It’s tomato season, and Monique Miller from CERES in Melbourne is gearing up for the second year of the Crowd Saucing project! Here we’re sharing her two top tips to keep your tomatoes a little longer: easy tomato passata and a simple low-tech DIY version for those without a passata press…
Words by Monique Miller
Even if it’s not been the best year for tomatoes in many bioregions across Australia, backyard tomato gluts are still ubiquitous with this time of year. The logical progression of glut is preserve; where we capture & store the energy of those tomatoes so we can enjoy them long after hot days and solanaceae season is but a distant memory.
Easy Tomato Passata Recipe
Passata is simple. It’s a base for so many delicious pasta, rice dishes & baked eggs.
Knife & chopping board
Large saucepan of vacola
Colander of pillow case
Mouli, manual passata machine or tomato press.
Any clean, washed recycled jars or bottles with well-sealing lids. Old passata bottles & pasta sauce jars are great.
Core tomatoes and remove any blemishes.
Optional – squeeze out the seeds and a little juice by hand – this will make a thicker passata.
Chop tomatoes roughly.
Optional – place the tomatoes in a saucepan and slowly bring to a simmer, being careful not to burn them. Allow to simmer until skins are splitting, about 2 mins of simmering.
Allow the tomatoes to cool and drain in a colander of pillow case. Discard the water shed from the tomatoes, or use in soups, stock or bloody marys.
Process the tomatoes though your passata machine. Re-process the skins once or twice to get the most out the tomatoes. Catch the fresh passata in a bucket.
Optional – place a sprig of basil in the bottom of each jar.
Ladle the passata into jars until there about 200mm between the passata & the lid. Put the lids on firmly but not tightly.
Water bathing the passata
Place jars in a large saucepan or vacola. Fill the saucepan with cold water up to an 200mm below the lids of the jars.
Bring this water-bath to a rolling boil slowly (about 45 mins to an hour). Turn down to a steady boil for 1 hour, then turn off and allow to cool completely.
When cool, take out the jars and check if the lids have sealed (they should be slightly concave).
No equipment preserved diced tomatoes
If you don’t have a passata machine, you can still easily preserve your tomatoes in jars.
Core the tomatoes, remove blemishes.
Quarter the tomatoes.
Pack the tomato quarters into a jar layer by layer. After one layer, use the handle of a wooden spoon to slightly mash and squash the tomatoes, forcing out some of the juice, and eliminating air bubbles.
Do this until the jar is full and air bubble free, with 200mm of headspace between the tomatoes and the lid of the jar.
Preserve using the water-bath method above.
For more info about these methods of preserving tomatoes, see CERES Fair Food’s Crowdsaucing page: www.ceresfairfood.org.au/crowdsaucing/resources
To join in for 21 days of Crowdsaucing in March-April with CERES, all you have to do is host a Crowdsaucing day in your neighbourhood, with friends, family, or even people you don’t know yet. CERES Fair Food will be sourcing and delivering locally grown, bulk organic tomatoes for your Crowdsaucing day from March 27th-April 13th. Organise your Crowdsaucing now and get ready to make a winters-worth of sauce with your loved ones. For more details about ordering & passata making see http://www.ceresfairfood.org.au/crowdsaucing/
Photographs by H. Eliot & R. Barson