Grandma’s Tomato Sauce – Just like we remember

Sauce day! It’s a family tradition which we have been attempting to master since before our kids were even born. Each year we have a slow day, where we cook sauce for hours and often tell stories about Pete’s upbringing. With five cousins all heading to Grandma’s every school holidays, there are some great stories.

We have learnt some lessons over the years.

Firstly, cook outside if it’s safe, or you may smell sauce for days. (Both you and any units you share a common stairwell with… whoops..)

Also chat to your local fruit shop, or the fruit stall at the markets. You need the tomatoes to be as ripe as possible. Often a fruit shop will have ‘over-ripe’ tomatoes removed from sale. These discards are treasure! They make the best sauce, and often you will get them for a bargain.

The recipe will make approximately 5 litre of sauce.  We tend to make a double batch in two separate saucepans.

Stage one – The Sauce Mix

I tend to make this mixture independently from the sauce. It’s actually a lovely addition in moderation to beef stews and meat pies. If you are cooking it the day of your sauce making, start with Stage Two and then do this once you get that cooking.


  • 185ml of Organic Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 tsp Black Pepper
  • Pinch Cayenne Pepper
  • 2 tsp Citric Acid
  • 2 tsp Cloves
  • 1 tsp Ground Allspice
  • 4 tsp Ground Ginger
  • 1 tsp Ground Nutmeg
  • 185ml Water

Simply combine all the ingredients into a saucepan. Place over medium heat and stir regularly until the mixture simmers. Once simmering, simply remove from heat and cool. Place into a sterilised bottle if you are not cooking sauce immediately.

Stage Two – Hours and hours of Fun!

Safety First – Set up a safe station where you can cook for hours. We choose to do this outside, however the most important thing is to ensure it’s safe, stable, and can’t be knocked over.  It will get very hot.


  • 9 kg of ripe tomatoes (Washed and Sliced) – Chat to your local fruit store to get their ripest.
  • 5 kg of Onions (Finely Chopped)
  • 3 Apples (Peeled and Chopped)
  • 15 Cloves of Organic Garlic (Approx. 100 grams) (Crushed and Chopped)
  • 1 kg Sugar
  • ½ cup Salt

After cutting all the ingredients as noted, place the tomatoes, onion, garlic, and apples into a large saucepan and simmer for 5 hours. Stir every 20 minutes.

Cool mixture and then blend.

Add Sugar, Salt, and the prepared Sauce Mix.

Simmer for approx. 1.5 hours stirring more regularly. You will need to make a call about the thickness of your sauce. Placing some sauce on the back of a cold spoon can give you an indication of how runny it will be when cooled.

Very carefully spoon the sauce into hot Sterilised Bottles using a funnel, and then seal immediately. The recipe will make approximately 5 litre of sauce.

Store your sauce in a cooler, dark room.  We then store these for approximately 6 months.

Sterilising is really important when preserving so take your time with this process. Remember, after storage, if your sauce does look or smell strange on opening, it’s best to discard.

What is your favourite family recipe?