Making Passata

I do not have any Italian heritage and I am certainly not an expert when it comes to making homemade passata.  But every summer, depending on the success of my tomato crop I attempt to make at least one batch of passata.

Passata

Over the years I have learnt a few things about this process.  It does take time so set aside a day or at least one nice cool morning.  It is also fairly messy and is best done outdoors. A shed or outdoor area is perfect.

Passata

Many hands make light work and obviously this is the reason that generations of people have turned this activity into a whole family or community event.  I have often thought about this but I tend to launch into passata making whenever I can see a free day and of course when my tomatoes are ready.  This can be rather spur of the moment making it tricky to organise it into a social gathering.  One day.

Passata

I really wouldn’t attempt this with less than 20kg of tomatoes.  This might sound like a lot but once all of the chopping, boiling and squishing is done a lot of bulk is lost in the skins, seeds and watery substance.  The final quantity of passata also depends on how fleshy your tomatoes are and how thick or how runny you prefer your passata.   More on what I do with the by-products later.

Passata

I use recycled, cleaned and sterilised 750ml beer bottles.  If you are like me, you wont find it difficult to find someone who is willing to enjoy a few cold long-necks, all in the name of passata making, of course.

Passata

Passata

If you are looking for a little more passata inspiration this post from Not Quite Nigella is a very authentic place to start.  This day at Milkwood also looks vibrant and a lot fun.

What have you been making?

Have you made passata?

Have you been to one of those big passata days that I read about?

Happy Sunday, friends x

Below is the technique that I follow, it was originally from a newspaper clipping collected many years ago.  This simple method suits my equipment and is fairly reliable.

Passata
INGREDIENTS
  • at least 20 kg tomatoes rinsed and quartered
  • basil leaves
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Bring a very large pot/drum of water to the boil.  Meanwhile sterilise enough clean 750ml beer bottles to hold the passata.  Have new lids on hand ready to seal your bottles.  

  2. Carefully place the tomatoes into the boiling water.  When the water returns to the boil, boil the tomatoes for 3 minutes.  This makes them easier to pass through the passata machine. 

  3. Turn off the heat and carefully remove the tomatoes from the water and allow them to drain.  

  4. Pass the tomatoes through a passata machine, either hand cranked or motorised to remove the seeds and skin. I pass the tomatoes through the machine at least twice, to ensure every bit of goodness is collected. 

  5. Place a basil leaf in each bottle.  Fill each bottle with passata carefully using a funnel. 

  6. Using a beer bottle sealing machine, seal the bottles. The sealing process is very important because if the lids come off all of your hard work will be ruined. 

  7. Fill a very large pot/drum with water. Wrap each bottle in a tea towel and secure with kitchen string.  This will prevent the bottles bumping together and breaking during the boiling/preserving process. Lay the bottles carefully on their side in the pot of water.  Bring the water to the boil and boil the bottles for 40 minutes.  Turn the heat off and allow the bottles to cool completely in the water.  

  8. Carefully remove the bottles and remove the tea towels. Wipe the bottles clean if necessary.  Label bottles and store passata somewhere dark and cool. Use passata throughout the cooler months for pasta, stews and pizzas. 

RECIPE NOTES

Passata machines are available from Italian food retailers.

New beer bottles and lids are available from home brew suppliers. 

I make passata outdoors using a huge gas cooker, huge pots and plastics crates for draining, this equipment is basic yet effective.

If the passata pulp seems too runny, drain it through a fine sieve prior to bottling.  Use the watery juice as fresh tomato juice. 

I turn the excess seeds and skins back into the garden, returning it to where it came from.  

Passata freezes successfully if you do not have the space or the equipment for the bottling process. 

 

21 Comments

  1. Reply

    Karen

    January 21, 2018

    Morning Jane this post takes me back to my childhood where I would go to my friends nonna’s tomato days. My memories of those days include the cool basement or cellar as they called it under the house where all the work was being done, the smells, the talking, but most of all the wonderful spread at lunchtime! Crusty bread rolls mortadella, Copa, cheeses. This suburban child of the 70s where devon was the only sliced meats we had at home, thought it was heaven. Enjoy your passata !

    • Reply

      Jane S

      January 22, 2018

      Oh the devon comment made me laugh Karen! What a wonderful memory. Thank you.

  2. Reply

    Marcellina

    January 21, 2018

    Hi Jane, I grew up in an Italian family in North Queensland and we made passata every year. I’ve only made it a couple of times on my own. Now I think back with nostalgia and realise how wonderful and unique it was but as a teenager it was a chore while other kids were having fun. We never put the basil leaf in and used an old fashion electric clothes boiler. Go on you for doing this on your own!

    • Reply

      Jane S

      January 22, 2018

      This sounds wonderful Marcellina!

  3. Reply

    Annie Bart

    January 21, 2018

    Wow Jane, a hive of industry at Scarsdale but it looks like fun and so nice to have something to show for all that growing and processing. Enjoy!

    • Reply

      Jane S

      January 22, 2018

      Thanks Annie x

  4. Reply

    Anne

    January 21, 2018

    This looks a good way to spend a messy, productive day. I’ve never tried making passata on this scale but now wondering if I could give it a try this summer. Just need to get my greenhouse re-erected and buy some seeds.

    • Reply

      Jane S

      January 22, 2018

      You would have fun with it Anne and I am sure you probably have most of the necessary equipment already.

  5. Reply

    Joanne V.

    January 22, 2018

    I left my husband at home this past summer with a big box of ripe Italian tomatoes and a machine for crushing the tomatoes, while I went gallivanting off to the Common Ground Fair in Maine. Have to admit I wasn’t really expecting he would do anything with it all and was resigned to probably throwing the tomatoes out when I got back.
    But no, he found the passata instructions, dug out my water-bath canner and lots of jars and lids and when I got back there were 500ml jars of passata lined up on the kitchen counter processed and waiting to be put away. Now in the depths of winter, it is soooo nice to take out a jar and add it to lots of meals. He’s even looking forward to this year’s harvest and doing it again.

    • Reply

      Jane S

      January 22, 2018

      Well that is an impressive effort from your husband Joanne!

  6. Reply

    Cathy

    January 23, 2018

    This sounds wonderful. We are currently in a tomato drought as my partner has cut out eating all nightshades to see if that’s what has been making him ill. So basically the colour has gone out of our diet around here – no tomatoes and capsicum and various other things. He’s feeling better, but I’m hoping after a while we can start eating them again. A life without spaghetti sauce and tomato sauce on pizza has been a bit upsetting lately. Fingers crossed.

    • Reply

      Jane S

      January 23, 2018

      Good luck Cathy! Thank you.

  7. Reply

    Kate

    January 23, 2018

    ahhhhhh we are so very far from passata and those photos make me hungry and excited.
    every year we’ve grown and made enough sauce for the rest of the year except for last year. last we had a disastrous crop and i convinced myself that it would be okay to buy jars for a whole year. it really was okay, the world kept turning and no one here went hungry. But we certainly didn’t feel as connected to our food or the memories of summer through out the year. This season I’ve planted around 200 plants and while they’re all still green there does look like there’s quite a bit of fruit, so I’m cautiously optimistic. Enjoy your bounty. xx

    • Reply

      Jane S

      January 23, 2018

      I am always cautiously optimistic when it comes to tomatoes Kate! They can be tricky. My crop is almost finished now…a week of over 40 degree temperatures has literally fried them, even under shade cloth. But, they have provided a steady stream of tomatoes since before Christmas so I cant complain x

  8. Reply

    Thfifty Campers

    January 24, 2018

    I have never made passata nor have I ever had it before but yours looks mighty good. Perhaps I’ll have to try it one day🙂

    • Reply

      Jane S

      February 5, 2018

      Thank you!

  9. Reply

    dani

    January 31, 2018

    I have always wanted to make passata ever since watching ‘Looking for Alibrandi’ 1000 times in high school lol! 12 years later and I still haven’t made it… maybe 2018 is the year?

    • Reply

      Jane S

      February 5, 2018

      You will love it Dani! Thank you.

  10. Reply

    Jodie

    February 1, 2018

    This is just lovely Jane. I do love passata. xx

    • Reply

      Jane S

      February 5, 2018

      Thank you Jodie! x

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