How to Make Tomato Paste and Tomato Puree
As many of you know I am an avid gardener, growing loads of my own vegetables at home, many to eat, but also a large amount that I exhibit annually at the local country show. Naturally towards the end of the growing season like many gardeners, I am usually left with a glut of certain types of vegetables that I need to either eat or discard on to the compost heap (something that feels just plain wrong somehow). This year I decided to have a go at preserving some of these vegetables in a form that would allow me to use them throughout the Winter, and possibly even in the years to come!
My first project was what to do with my surplus cherry tomatoes, and having decided that the easiest way to preserve them was to make them into concentrated tomato purée (or paste), I proceeded to research how to do this, before slightly adapting the method to ensure the maximum likelihood of my purée surviving the Winter without going mouldy on me. I am going to share this experience and method of preservation with you in the hope it may give you an idea of what to do with your own surplus tomatoes. There are many recipes online for "Tomato Purée or Tomato Paste", but not many for actual 'Concentrated Tomato Purée or Tomato Paste'. The difference is important, as if you make the concentrated version you will need less jars to bottle it into, and will need to add less to your sauces, be them pasta sauces, meat sauces or anything else you normally add your tomato purée and tomato paste to. I hope therefore this recipe will serve you well for many years to come.
- A wooden spoon
- Preserving jars
- A baking tray
- A large saucepan for cooking the ingredients in
- A further large deep saucepan
- A wire rack or trivet that will fit in the base of above saucepan
- A small saucepan for sterilising tools
- Metal tongs
- A couple of metal spoons or a metal ladle depending on the size of the jars you are using
- Plenty of boiling water
- 4 kg Very ripe tomatoes
- 6 Red bell peppers
- 3 Medium sized onions
- 2 Garlic cloves
- 12 tablespoons white malt vinegar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 teaspoons black pepper
- Scald the tomatoes in boiling water for about 20 seconds. As soon as the skins split transfer the tomatoes to a large bowl full of cold water. The skins should now easily peel off, (no need to remove the seeds unless you really don't like them). If using cherry tomatoes I would not bother to skin them and just blend them thoroughly instead.
- Peel and chop up the onion.
- Wash, de-seed and chop the red peppers.
- Peel and chop the garlic cloves.
- Place all of the ingredients (including the salt and pepper) in a large saucepan with the vinegar and about half a cupful of the olive oil.
- Bring to a simmer for about five minutes until the juices from the tomatoes start to be released.
- Remove the pan from the heat and using a food processor blend the contents of the pan until smooth, (if necessary in batches that you transfer to a separate bowl or saucepan).
- Return the blended mixture to the main saucepan and reheat (uncovered) to boiling before turning down to a gentle simmer for a couple of hours (or until reduced to a consistency that holds its shape on a spoon).
- Wash your jars and lids in warm soapy water, rinse and place on a baking tray in a cool oven (140 degrees Celsius), for about 20 minutes, or until dry.
- Meanwhile bring some water to the boil in the smaller saucepan and place your utensils in the water for a few minutes.
- Using a sterilised spoon transfer your tomato purée / paste mixture into the jars to within half an inch of the top, (being very careful not to touch the inside of either the jars or lids with your hands or any unsterilised utensil).
- Use a sterilised skewer or plastic implement such as a spatula to remove any visible air bubbles within the paste.
- Pour a layer of the extra virgin olive oil on to the top of the mixture making sure the surface of the purée is completely submerged.
- Screw the lids on to the jars.
- Place the jars on to the wire rack in the base of the large saucepan and submerge in boiling water. Keep the water boiling on a stove for about 30 minutes.
- Partially drain the saucepan and then using oven gloves remove the jars from the water and leave to cool on a heatproof surface.
- Once cool, label and date the jars and store upright in a cool dark place such as a garage, cellar or cupboard.
- Allow at least a month before use to allow the flavour to mature. Each time you use some of the tomato purée make sure you use extremely clean utensils, and then top up the layer of olive oil on the surface to keep the tomato paste from going mouldy.
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