When I took on my first half of an allotment plot 6 years ago, the first thing I said was that I want to be able to make my own Passata with the tomatoes. We hadn’t even cleared the waist high weed and grass on our new plot and I was already thinking of what I will do with the harvests. All the hard work of hand digging paid of in the end, not only did we have a good harvest of vegetables, surprising also won first prize for best half plot that year. By the following year plot wasn’t big enough and moved to our current plot which came with its own challenges, number one being: water logging, but after a lot of hard digging and nurturing the soil with manure overwinter, the following year we were harvesting the fruits of our labour and now enjoy own grown produce year after year, yes weather dependent.
|First half plot taken in 2011|
Once you make your own, it becomes addictive. Any form of preserving makes gardening come full circle: from sowing own seed, naurturing the plants, making my own plant food to nurture those plants and harvest the crops of your hard work. A truly satisfying feeling, be it a small harvest or preserve. You know exactly what has gone into making your own.
|Plum Tomatoes (v. San Marzano)|
Over the years I have grown a lot of different varieties of tomatoes because others on the allotment grow those, then maybe I should too. We weren’t enjoying the taste of some of them and so narrowed it down to what we use all the time, mainly Plum tomatoes and a ’round’ tomatoes, namely Money makers or Ailsa Craig. So for the past 2 years I have been growing 9 Plum Tomato variety type and 3 Money Makers and also, because we love the taste of beafsteak variety especially in sandwiches, grow 1 or 2 Fiorento Costuluto plants.
As for the Plum Tomatoes seeds, I am particular which seed I use, they are always San Marzano 2. They have not disappointed me yet. Money Maker tomato seeds are always from Mr Fothergills, as they come free with my magazine.
Since I started the seeds in January, harvest started in end of July, so my Passata Machine has had to come out early too.
|Using Passata Machine makes light work sieving|
Making this sauce in small batches allows me to control the cooking process. Here I have 2kg of Plum tomatoes. The tomatoes do not get blanched in order to remove the skins prior to pulping, using this Passata Machine makes that job easier, so all I have to do is cut them in halves and pulp. I then passed the skin and seeds three to four times over just to make sure all pulp is squeezed out. This machine makes light work of sieving. I am amazed how this process helps separate the pulp leaving just 120g of tomato skin and seeds at the end.
|After ‘sieving’ left with 120g of Tomato Skin and Seeds|
Next wash the jars and bottles in hot soapy water and place them in a preheated oven at 100˙C for half an hour, and wash and dry out thoroughly the lids too. Heat the pulp to evaporate the excess water, allowing the temperature to rise to just under 85˙C and keeping this temperature for 10 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of White Vinegar and stir in, close with a lid and allow to simmer for 5 minutes.
At this stage herbs and spices may be added to the sauce, but I prefer to leave it plain, because I use this Passata not only to add to my Pasta dishes but also stews and curries and add herbs and spices to the recipe when required.
|Bottle up the hot pulp into hot bottles|
Remove the jars carefully out of the oven, using a sterile funnel, pour into the hot jars the heated pulp. and carefully screw on the lids tight. Turn the bottles or jars upside down for 3 minutes to heat up the tightly shut lids, turn them back the right side up and allow to cool completely prior to storing. At the end, approximately 4 bottles (and half) of 400ml from a harvest of 2 Kilogram of Plum tomatoes is made.