Thursday, September 3, 2009

Preserving Tomato Passata

Yesterday E and I went to pick more tomatoes (and cukes, and squash, and herbs).  I know that I said I would be taking a year off of my usual maniacal amounts of canning tomatoes!!  How can I be expected to resist!!  And they are gorgeous and ripe and almost falling off the plants. Truly, they were calling my name.  And I knew just what to do with them seeing as how I was down to only 2 jars of passata left from the previous year.  I love making this sauce, it is super easy.  I also find that most everyone loves it, even children who say they don't like tomato sauce like this one because it is naturally sweet and smooth with no "bits" in it.
We wash the romas and then cut them in quarters.  (E de-stemmed and put them in the wash sink and I chopped.)  Then we cook them up in a big pot with just a smidge of water on the bottom (so I don't burn them) until they are soft and the juices are flowing freely.  Then comes the fun part.
E loves to help with this and this year he did them all on his own.  All I had to do was stand on the other side of the counter and fill the jars with the sauce he was cranking out.   Then I added a bit of lemon juice, a bit of salt and some fresh basil leaves.
The sauce comes out one side and the seeds and skins out another.  Here is my helper surrounded by more tomatoes (we saved those ones because E wants to make catsup).
I love having jars of this on hand for when we need an easy dinner.
And now I am finding myself quite pleased that this house has a cold room.  It seems we will be filling it up after all.  Last night I had someone say to me, "I thought you were taking a year off and weren't going to do all those things this year." but I realize that preserving our own food - putting things by for times when things are not so plentiful - is something I simply must do and it is very important to me for many reasons.
Firstly, I just love good food, and there is no better way to get good, flavourful food than to prepare it yourself.  I just can't buy tomatoes as tasty as the ones that I preserve at the peak of their ripeness.  I also love that all through the year I have lots of local food on hand, that we don't need to buy things which have been trucked from other countries if we don't want to.  And...I just love the tradition of preserving each year.  It just is what I do, and it is what my children have come to expect, and I hope that by seeing me do it each year (and now that they're older by helping with the process themselves) they, too, will want to carry on this tradition.  A tradition I see as a very valuable, practical thing.
When we want to make a delicious red sauce with this we put some olive oil (a couple BIG glugs)  in a pan and heat some garlic, salt, pepper, oregano and tomato paste for a few minutes.  Then we add the jar of sauce and two bay leaves and bring it to bubbling then turn it down to simmer.  You can simmer it for hours if you like to get a nice thick, very rich sauce.  Remove bay leaves, check seasoning and serve over hot al dente pasta with a sprinkle of parmesan.  Yum!


sheila said...

Look at all those wonderful jars! I have the same reaction to a garden: preserve it for later.

Right now I'm canning a whack of stuff. I love looking at all those colourful jars in the cold room.

ipsa said...

This looks beautiful.

I'm almost inspired. ;)

Heather said...

I love the look of all the jars in the cold room too, Shelia. In this place the shelves look a bit suspect to me and I am unwilling to risk my jars full of goodness on them. I think we will have to do a bit of support on them before I put all my preserves up there. Can you even imagine if a shelf full of preserves crashed down?!? :-(

Rebecca, if we ever convince you to come up and visit I could make you some long-simmered passata sauce for dinner...of course we could offer up some wine and Colin movies to go with if that would make it more tempting. ;-)