Sunday, February 24, 2013

Perfect Passata

The next time its 26 degrees in February chuck a sickie and make passata. Lucky for Earth Carers, our miraculous 26 degree day fell on a Sunday.

We have been keen to try out our new, second hand, communal, 'Grow in Freo', electric passata machine. This wonderful contraption was purchased communally between a few community gardens in the Freo area. It is available for all the Grow in Freo garden members (and probably others if you ask Beck nicely!). It was a fantastic purchase!

I'm a super keen preserver but have always blanched and peeled my tomatoes before preserving. This is generally a whole of family, all day affair to preserve around 20 kgs. We were interested to see if we could make the process any quicker with some horsepower behind us. And it sure did! We aimed to do 30 kgs in a day and ended up doing 50!

So here's the quick vid of the machine in action:

And here are the step by step instructions. First, if you are a member of Hilton Harvest or any other 'Grow in Freo' community garden, ask Beck to borrow the passata machine her number is 0407 018 151 . Here it is all set up, ready to go.

On the left of the picture you see we have set up a milk crate with a bed sheet bulldog clipped in to it to catch the passata, then put the crate on some bricks. This is so the watery stuff can drip out and you are left with thicker passata without needing to reduce it on the heat before preserving. Ads said that you can actually capture the watery stuff and make good stock with it - we will try that next year.

If the tomatoes are bigguns you need to cut them in half first. We got roma's which fit down the shoot easily and are cheap during summer, this lot was $1 per kg, but we have purchased them at 50c per kg. You need to wash them first.

So, the easy bit is making the passata. Just switch it on and poke them down the shoot.

The passata pours out in to the milk crate with the sheet and the seeds and skin come out the side.

Its important to have the seeds and skin drop in to a clean container because if you put this through the machine again you will get more sauce. You can do it three or four times.

 It took us an hour or so to do the lot, including cups of tea and popping down to the shops to get another 20kgs of toms because it was all going so well! After this we just let the passata sit in the towels and drain for an hour or so more. It was amazing to see how clear the liquid was that dripped out. It's really tasty and like I said before, next time we will catch it and use it for stock.

In the meantime we washed our preserving jars and put the rings on. I've always used a Vacola set - others have told me they just reuse passata jars and lids but I've not tried that myself.

Then we pour in the passata into the jars with a little lemon juice (or citric acid). This is to keep the acidity level up and reduce risk of botulisms or something...I don't know, I just read about it in the instructions!

Then pop on the clips and lids and preserve. It takes around two hours in the stove top pot. You have to get it to 97 degrees, then hold it at that temp for an hour. This is our stove top 'big bertha'. She holds around 11 slim jars.

I also have an electric one, and for the day borrowed a second one. These systems take only an hour to preserve and hold around 8 slim jars. 

So, to do 50 kgs we did one load in Big Bertha and three loads in the electric sets. It was all over by 1.00pm with an 8.00am start. It honestly would take all day to just blanch 50 kgs of toms. I will never blanch again. The sauce and remaining clear liquid still separated in the jar after preserving, but it's still thick enough after a shake before opening. Generally though, you need to let it cook and reduce for your pasta sauce or whatever you are cooking. We ended up with 22 large jars and 15 small jars of passata, this works out to about 25 litres of sauce and should be plenty to keep us going for a year. No preservatives, minimal food miles, no waste at all! Awesome!


  1. Nice one Amy. Great preserving skills, and I bet the end product is amazing!


    1. Thanks Gav. The end result is amazing. I never realised until now what a difference removing the seeds makes. I've always cooked using whole tomatoes, but never again. Passata is so much sweeter and yummier, especially in pasta and on pizza. Cheers, Adam

  2. That is AWESOME! Well done!

  3. Great job. We grow Amish paste tomatoes for our passata. This year so far we have done approx 45 lts. We use beer bottles and also fowlers jars.
    With the seeds, leave them in a container to go mouldy and then dry them out for planting next year ( if using home grown toms ).
    Glad to see others showing a passion in preserving too.

    1. Wow, 45 litres, well done! Thanks for the tip on the seeds, we've never let them go mouldy before but will give it a go.

  4. I am worried about my passata. Followed all good advice, have some separation, but this clear liquid has a darkish tinge to it. I decanted one bottle and it still tastes fine, perhaps a little metallic. Any advice as to whether my bottles are still fine or not would be appreciated. We grew the tomatoes ourselves and had 3 tomato weekends. It would break our hearts to pour them all down the sink! Jackie

  5. Thanks for the info. I tried making it before watching this and it was a fail. Very thin. Will now try your method.