Archive for November, 2008

Making Passata and Pasta Sauces

I have a dream that we can be free from shop-bought tomato purees, passata and pasta sauces. We typically eat one jar of shop-bought sauce each fortnight, plus extra tomato puree into sauces, cassoulets etc. So my target for sauce-self-sufficiency is probably about 26 500ml jars, and then maybe another dozen 100ml jars – so about 15 litres of sauce would be a good target. Apparently 5kg of tomatoes will get you about 4 litres of sauce, so we need to be looking at around 20kg of tomatoes – no small feat, but certainly not enough to trigger a full-on “Doing the Tomatoes” or “National Wog Day“.

To do this properly, you really need a Passata Machine or a Mouli – these will give you the puree without the skins and seeds, and you’ll need some clean, sterilized¬†jars to contain the delicious results.

Making Passata

OK, here’s the process – it seems really easy ūüôā :

  • First, wash the tomatoes,
  • then cut them in half,¬†discarding any bad bits,
  • then simmer them for 20 mins or so – just to start breaking them up
  • pass them through your passata machine or mouli – process the skins 3-4 times to get all the juice out,
  • bottle the passata in sterilized jars
  • heat the jars to complete the seal
  • store for up to year.

Variations

 Once you have the basic passata, there are a range of different things you can do to it before bottling:

Turn it into a complete pasta sauce. Gently fry onions and garlic, add passata and reduce over a low heat until you get to a more traditional pasta sauce consistency. Add some herbs (basil)¬†to the jars before bottling for extra flavour – this is also a good way to “preserve” your garlic and herbs!

Make concentrated tomato paste / puree. Great for flavouring a range of dishes, this can either be made from the plain passata, or from the garlic, onion and herb-flavoured sauce. Essentially you just keep reducing the sauce until you have a thick paste – there is a great description of how to do it here.

For stronger flavours: Oven-roast the tomatoes for about an hour at a low heat instead of boiling them Рgives a richer, thicker sauce.

More Inspiration

This whole post was inspired by an off-hand remark by Contadino about his hand-cranked passata machine – go and have a look at the wonderful description and photos on his website¬†– can you believe how many tomatoes he’s grown!

Another wonderful inspiration is the description of “Doing the Tomatoes” on Cream Puffs in Venice¬†– showing the cultural side.

For really detailed descriptions on making passata have a look at Mas du Diable who also has a great page on other ways to preserve tomatoes РI love a good chutney so I need to spend more time looking at that! 

And for more discussion on hand-powered passata machines have a look over at my Gentle Descent blog.