it will go while ensuring the contents are still bubbling and boiling.

Electric pressure cookers all have different saute, brown, and reduction settings that all cook to different temperatures and times.  I found that on the Instant Pot that the “Saute LESS” setting worked the best – however it times out at 30 minutes, so when you go to check and stir the tomatoes it’s time to start that setting, again.  For the Breville Fast Slow Pro the setting that worked the best was “Saute LO” which will run for 40 minutes before needing to be re-set – the “Reduction” setting  of the Breville only goes for 10 minutes and cannot be increased so I don’t recommend using it unless you want to re-set it six times. I just got a Fagor LUX, and have not had a chance to make this sauce in it, yet, but the “Simmer” setting should work here -it goes for 30 minutes at a time.

For electric pressure cookers without the brown or saute’ function, just choose any pressure program and use it with the lid open (be aware that these could time out at 20 or 30 minutes – so be sure to check that the cooker is still in “heat-up” mode when you go swish everything around).

Use it plain or fancied-up

This basic sauce is pretty darn good on its own, but with a few additions you can get completely different flavors and effects.  Toss in grilled zucchini strips for a nice summer feel.  Or, add tuna and capers for a one pot meal. Or, mix-in a cup of ricotta to turn this into a creamy “pink” sauce.  Leave a comment, below,  to let us know how you used or zazzed up your large-batch tomato sauce!

Preserving the harvest..

Personally, my family goes through A LOT of tomato sauce so stacking these jars in the refrigerator is not a problem for us.  However, if you want to keep the sauce for longer, let it cool and transfer to zip-loc bags and freeze.  If you have a pressure canner, or a pressure cooker/canner, hot pack it and process it for the “pasta sauce (no meat)” pressure canning processing time appropriate for your jar size, canner type and altitude.

4.7 from 15 reviews
Large Batch Tomato Sauce - pressure cooker recipe
 
Author: 
Nutritional Information
(per serving)
  • Serves: about 4-5 pint (500ml) jars
  • Serving size: ¼ cup
  • Calories: 42.9
  • TOTAL Fat: 2.1g
  • TOTAL Carbs: 6.1g
  • Sugar Carbs: 0.1g
  • Sodium: 12mg
  • Fiber Carbs: 1.5g
  • Protein: 1g
  • Cholesterol: 0.0mg
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
This recipe is not tested for hot water bath canning, but it can be pressure canned or frozen in ziploc bags for up to a year..
INGREDIENTS
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2-3 medium yellow onions, sliced into rings
  • 2 large carrots, roughly chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, roughly chopped
  • 6 pounds (3k) plum tomatoes, quartered
  • 6-8 fresh basil leaves
Equipment (in addition to pressure cooker ; ):
  • potato masher
  • immersion blender
  • 6 - 1 pint (500ml) glass jars and lids, freshly dish-washed
  • wide-mouth funnel (optional)
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. To the heated pressure cooker add the olive oil and onion discs. Saute' them stirring occasionally until softened. Meanwhile, slice the tomatoes (stir the onions every 4-5 tomatoes).
  2. Push the onions aside and add carrots and celery, saute' for another 5 minutes- while you finish quartering the tomatoes.
  3. Add the tomatoes and mix well, scrape the bottom with a spatula to ensure that all of the onion is lifted off the base of the pressure cooker into the sauce.
  4. Using a potato masher, mash down the tomatoes to get their juice out and get them under the "max" line of the pressure cooker.
  5. Bring the contents of the pressure cooker to a boil (using saute' mode), uncovered. When the tomato liquid starts to spray and sputter up between the tomatoes...
  6. Close and lock the lid of the pressure cooker.
    Electric pressure cookers: Cook for 5 minutes at high pressure.
    Stovetop pressure cookers: Turn the heat up to high and when the cooker indicates it has reached high pressure, lower to the heat to maintain it and begin counting 5 minutes pressure cooking time.
  7. When time is up, open the pressure cooker with the Normal release - release pressure through the valve.
  8. Mix the contents of the pressure cooker and let simmer uncovered on low flame (or the lowest boiling setting on the multi-cooker) for 1 hour or until the contents have about halved. For example, for the Breville Fast Slow Pro, the lowest boiling setting is the "Reduce Lo" setting, and for Instant Pot the lowest boiling setting is "Saute' Less"
  9. The cooker can be left un-attended for the first 30 minutes - then should be checked more frequently during the last 30 minutes to ensure none of the tomatoes are sticking.
  10. Puree the contents well using an immersion blender.
  11. Set-up the jars on a clean surface and place a single basil leaf in the base of each jar.
  12. Pour the tomato sauce in each jar and close tightly.
  13. Let jars cool completely and then store in the refrigerator for up to three months. Alternately, let the sauce cool completely in the covered pressure cooker and transfer into pint-size ziploc bags (about two cups per bag plus a basil leaf).

Pour finished sauce into jars.

 

IMG_2119
Let cool and refrigerate, or don’t let cook and pressure can.

Pressure Cooker Italian Tomato Sauce RecipeTomato Sauce from FRESH Tomatoes - Electric Pressure Cooker & Instant Pot Recipe

 

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94 Comments

  1. Plan on dicing or just crushing my yellow pear tomatoes that I have, I am wondering if I can use the pressure cooker to do them, if I am going to just freeze the as crushed or diced tomatoes? Or should I just crush and freeze, and do no simmering/cooking? I did use your recipe for making sauce. Turned out well.

    1. Gary, I just cored and cut up the larger (better boy, Mr. Stripey & Cherokee Purple) tomatoes to be portions about the size of a quartered plum tomato (which I also used in the sauce). Worked well. Don’t go overboard to crush or dice, it will cook up in the pressure cooker and then you can follow the directions to cook without the pressure — then puree using a stick blender or regular blender. No need to do all that work — the cooking process and pureeing process will do it for you. Look at her directions again, I think you might have mis-understood. Cut (I cored my larger tomatoes), saute the onions, celery and carrots, then add the cut up tomatoes, wait till liquid spurts from the tomatoes (that means it’s boiling), then put the lid on the pressure cooker, set to meat-stew (which gives you high pressure) and time for five minutes. Release the pressure after the cooking time is over, then cook on low for about an hour, right in the pressure cooker with the lid off (or if you’re doing a couple batches, move the pressure cooked tomatoes to a large stock-pot).

      Then if you’re going to freeze, cool that sauce down, put in freezer zipper bags or in whatever container you’ll be freezing your sauce in, and store in your freezer. For me, I pressure canned my sauce since I use my freezer for stuff that cannot be canned (ie, fresh meat I froze, etc).

    2. Gary, you can absolutely follow the instructions here using only tomatoes and you can hot water-bath can them, too (see our discussion in the previous comments with links on how to do this safely). However, you might want to start by slicing them in the size you eventually want them because all the crushing in the world is not going to change the size of the skins of the quartered tomatoes (except pureeing, of course). My understanding is that you “chunks” and not a puree.

      The freezer already does some of the work to “break down” tomatoes (via growing ice crystals that pierce the tomato flesh) so if you’ve been happy with the results you’ve gotten from doing this in the past – there is no need to change this now. ; )

      Ciao,

      L

  2. I have never made my own tomato sauce and am dying to.. and have these:

    Ball Jar Wide Mouth Pint and Half Jars with lids and bands…

    So how do I safely store the sauce exactly? Do I pour them into the jars and let cool before storing them in the fridge/freezer or can they just be put away when hot??

    Thank you for this recipe!!!

    1. Grace, let the jars cool and refrigerate. Never freeze a liquid in a glass container as the liquid will expand while freezing and shatter the glass.

      Ciao,

      L

      1. I freeze in glass and the jars don’t break. The trick is to leave space for expansion and leave the lids off until frozen, usually overnight. You can reuse store bought sauce jars this way as well.

  3. Can you make a half batch with 3 pounds of tomatoes following the same instructions?

    1. Yes, as long as you can squeeze enough juice out of them in the “mashing” step for the cooker to reach pressure. If you can’t just add water, and then evaporate it away in the reduction step. ; )

      Have Fun!

      L

  4. Is a normal release the natural pressure release (NPR) or quick release (QR). Sorry, newbie here and I really want to do this right.

    1. Laura uses “Normal” where others use “quick”: Push the button, turn the knob or whatever you need to do to release pressure quickly and safely.
      She uses “Natural”. for go have a cuppa and a lie down while you wait.
      She also uses a couple of other terms too:
      “Slow normal” release pressure slowly if your machine can do it. Or in bursts if it can’t
      “10 min natural”. Have a cuppa but release pressure after that instead of having a lie down.

      She advises AGAINST unnatural methods like pouring cold water over the PC as they pose an unacceptable safety risk.

  5. I find that a nice simmer in the Instant Pot can be maintained for long periods by using the Slow Cooker setting with the top off, or off and on as you need. The strength of the simmer can be controlled with the Adjust control.

    1. That works for smaller batches, what I did was about 6 batches and transferred each batch to my large restaurant-sized stockpot, added herbs and spices, Then I puree’d the contents of the stockpot and poured into pint size jars, and pressure canned. This has made a great quick spaghetti and pizza sauce!

  6. Oh, word. One more reason to love the Instant Pot. My house is redolent with the aromas of tomatoes, onions, and olive oil. My batch yielded 11 cups of rich, delicious sauce. I added 2 tsps. kosher salt and 1 tsp sugar, but that’s all the doctoring it needed.

    My tomatoes haven’t fared well this year, so I had to supplement with a few pounds from the farmers market. Thanks for this awesome recipe!

    1. Oh, Kim your sauce looks beautiful. Thank you for sharing a pic with us. I’m so glad to read that you’re happy with the results. Another weekend, another batch? ; )

      Ciao,

      L

  7. Any reason why no garlic? Thanks for this though! Prepping 25 lbs of Roma tomatoes!!

    1. No, there is no reason – you can apply this technique to your favorite sauce recipe. HOWEVER, garlic does lose flavor under pressure so I recommend keeping the cloves whole when browning and then removing them for the pressure cooking step and tossing them back in for the reduction step.

      Have fun, send pictures!

      Ciao,

      L

  8. Hi, So first let me say – YUM! This is my first year with my pressure canner/cooker and I think this recipe will be used a lot in the future. I’m trying to make the most of my new kitchen gadget, and I want to can this sauce. Having mostly experience with water bath canning, I’m used to the lemon juice addition. Am I right that when pressure canning the lemon juice is not needed to be safely canned? Sincerely an overly cautious newbie!

  9. Made this to.day, went very well. I think I will omit the carrots next time. There was a bit of sweetness in this sauce. I think it is from the carrots. Thank you for the recipe.

  10. I made this sauce without the celery. I added I pound of pork riblets after pureeing the sauce and cooked them until they fell apart. It was as though my mama was smiling over my shoulder! The pork added a vast amount of flavor. I removed the bones and froze the sauce as directed in zip type freezer bags, with a small amount of pork in each portion. And now three months later I am re-living that day as I have throughly enjoyed my pasta with that wonderful sauce for dinner. Laura, you are a goddess! Thank you for showing me the pressure cooking path!

    1. K7, so glad to hear you made this recipe your own – and what a nice addition, too!

      Ciao,

      L

  11. I made this tonight – I’m new to my FAGOR LUX pressure / slow cooker and excited to work with it. I followed the recipe and things went swimmingly until I got to the simmer step. I used the “simmer” button on the cooker and after 1.5 hours, the liquid had not reduced enough. I decided to use the “Saute” button and that did the trick. The simmer just never got it hot enough with the top off. I assume that if I had opted to slow cook with top on, overnight, the water would not have evaporated. It looks good but I haven’t tasted it yet.

    1. So, how was it?!?

      Ciao,

      L

      1. Good! I froze much of it in separate plastic baggies so we’ll eat it over time.

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