Q: How do you fix a sliced tomato?
A: Use tomato paste.
So I managed to spill hot tomato puree all down the front of myself, my oven door and all over my kitchen floor today. But you know what? It was worth it. I’ve now got 6 months worth of homemade tomato paste put up *satisfied sigh*
Long after the last fruit has fallen from the bush, I’ll be using this paste for pasta sauces, pizza bases and hearty casseroles. Using tomato seconds from the market (my own plants are only just starting to fruit) my six month supply has cost me around $6 which makes it cheaper than woolies. And a hell of a lot tastier than the packaged stuff!
I know because I taste tested everytime I stirred the paste *guilty*
For this recipe all you will need is:
4.5kg juicy red tomatoes
2tbsp olive oil
2tsp sea salt
1/2tsp citric acid
You will also need:
Stockpot or extra large saucepan
Sieve or food mill
Wooden or plastic utensils (not metal)
Jars with lids
1. Preheat oven to 175°C. Wash jars in hot, soapy water, then rinse clean.
2. Roughly chop tomatoes into quarters (eighths for super large toms). Place in saucepan with olive oil and put on the heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring.
3. When tomato skins begin to fall off, remove pot from heat. Push tomatoes through a food mill to extract puree. If you don’t have a mill, you can push the tomato through a sieve to remove the skin and seeds. It will take longer…and a lot more effort… but it’s worth it (says the girl who doesn’t own a mill 😉 ). Compost the skins and seeds.
5. The tomato puree will look really watery. Don’t stress; it’s supposed to. Stir in the salt and citric acid, then divide the puree between oven trays and carefully (this is where I spilt mine) place the trays into the oven.
6. Every 30 minutes carefully stir the puree, pulling it away from the edges. When it starts to reduce combine it onto one tray. Keep stirring half hourly. In around 3-4 hours (ish) the puree will reduce by half and turn brick red. No water should separate from the puree when you stir it. And hello tomato paste! Make sure your jars are ready. Pop them into the oven to heat (hot paste in a cold jar spells disaster: cracked glass! You have been fairly warned).
7. Spoon the paste into the hot jars, leaving 3/4inch of headspace. You measure this from the very top of the jar, not from the neck. Use a plastic spoon to squash in the paste, moving it around to make sure no air bubbles are left. Wipe the rims clean and screw on the lids (secure but not too tight).
8. Choose your preservation method.
Waterbath: (35 minutes). Keeps for 12 months.
Freezer: Keeps for 9 months.
Fridge: Keeps for 1 month.
If you are keeping your paste in the fridge, fill the space in the top of the jar with a deep layer of olive oil. Each time you use the paste, top up the oil layer to preserve the paste below. This is also a great trick to stop shop bought paste going bad so quickly. Make sure you remember to add oil and refrigerate once you start using any paste you have previously frozen or water bathed.
Finally, don’t forget to affix labels. It’s very important to keep track of dates to ensure food safety. Plus they look cute.
Make sure you put aside a whole day when you decide to make paste. You won’t spend all of it in the kitchen yourself, but this is a slow process. It is worth it! Homemade tomato paste is a million times tastier than shop bought. Plus it is cheaper and waste free *bonus*.