How to Make and Can Your Own Home-made Hot Sauce (Tomato Hot Sauce, Like Tabasco Sauce)

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Making and canning your own tomato hot sauce, similar to Tabasco sauce, Ring of Fire,  Louisiana hot sauce, etc.  is quite easy.  And you can make it as hot as you like, even add some other spice. It will better it will taste in the winter, with the flavor of home grown tomatoes! Just scroll down this page to see how to do it, in easy steps and completely illustrated.


Yield: About 7 to 8 half-pint jars


Step 1 - Selecting the tomatoes

It's fun to go pick your own and you can obviously get better quality tomatoes!  

Wash, remove stems, and trim off bruised or discolored portions of the tomatoes. You can also use canned, diced tomatoes.

Bulk? A bushel of tomatoes weighs 53 pounds.

At right is a picture of tomatoes from my garden - they are so much better than anything from the grocery store. And if you don't have enough, a pick-your-own farm is the pace to go!  At right are 4 common varieties that will work:

Top left: Beefsteak Top right: Lemon Boy, yellow
Bottom left: Roma, paste-type Bottom right: Better Boy

The picture at right shows the best variety of tomato to use: Roma; also called paste tomatoes.  They have fewer sides, thicker, meatier walls, and less water. And that means thicker sauce in less cooking time!

Also, you don't want mushy, bruised or rotten tomatoes!

Caution: Do not can tomatoes from dead or frost-killed vines. Green tomatoes are more acidic than ripened fruit and can be canned safely, also.


Step 2 - Wash the jars and lids

Cleaning canning jars in the dishwasherNow's a good time to get the jars ready, so you won't be rushed later. The dishwasher is fine for the jars; especially if it has a "sanitize" cycle, the water bath processing will sanitize them as well as the contents! If you don't have a dishwasher with a sanitize cycle, you can wash the containers in hot, soapy water and rinse, then sanitize the jars by boiling them 10 minutes, and keep the jars in hot water until they are used.

NOTE: If unsanitized jars are used, the product should be processed for 5 more minutes. However, since this additional processing can result in a poor set (runny jam), it's better to sanitize the jars.

Put the lids into a pan of hot, but not quite boiling water (that's what the manufacturer's recommend) for 5 minutes, and use the magnetic "lid lifter wand" to pull them out.  Leave the jars in the dishwasher on "heated dry" until you are ready to use them. Keeping them hot will prevent the jars from breaking when you fill them with the hot jam.

lids, in a pot of steaming hot, but not boiling waterLids: put the lids into a pan of hot water for at least several minutes; to soften up the gummed surface and clean the lids.


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Step 3 - Chop the tomatoes

Chop up the tomatoes (I go to 1/2 inch cubes). You could use a chopper or food processor. You don't need to remove the skins because the food mill (later) will remove the skins and seeds)

Step 4 - Chop the hot peppers

Your want to produce 11/2 cups of seeded, finely chopped Serrano peppers. You can use other similar hot peppers. You may want to use a chopper, food processor or blender.  Caution: Wear plastic or rubber gloves when handling, cutting and seeding hot peppers or wash hands thoroughly with soap and water before touching your face or eyes.

Step 5 - Prepare the pickling space bag

Place mixed pickling spices in a spice bag and tie the ends firmly.

Step 6 - Bring all ingredients to a boil

Mix all ingredients together in a Dutch oven or large saucepot. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Simmer another 20 minutes, until the tomatoes are soft.

Step 7 - Run the mix through a food mill

Press mixture through a food mill. This purees the mix and separates skins, seeds, steps and other hard bits. You can also use other mill/sieve combinations like the Villaware.

ASIDE: Here's the Foley food mill (below) .They cost about $25.

You can also use other mill/sieve combinations like the Villaware (below)

Step 8 - Heat the strained liquid

Return the strained liquid to the stockpot, heat to boiling and then boil for another 15 minutes.

Step 9 - Fill the jars

Fill hot sauce into clean, hot half-pint jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace if needed. Wipe rims of jars with a dampened clean paper towel; apply two-piece metal canning lids.


Step 10 - Process in a water bath canner

Process in a boiling water canner according to the recommendations in the table below. (You can also use a pressure canner, if you prefer - but follow the manual in the pressure canner for the time)

Recommended process time for Easy Hot Sauce in a boiling water canner.
Hot pack Process Time at Altitudes of
Jar Size 0 - 1,000 ft 1,001 - 6,000 ft Above 6,000 ft
Half-pints (8 oz) or smaller 10 min 15 min 20 min

Step 11 - Cool and store

Let cool, undisturbed, 12-24 hours and check for seals. Hot sauce improves with age (up to about 6 months to a year).  Wait at least one week prior to using it.  The longer the sauce ages, the more complex the flavor will become.  Properly packed hot sauce will last about 1 year, if kept in a cool, dark area.

Developed at The University of Georgia, Athens, for the National Center for Home Food Preservation. Released by Elizabeth L. Andress, Ph.D., Department of Foods and Nutrition, College of Family and Consumer Sciences. March 2003; revised February 2009.


Home Canning Kits

This is the same type of  standard canner that my grandmother used to make everything from applesauce to jams and jellies to tomato and spaghetti sauce. This complete kit includes everything you need and lasts for years: the canner, jar rack, jar grabber tongs, lid lifting wand, a plastic funnel, labels, bubble freer, and the bible of canning, the Ball Blue Book. It's much cheaper than buying the items separately. You'll never need anything else except jars & lids! To see more canners, of different styles, makes and prices, click here!For more information and current pricing:

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Lids, Rings, Jars, mixes, pectin, etc.

Need lids, rings and replacement jars?  Or pectin to make jam, spaghetti sauce or salsa mix or pickle mixes?  Get them all here, and usually at lower prices than your local store!