This is a spiced, thin tomato sauce that you can use whenever you need a thin tomato cooking sauce with a Mexican flair to it. You could, for instance, use it as the cooking liquid for rice.
How hot it is depends completely on your choice of chile peppers.
This recipe is from the USDA. It must be pressure canned. Ball also offers a similar recipe, Mexican Tomato Sauce, which can be water-bathed or steam-canned.
Jar size choices: Either half-litre (1 US pint) OR 1 litre (1 US quart)
Processing method: Pressure canning only
Yield: 7 x 1 litre (US quart) jars
Headspace: 3 cm (1 inch)
Processing pressure: 10 lbs (69 kPa) weighted gauge, 11 lbs (76 kpa) dial gauge (adjust pressure for your altitude when over 300 metres / 1000 feet)
Processing time: Half-litres (pints) 20 minutes; litres (quarts) 25 minutes
Mexican Cooking Sauce
- 1 ¼ kg chile peppers (about 2 ½ to 3 lbs, as purchased. About 700 g / 25 oz after stemming, skinning and seeding.)
- 8 kg tomatoes (18 lbs. As purchased.)
- 450 g onion (chopped. 3 cups / 1 lb. Measured after prep.)
- 1 tablespoon salt (or non-bitter, non-clouding salt sub)
- 1 tablespoon oregano dried
- 125 ml vinegar (½ cup / 4 oz)
- Wash the peppers.
- Place in hot oven (200 C / 400 F) until the skins on them wrinkle and blister -- about 8 minutes.
- When peppers are cool enough to touch safety, peel, stem and seed them, chop, and add to large pot.
- Wash and peel the tomatoes; chop coarsely, add to pot.
- Wash, peel and chop the onion. Add to pot.
- Add all remaining ingredients.
- Bring to a boil, then lower to simmer, cover and let simmer for 10 minutes.
- Ladle hot sauce into heated jars, either half-litre (pint) OR litre (quart).
- Leave 3 cm (1 inch) headspace.
- Debubble; adjust headspace.
- Wipe jar rims.
- Put lids on.
- Processing pressure: 10 lbs (69 kPa) weighted gauge, 11 lbs (76 kpa) dial gauge (adjust pressure for your altitude when over 300 metres / 1000 feet.)
- Processing time: half-litre (US pint) jars for 20 minutes OR 1 litre (US quart) jars for 25 minutes.
How to pressure can.
When pressure canning, you must adjust the pressure for your altitude.
Yes, you must peel the tomatoes to reduce the bacterial load going into the jars. Here’s how: peeling tomatoes.
- For chile peppers, you probably don’t want this blazing hot. This is not meant to be a hot sauce, but rather an ingredient type of sauce to be used in dishes. Consider moderate / mild peppers such as Anaheim, poblano, jalapeno, cubanelle, etc.
- Here’s how we actually did the peppers. Line a rimmed baking sheet with tin foil (optional, for easier cleanup.) Wash the peppers, cut in half, seed, and stem. Place cut side down on baking sheet. Bake at 175 C / 350 F for about 20 minutes until skins look all wrinkled. Remove tray from oven, let cool until safe to touch. Skins should peel right off.
- To make with canned tomatoes instead of fresh, you would need 8 litres (8 quarts / 32 cups) of canned tomatoes, liquid included. (Disclosure: the National Center doesn’t actually like you using canned when a recipe calls for fresh.)
- Despite the addition of some vinegar, this is still regarded as a low-acid product and thus requires pressure canning. “There are some tomato products in the USDA canning procedures that only have a pressure process listed (for example…. Mexican tomato sauce, etc.). If a pressure process is the only listed option, then it is the required processing method and we do not have a boiling water process option available. These products made according to the stated recipes and procedures are low-acid food mixtures.”  NCHFP. Burning Issue: Acidifying Tomatoes When Canning. 4 Sept 2013. Accessed June 2016.
Customize the recipe
Here are safe ways in which you can tweak this recipe.
- Vary the peppers — use a mix to create a layer of complex flavours. Just stick to the same quantity;
- Instead of making the ½ cup (125 ml / 4 oz) quantity of vinegar all up out of white vinegar, use another vinegar of 5% or higher strength, or, part white vinegar and part lemon or lime juice. Just keep the ½ cup amount the same;
- Instead of using standard Italian or Greek oregano, try Mexican oregano which has quite a different flavour;
- You could try adding ½ to 1 tablespoon of ground cumin.
- Don’t add any fresh herbs for canning. Add instead at time of use.
Mexican Tomato Sauce. In: United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Complete guide to home canning. Agriculture information bulletin No. 539. 2015. Page 3-15.
Mexican Tomato Sauce. In: Andress, Elizabeth L. and Judy A. Harrison. So Easy to Preserve. University of Georgia Cooperative Extension. Bulletin 989. Sixth Edition. 2014. Page 62.
Modifications made: None. (Renamed to “Mexican Cooking Sauce” to distinguish it from Ball’s “Mexican Tomato Sauce” already on this site.)
Per 1 cup / 250 ml / 8 oz:
- 144 calories, 264 mg sodium
- Weight Watchers PointsPlus®: 4 points
- Weight Watchers SmartPoints®: 0 points (sic)
Sodium goes down to 21 mg per cup without the added salt.
* Nutrition info provided by MyFitnessPal
* PointsPlus™ and SmartPoints™ calculated by healthycanning.com. Not endorsed by Weight Watchers® International, Inc, which is the owner of the PointsPlus® and SmartPoints® registered trademarks.
|↑1||NCHFP. Burning Issue: Acidifying Tomatoes When Canning. 4 Sept 2013. Accessed June 2016.|
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