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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- at least 20 kg tomatoes rinsed and quartered
- basil leaves
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.
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.
Turn off the heat and carefully remove the tomatoes from the water and allow them to drain.
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.
Place a basil leaf in each bottle. Fill each bottle with passata carefully using a funnel.
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.
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.
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.
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.