The Versatile Tomato

If I had to choose only one thing (and I say thing because technically a tomato is a fruit and not a vegetable) to plant in my garden, it would be tomatoes.  Judging from how many tomatoes and how few of everything else I planted, you’d think I did have to make that choice.  Arkansas seemed to have had a problem deciding if the tomato is a fruit or vegetable and has named The South Arkansas Vine Ripe Pink Tomato as its state fruit and the state vegetable.

Do you ever think of how much you can do with a tomato?  I never thought much about it til lately . . especially after realizing we have set out in excess of 88 tomato plants.  In addition to eating the raw tomato, we use a lot of tomatoes in soups, marinara sauce, pizza sauce or mixed in dishes such as okra & tomatoes or spaghetti squash with tomatoes.

Over the weekend I made homemade pizza sauce and Vince commented that it’s so much better than the sauce we buy in a jar.  Here’s how I make it.

If you’re buying storebought canned tomatoes, it’s really probably not going to taste a lot different than buying storebought pizza sauce but if you can your own tomatoes, this is worth a try.  Start with two jars of canned tomatoes.

If you don’t have a stick blender or immersion blender, you should consider it.  They are so useful!  Open the jar, stick the blender down in the wide mouth jar:

Turn it on and you instantly have tomato puree.  Then just hold the blender down in some hot, soapy dishwater; turn it on and it’s clean!  Just be sure it doesn’t grab hold of the dish rag because then you have to unwind the dish rag from the blades of the blender.  I do that often!  🙁

Pour the tomato puree into a pot.  Add whatever spices you desire.  We put fennel seeds, oregano, basil, a couple of sliced onions and some chopped garlic.

Taste it all before adding salt.  Most of us add salt during the canning process and no extra salt is needed.  Amount of simmering time will vary depending on the amount of liquid in the tomatoes.  Some tomatoes have way more liquid in them than others.  While Romas are my favorite canned tomato, I can anything and everything I can get and there’s a lot of variation in the final product of canned tomatoes, depending on which types of tomatoes were used.

Simmer, uncovered on a low to medium heat until the sauce is as thick as you’d like it to be for pizza sauce.

You can see how much my sauce simmered down.  Right before adding to the pizza, I add a tablespoon (or so) of brown sugar and a couple of tablespoons of olive oil.

That’s it . . homemade (and yummy!) pizza sauce.


  1. 1


    Yum! Nothing like home-canned tomatoes. They taste like you just picked them. Last time I planted a garden (pre-spine surgery), it was all tomato plants. I didn’t regret it. I had lots to eat, can, and share with the neighbors (good way to meet neighbors). I absolutely love tomatoes.

  2. 2

    Deb says

    So, do you ever recan the pizza sauce so that you have more for later? I love tomatoes, and when we make a new garden, I will have some again. For now, we will put out a few plants in pots. Which, by the way, we had SNOW yesterday and 28 degrees, so they wont go out in the pots till June. So, while yours are turning RED, ours will have been just planted!

  3. 3


    We had snow this morning too. I could just choke somebody!
    There are no canned tomatoes in my cupboard because of blight and a cool, wet summer last year, I sure missed having them.

  4. 6


    OMG Judy… 88 plants? I think in a couple of months we can kiss seeing any quilts out of you goodbye! 88 Plants! OMG!

  5. 8


    I love tomatoes! Unfortunately it is too hot in Arizona to have a garden. So, if you see some other little tracks that aren’t deer — they would have been mine if I lived closer!! There’s nothing better than a fresh tomato — well, two are better than one!

    • 8.1

      Kathy Chiocca says

      We just had pizza tonight with one of the last jars of my tomatoes. We do a more Neopolitan style pizza with the tomatoes just hand squeezed onto the crust that’s been smeared with fresh crushed garlic and then the spices and mozzarella and grated Romano cheeses go on top of the tomatoes.
      I make my own pizza dough in my bread maker and I have a pizza stone that I put in the oven. I bake the pizza in pizza pans and then slide them onto the hot stone for about a minute to crisp up the crust. MMMMMM.
      The left overs are just as good if you just heat the pizza stone and heat the slices on it the next day.
      My little 8 plant tomato garden is the best I can do here in Oregon, and its in my front yard cause its all shade in the back. Your tomato garden makes me green wiuth envy.

  6. 9

    ruth anne says

    I like doing this way and not having a blender to clean later!!! Great tip and recipe. Thanks so much Judy!

  7. 10

    Amy says

    Care to list the varieties of tomato plants? Any heirlooms? Any “funky” varieties? I love tomatoes & really go for the unusual ones over the standards.

  8. 11


    WOW!!! Homemade pizza sauce! Thanks for the recipe! Now, just have to wait until later this summer for fresh ‘maters!

  9. 12

    Carol says

    I just came across some canned tomatoes from ’05 and ’06 that were forgotten about. Still good and they make the best sauce. I can’t picture having 88 tomato plants…you’ll be canning on a commercial level. Wow.