Friday, October 28, 2011

Home Made Tomato Paste

I am lucky enough to be part of a wonderful family who were always crafty and into making things. Lucky for me I married a chef and that craftiness has now extended into the kitchen as we often have lots of left over veges or excess from our little sustainable vege garden.

This time though, it was gifts from two other family members that resulted in 4kg of tomatoes! I like tomatoes but not enough to eat 4kg in time. We always save all our glass jars for such an occasion and made homemade tomato paste. We have made other variations including tomato ketchup, a nice tomato pasta sauce but yesterday was just about a base tomato paste recipe.

We usually add garlic and onion when we are cooking with tomato paste so we added it to the tomato paste recipe but you could leave it out if you wanted. To 4kg of tomatoes I added 4 finely diced pickling brown onions( the small ones or you could add 2 larger ones if you like) and 1/3 bulb of garlic which I crushed.

Put the onion and garlic in a pot and sweat on a low heat. This takes the bite out of the onion and garlic and leaves a nice flavour. Be careful not to brown or burn the onion or garlic.

Add the 4kg of tomatoes which I cut into quarters. They were Roma tomatoes so I didn't chop them too small.

Add 2 cups of water and bring to the boil.

Let it simmer, making sure you stir it regularly so it doesn't burn on the bottom, until the water and tomatoes have cooked down into a nice consistency. This may take a few hours.

You could add herbs or salt and pepper but I prefer to add these later when cooking.

Prepare your jars while you are waiting for it to boil down.
I usually scrub mine to make sure all the food is gone, put them through the dishwasher and then put them in a pot of boiling water.

Once you are happy with the consistency you need to blend your tomato paste. We have a stick blender and blended it while it was hot. Mainly because I don't like having to wait and it is easier to jar later, but you can wait for it to cool down and blend it in a bench blender.

If you have a hot mixture, you can put the hot mix straight into the jars (obviously tipping out any excess water), put the lid on and then turn them upside down for 10minutes. When ten minutes is up, turn them right way up again and they vacuum seal themselves!

If you elected for cold mixture, when you have added it to the jars you need to put the jars back into the pot with the water and heat them up until the vacuum seal button in the top doesn't pop back up again when you push on it.

If you are like me and burn yourself accidentally when you are doing anything involving hot things, take extra care once you have blended the hot mix, use a funnel to get it into the jars and handle the jars with tongs. It doesn't hurt to have a bowl of cold water, ice pack or other responsible adult around either!

Our mix filled 4 jam size jars. Make sure you label the jars with the date you made it so you know how old it is in the cupboard. You can make pretty labels and put some check fabric and string around the top and they may great Christmas Presents.

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