This is something of a labour of love; the trouble with making your own tomato sauces is that you get spoilt and don’t want to buy the shop stuff. It is labour intensive and, unless you have really good cheap tomatoes, probably not worth it from a financial point of view. However, nothing tastes as good as home made passata and you can adapt the recipe to suit your family’s palate.
The recipe we work off is from Pam Corbin’s wonderful book Preserves, one of the River Cottage Handbooks. We have made many other lovely preserves and chutneys from this book. Recommended !
We buy a whole box of tomatoes at a time, which has 6 lbs of fruit in it.
- 6lbs (2.7 kgs) of tomatoes
- 6 garlic cloves peeled and sliced
- 300 g onions or shallots, we used a mixture of white and red
- A generous handful of tarragon leaves and chopped stalks
- Greek oregano from the garden as well (pictured in the slideshow- you can use any herbs that you think go well with tomatoes of course)
- 1 and a half tsp of coarse sea salt
- 1 tsp of black pepper
- 1 tsp of sugar
- 75 ml olive oil
- Halve the tomatoes and place on a baking tray cut side up and spread and sprinkle everything else on the top.
- Roast for about an hour at 180 C.
- Remove from oven, drain off any liquid and save for stock for soups or other dishes.
- Invest in a food mill as it takes forever to rub through a sieve and makes your wrists ache!
- Purée the tomatoes through the mill.
- You will of course need hot sterile jars and lids ready.We only use screw top jars. Other methods are described in detail in the book.
- We wash our jars in hot soapy water, rinse in hot water and place on a tray in the oven at about 120 C for 30 minutes or longer. We boil the lids in a saucepan and keep them at a gentle simmer till we need them.
- Pour the tomato puree into the hot jars, filling them almost to the brim. Put the lids on the jars immediately. People like us who don’t have canners make a water bath in a large saucepan with a teatowel folded in the bottom filled with cold water nearly up to the top of the jars.
- We then bring the pan up to simmering point (88 – 90 C) over a period of twenty five minutes, and then hold it at that temperature for ten minutes.
- Leave the jars to cool somewhere out of the way. Check the lids are tight.
- Label prettily and store in a cool place.
Pam Corbin suggests a shelf life of 12 months. Ours doesn’t last that long. It gets used in so many dishes that we have to make it on a regular basis.
Edit: For readers concerned about botulism, something I understand is a particular concern in the Western United States, please read up and take advice as I am not an expert in this area. I understand from the little I have read that you can add citric acid or lemon juice to the tomatoes to increase their acidity levels, and that one should avoid using overripe fruit, but that is a general principle with all jam and chutney making. If a jar bulges, the contents look as if they are separating, any funny colour or smell becoming apparent, use your common sense and throw away. Our very first batch of this separated because we used the liquid which we now drain off, we haven’t had any problems since, but we are not experts so please don’t read this as expert advice. Thanks!
Once you have made this, you can bravely venture into making your own ketchup too, the recipe for which is in the book as well, and I have to say is utterly delicious!
And a second PS, is that a PPS ? I am completely obsessed with the concept of Time and set out to write a huge post on the subject, but it will have to wait for now… Time, Thought, Trinkets, Treats, Timpanni, Trees, Tickets, Toast and of course Tea and Teacakes, hot cinammon butter….there were too many. Never mind!