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:)