March is my favourite time of year! Why? It’s where the abundance of tomatoes gets turned into passata! Turning tomatoes into sauce is what I look forward to every year. My brother-in-law grows the Roma tomatoes, garlic and basil (although the basil seeded before I could get my hands on some!) and I then turn those beautiful Romas into passata!
Making passata, or as some call it, tomato puree or sauce, is a great way to keep the tomatoes from your garden, in your kitchen all year round. I love adding my passata to spaghetti bolgnese, pasta napoli or pasta Capresse. It also comes in handy for adding sauce to your pizza base instead of using tomato paste. Having bottles of passata on hand is always great for adding into minestrone, enchiladas or even rice dishes. Passata is the next best thing to tinned tomatoes and beans to have in your pantry all year round.
My method of passata making is very nontraditional! I’m not even sure if any Italian family would call my sauce passata! I understand that the art of passata making is passed down from generation to generation, but this is the method that works for me. I’m not an army of people, I’m a one person show. But I must say, this passata tastes amazing and beats any store bought passata – ever!
Traditional passata is a whole day affair with the whole family. It’s made using fresh tomatoes, which are placed into a boiling water bath, skins, seeds and cores are removed. Placed into bottles with salt and basil and boiled for hours. I cook my tomatoes with garlic and a little oil, then strain and bottle. I always keep the pulp (tomato seeds and skin) for later use. Check out my post about not wasting anything when making passata #waronwaste #wastenothing
I have been making passata for the past four to five years now. I know the flavours are amazing and is definitely comparable to anything out there on the supermarket shelves. I think in the time I’ve made passata, possibly one or two from each batch was spoilt due to the lid not being on properly.
Tip – if I don’t use a whole bottle in one go, I either leave it in the fridge for next time or place the leftover passata in a ziplock bag in the freezer to use. The sauce keeps really well in the pantry but it can also be frozen, in one or two cup lots – keeps in the freezer for well over 12 months.
When making passata, a lot of tomatoes get used. This year, the tomato haul was a whopping 29kgs (64 pounds) from my brother-in-laws veggie patch! None of us could believe that there was that many tomatoes! I found spending time in the garden very therapeutic and relaxing. I think we spent a good 45 minutes or so picking tomatoes. I’m getting into practice for when we have our own garden one day.
This recipe is for 10kgs (22 pounds) of tomatoes, which makes the recipe easier to divide or multiply depending on the quantity of tomatoes you have.
Tip – whenever using fruit to make sauces, jams or adding into dishes, always chop them in half or quarters before placing in the pan. This just ensures you don’t have any hidden surprises when cooking!
PREP: 1-1.5 hours COOK: 1 hour & 45 minutes + 45 minutes MAKES: 8.4 litres (12 x 700ml bottles)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 heads garlic (75 grams)
10 kilograms Roma tomatoes, chopped in halves or quarters
1/4 cup sea salt
In the largest stock pot you have, see photo, heat olive oil on a low heat. Add the garlic and gently fry for 3-5 minutes, stirring often so the garlic doesn’t brown or stick to the pan.
Once fragrant, add the tomatoes and salt. Stir to combine and bring to a gentle boil. This can take anywhere from 30-45 minutes. Stir every 10 or so minutes to stop sticking.
Once the tomatoes are at a steady boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for one hour. Don’t forget to stir every so often.
Remove from heat and allow to cool before using a stick blender to blitz.
Using a fine holed colander (like this one that I use) or muslin cloth over your colander, strain the sauce into large containers. Do in batches if needed. Clean the saucepan, once emptied, as you’ll need to fill it with water for sterilising the bottled passta.
Tip – after straining the passata, don’t throw away the seeds and skin. I’ll share a recipe on how and what to use the seeds and skin for – stayed posted. Place them in a plastic zip lock bag in the fridge. #nowaste
At this stage, or earlier, sterilise your bottles or jars. Check out this page on how to sterilise bottles. Don’t forget to sterilise your funnel too – pouring boiled water from the kettle works perfectly! For this batch of passata, you’ll need about 12 x 700ml bottles.
Line up the bottles, place the funnel into the top of the first bottle. With a scoop, fill the bottle with sauce to the top. Place lid on and repeat the process for the remaining bottles / sauce.
With the stock pot, fill with as many bottles, and water, that will fit firmly. Tip – place a tea towel in the bottom of the pot to stop the bottles moving around and knocking against each other. (I’ve had this happen to me in one of my first batches. It’s not a pretty sight to see a pot full of passata and broken glass!)
Bring to the boil, then continue at a slow boil for 45 minutes to sterilise the passata. Allow the bottles to cool in the pot overnight before placing them in your pantry or dark cupboard. Don’t forget to date you sauce.
Use within 6-8 months.
Tip – As with any food that has been in storage for any period of time, if there’s any signs of spoilage, discard the bottle / jar. This should not be consumed.