Posts Tagged ‘Preserving’

Waxing Hard Cheese

cheese-waxA little snippet here piqued my interest. I’m having a good think about food storage at the moment, to ensure year-round produce, and this is one of the classic methods of preservation. Not seen so much nowadays as everything is plastic-wrapped, but waxing a hard cheese allows you to keep it – unrefrigerated -for some time, possibly even years. The wax coating, when done properly, hermetically seals the cheese, preventing mould and retaining its moisture.

For more details on how to wax cheese (and why to do it), here are some great resources:

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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 🙂 :

  • 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 – gives 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 – I 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.