Easy Peasy Passata

For the past several weeks I have been madly experimenting with different passata recipes to determine which one would become my go to recipe to fill the forty passata jars I have collected over the year. It is only over the last couple of years that I have been cooking with passata, but now I use it instead of tins of tomatoes - so much easier to pour a tomato sauce straight into whatever I am cooking than faff about chopping up the tomatoes.

Passata recipes. There are many. Some of them involve roasting the tomatoes with onion and garlic before making them into sauce, and some require a number of ingredients which transforms the passata into a pasta sauce ready to pour onto pasta. All of the variations were delicious. But I what I wanted was passata in its simplest form - tomatoes and salt. The ultimate versatile kitchen ingredient for when you don't have fresh tomatoes. I use it in curries, in chilli, in soups and stews as well as Italian pasta dishes. I wanted simple, generic, and also easy. So in the end I went with what appears to be the traditional Italian basic recipe, then changed the method to suit my circumstances - that is, I am someone who doesn't own a mouli or Kitchen Aid or any other appliance that separates the skin and seeds from the body of the sauce. But what is all that about anyway? Surely the skin and the seeds are good for you? And who wants that kind of mess all over the kitchen? Not me.

So what follows is the easiest method I could invent for making the simplest passata recipe I could find. Ridiculously easy. Really, compared to all the measuring and chopping that goes in to relish or salsa making, this is such a doddle. If you try it, let me know how you go:)

Easy Peasy Passata

1. Wash your tomatoes.

2. Chop them very roughly (in half will do) and throw them in your largest pot (mine is a 9l/2.3 gallon pot). Add two tablespoons of salt (more or less depending on pot size).

3. Bring to the boil.

4. Boil for an hour. Or less if you are using a smaller pot. When the heavenly aroma of well-cooked tomato wafts through your kitchen, then it will be done. Timing really isn't critical though. It will still be watery, it will always be a thin sauce, unless you want to cook it down for hours, but then you don't get much sauce..

5. Whiz up with the stick blender.

6. Put 1/4 tsp citric acid and a couple of basil leaves (optional) into the bottom of sterilised jars. Citric acid is a white crystalline powder that is also handy for cleaning and making cheese. In this case it is providing extra acidity to your sauce which will keep it safe from nasty bacteria. It doesn't affect the taste. 1/4 teaspoon is enough to acidify up to a litre (2 pints) of sauce.

7. Pour in the passata.

8. Water bath can for an hour. I use my friend Jane's vacola outfit. It is basically a large kettle which plugs in at the wall to heat up water, with the jars inside, for an hour. You can also do this in a large pan. Put a kitchen towel on the bottom to keep the jars off the base. Fill with cold water, making sure it covers the lids of the jars. Heat very slowly (a large pot will take about 30 mins to boil), then simmer for 30 mins, turn off heat and leave the jars in the water until cool.

9. Hmm, no, I think we were done at 8.

Do you make passata? Let me know your secret recipe:)


Unknown said…
Sometimes simple is the best and this passata can be used in so many things. I like to over roast my tomatoes first to remove just a little of the water. Well Done Jo.

Thanks for popping by.
Heather F said…
Looks delicious. I've never tried making this from scratch, but you make it look so easy that I am encouraged to try.
Anonymous said…
I always wondered what a vacola thingie looked like and how it worked. Looks simple. I'd be too worried they I didn't sterilise things properly and killed my family. Or I'd blow up the kitchen and have tomato across my ceiling.
Anna said…
Wow, Jo that does look good. I will have to give it a try. I roast my tomatoes with a few garlic slices and basil leaves. And like you I prefer it to faffing around with canned tomatoes. Anna
Anonymous said…
When is your next sustainability meeting? I plan on attending. Could you mail me with the where's and when's please? I am UBER jealous of your tomatoes! The rats ate all of mine...along with the walnuts :(. I am getting a small degree of joy from the feral cat eating the overstuffed rats that can hardly move for being cram packed full of Sanctuaries produce but it's not the same...
heather said…
Good job on all the putting up! I do a similar plain sauce, though I also do an herby version and a spicy pepper (capsicum, I think you say) version. I do let mine boil for a few more hours because no one likes the watery yellow juice, but it does add flavor (and nutrition, I assume) if it's boiled down instead of strained off. But it's not like hours dedicated to slaving over the stove; you can do something else while it's reducing as long as you stop by to give it a stir now and then.

That vacola thingie is pretty neat. I just have the open water bath canner you described after- I'll bet the electric one is more efficient, and maybe heats up the kitchen less. I am going to try to push my tomatoes late this year to do the canning in October, when the worst heat should be past.

Your bottles look so slim and elegant. Canning jars here are squatter and straight sided, much less tapered at the top, and have two piece lids- a flat metal part with a rubber seal and an outer ring to hold the lid on while it's sealing. I'm trying reusable Tattler lids for the first time this year, since I hate to throw away the used metal lids each year, but they deform when you pull them off with an opener. The Tattlers are plastic with a separate rubber ring. I am not excited about the plastic, but it's supposedly BPA free and all that jazz. Hhmmph.

--Chicken Heather
Jo said…
Hi Lynda, yes I tried the roasted version as well, but being lazy, decided to opt for the one pot version instead!

Heather, do give it a go. It is ridiculously easy!

Lucinda, I fully expected the same things when I started preserving. Thankfully, no dead family members (so far).

Anna, lovely to see you here again:) If I was less lazy and hated scrubbing roasting trays less I would go with this method as well - it certainly does make a delicious sauce.

Fran, bad rats! I'm glad the cats ate them! Actually none of the tomatoes were mine - I bought them all from local growers. Will email you with details of Better Living Group:)

Mmm, Heather, your flavoured sauces must be delicious. Maybe I will branch out in a couple of years. It's great hearing about other people's experiences and experiments. Do you add any extra acidic ingredients when you add other things like capsicums?

My jars are not proper canning jars - just the jars from the supermarket that I bought the passata in last year. They have those lids that pop down when there is a vacuum seal. Probably every couple of years I will buy new lids for them, and keep on using the jars forever!

yum... my freezer is stuffed full of portions of tomato sauce that i'll probably use as passata, and roasted tomatoes ready to whiz up for pasta sauces other base of casseroles or other tomatoey dishes.
I too never bother about skins and seeds - by the time I have whizzed the tomato up, it's not noticeable to me. who needs the bother?
Jo said…
e, exactly. And as I always use passata as an ingredient in another dish, like a curry or stew, any tiny bits of tomato skin entirely disappear. If I was specifically making a pure pasta sauce I might peel the tomatoes. Maybe.

I am liking the idea of your frozen roasted tomatoes. What a great idea for adding a hit of tomatoey flavour.

PS I love the word tomatoey. That is a keeper:)
Bek said…
Lovely! I like your flexible passata, which is not how I tend to think of passata. For me it is purely a sauce for pasta, but then I pressure can plain tomatoes to use for curries and other dishes. You say tomayto say tomahto etc
Yay for the Fowlers vacola!
Jo said…
Mmm, Bek, pressure canning... that is taking preserving to a whole other level.. where did you get your pressure canner? I haven't seen them for sale in Australia, but then maybe I'm not looking in the right place..
heather said…
Yay for reuse on the jars! I allow myself to be ruled by the tyranny of the Ball Blue Book or county extension offices (government-funded tested sources)for canning recipes (or at least acid ratios) and instructions, so that if anyone does die of botulism or whatever, they can't blame me. Thus the two piece lids- I didn't know you could buy the other kind. The Blue Book also sternly warns against re-using supermarket jars, supposedly because they might break during processing (I suspect they are in business with Mason or Kerr). Since I use the "approved" lids, my jar choices have to match. Technological suites!

I also use a pressure canner. Mine is an All-American brand, which I bought online. It has a metal-to-metal seal, instead of a rubber ring which needs monitoring and periodic replacement. One less thing for me to keep an eye on.
--Chicken Heather
Anonymous said…
While I'd love to do bulk tomato sauce, no space. However, man cave extension should lead to crap removal from under the house, and thus woman-cave and space for things like making jam and tomato sauce and passata and all the good things. (Super cheap fruit shop up the street with boxes and boxes of saucing tomatoes for $5.)

I do however make a wicked tomato sauce for pizza in very small freezable quantities. I just finely chop some onions, little bit of garlic, fry them off, add the tomatoes (I sometimes blanch them to get the skins off. Time consuming. Sometimes I can't be bothered and I just chop.) leave them for ages until they're nicely squooshy, then whizz them with the stick mixer. Or in the blender. Freeze it in one cup bags, and job done.
Anonymous said…
Hi Jo
I'm new to your blog and have been enjoying your posts.
Very interesting this Passata, I had never heard of it before, but as it turns out I've been making it all along but just called it tomatoes in a jar.
I just used my last jar for a pot of soup and tomato season is a few months off in my side of the planet, however I have a bunch of frozen ones that will do in a pinch.
This canning season I will make lots and lots of Passata
Yeah I was with ya til the whole bath thing, and then I was like 'ain't no body got time for that' - or one of those! I'm sure I could swing it, but for now, I think I'll buy the passata, and tinned tomatoes. Only cause I ALSO don't have a ready supply of cheap or juicy tomatoes.

I have a recipe I love that calls for roasted little tomatoes (I use cherry, grape, whatever!) and it's awesome. BF hates it - his loss, my gain, more ghocchi for me :)
Jo said…
Heather, so sensible to make sure there is someone else to blame! For the same reason I didn't mess with the passata recipe - just the method. And the added citric acid was another precaution.

I feel confident to mess with jam recipes now I know what I'm doing, but not with preserving..

I'm intrigued about the pressure canner, have read about people using them, but have never set eyes on one. It isn't a 'thing' historically in home preserving in Australia, but clearly Bek is in the vanguard..

Miss Maudy, important to demand equal rights re cave space:) Your tomato sauce sounds madly yummy, and something I could do with all this passata in the cupboard..

PS Sauce tomatoes for $5 a box, seriously? That is amazing. You need LOTS of space for storing preserved tomatoes!!

Mariann, welcome, tomatoes in a jar, ha, now you have a fancy name for that, although I am sure passsata just means 'squashed tomatoes in a jar' in Italian!

It is very depressing to run out of a preserving staple with months to go.. glad you have the freezer to tide you over. Enjoy planting your new little baby tomato plants:)

Sarah, I know, it's taken me years to get around to doing this! Of course, you could also make passata and freeze it instead of canning it.

Your roast tomato recipe sounds divine, I think I must have a similar one, although really, roast cherry tomatoes, you can't go wrong, can you?

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