• Homemade tomato sauce (Alan Benson)Source: Alan Benson

This is a recipe handed down from my grandpa, Steve. 






Skill level

Average: 3.3 (101 votes)

Celebrating Australia’s love of rhyming slang, my family only ever calls this sauce “dead horse”. I inherited my grandparents’ handwritten cookbook and in it was this recipe, dated 1933 and written in neat copperplate. The original recipe was written in pounds and ounces and was just a list of ingredients and quantities without a method. I usually make this is in a 6-litre batch but you can easily scale the recipe down.


  • 1 litre (4 cups/35 fl oz) white vinegar
  • 1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) white sugar
  • 200 g (7 oz) pure sea salt
  • 6 purple garlic cloves, chopped
  • 30 g (1 oz) ground allspice
  • 15 g (½ oz) ground cloves
  • 10 g black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 5 kg (11 lb 4 oz) tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) brown onions, chopped
  • 1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) green cooking apples, peeled, cored and chopped

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Makes 6 litres (210 fl oz)

Cooling time: 1 hour

Place the vinegar, sugar, salt, garlic, allspice, clove, peppercorns and cayenne pepper into a large heavy-based saucepan and bring to the boil.

Add the tomato, onion and apple, reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, stirring frequently, for 2 hours, or until the mixture has thickened and the tomatoes have broken down.

Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly before transferring, in batches, to a food processor or blender and processing until smooth. (You push it through a sieve or a mouli to get a similar result.)

Return the sauce to a clean pan and bring back to the boil. Remove from the heat and pour the sauce into sterilised glass jars, then seal immediately with tight-fitting lids.

This sauce will keep for 12 months, which means you’ll be ready to make it again in time for the next tomato season.



• To sterilise bottles, make sure they are squeaky clean. A dishwasher will sterilise them. If handwashing, place in cool water and bring to the boil. When the water boils, the bottles are sterilised.

• You can serve the sauce with just about anything – it’s great with snags and eggs, but we also like it on top of grilled cheese on toast.


Also try Ross's pulled pork and Sadie's tomato sauce from this episode of Gourmet Farmer. 


Photography by Alan Benson. Styling by Lucy Tweed. Food preparation by Tammi Kwok. Creative concept by Belinda So.