As you all know (I have told you plenty of times so you must), I do rather well growing tomatoes, that is, if quantity is the measure of success.
This is my third year. The first year, I planted a punnet of Roma and a punnet of cherry tomatoes which was way too much in anyone’s language. I bottled tomatoes galore. We are still making our way through them but are over the bump.
Last year, I allowed four self-sown tomato plants to live. I chose carefully. I wanted two Romas and two cherry plants. I ended up with three cherry tomato plants and one mini Roma plant. I made about 50 bottles of tomato puree with the tomatoes. Oh, dear!
This year, I planted five seeds which were supposed to be Roma tomatoes but ended up being San Marzanos which are fine for cooking and drying but not nice eating. I pulled up about a hundred self-seeded cherry tomato plants. Enough was enough! Then, after being in Perth for a week, I came back to five wild, manic bushes (I am guessing too much nitrogen from all that poo) and intermingled amongst them, cherry tomato plants galore! How many I don’t know. I just seem unable to control the number of tomatoes I get.
Anyway, now I have tomatoes galore, again. I have vouched not to bottle any so what to do? Make tomato extract or paste? It takes lots of tomatoes and cooks down, down, down to not much.
To make tomato paste or extract you need thick-walled tomatoes, the most common being Roma tomatoes or San Marzanos.
The first photo is about 2.5 kgs of tomatoes. I did the following with them:
- Cut your tomatoes in half, length wise, and scoop out the seeds, juice and core.
- Weigh the resultant tomatoes. I ended up with about two kilograms.
- Place the tomatoes, cut side down on absorbent paper for about 45 minutes to drain.
- Put the drained tomatoes in a large pot and add 30 grams of salt for every two kilos of tomatoes you have.
- Mash the tomatoes a bit to create some juice so they won’t stick, then bring them to the boil.
- Simmer for one hour.
- Put the cooked tomatoes in a mouli (or strainer) and extract the skins and any wayward seeds.
- Put the resultant pulp in a cloth bag to drain out the juice, much like you would drain yoghurt. Hang the bag from a tap or suspend a wooden spoon over a tall bowl and tie the bag to the wooden spoon. Alternatively, line a strainer with a cloth and pour the pulp in.
- Leave the pulp to drain until it ceases to drip.
- You now have two options:
a. freeze the pulp in little containers; or
b. dry the pulp in a dehydrator (line the tray with baking paper) or oven on its lowest setting or in the sun.
- When the pulp is totally dry, put it in a blender or food processor and blitz it.
From the 2.5 kg of tomatoes, I ended up with about a ½ cup of dried extract (above photo).
This time, I started with about 3.5 kgs and decided to dry the tomatoes then blitz them.
- Cut your tomatoes in half, length wise, and scoop out the seeds, juice and core.
- Sprinkle the cut halves with salt and a little sugar.
- Put tomatoes in a dehydrator, cut side up, or in your oven (with the fan on) on its lowest setting or on a tray in the sun.
- Dry the tomatoes until they are completely dry. Turn the trays regularly and take out each tomato as it dries. Mine took a couple of days before they were all dry.
- Blitz the dried tomatoes in a blender or food processor.
From 3.5 kilograms of tomatoes, I ended up with about 400 mils of dried extract.
Life is a barrel of fun when you have lots of tomatoes. Some people like chasing balls – I like stirring tomatoes.
This time, I started with 5.3 kgs of tomatoes. I decided to make tomato paste.
- Cut your tomatoes in half and put them into a big pot.
- For every 2 kilograms of tomatoes, add 30 grams of salt.
- Mash the tomatoes a bit to create some juice so they won’t stick. Bring them to the boil and then simmer for one hour.
- Put the tomato pulp through a mouli to remove the skin and seeds.
- Put the resultant pulp back into the pot, bring to the boil and gently simmer until the pulp is the consistency you desire.
All up, I cooked the pulp for about 8 hours (including the initial hour). I had the gas very low – maybe, I could have had it higher. Every time I walked past the pot, I gave it a stir. I stirred constantly for the last 30-45 minutes.
If I had removed the cores, seeds and juice and drained the cut tomatoes before I put them in the pot, I am sure I would have significantly reduced the cooking time.
From the 5.3 kilograms of tomatoes, I ended up with 1.4 kgs of paste which I bagged into 100g satchels and put in the freezer. I searched the web and all my books for an alternative storage solution but freezing seemed the only option.
Postscript April 2015
I just found a recipe for tomato paste in one of my books. It says to put the paste into sterilised jars and add a teaspoon of lemon juice to each jar. Keep the paste in the fridge or a very cool place and it will last for a least a year. I also saw in another book the suggestion to add some olive oil to the jar to seal the paste. In each case, the paste must be refrigerated after opening.
The first technique was the least labour intensive and the last ended up being the most. But really, none of them was too much effort.
I now have, at least, 5 more kilograms of tomatoes that need my attention. I am going to make paste, again (I am in Perth and don’t have my dehydrator with me). I am going to use the first technique but not dry the pulp. I intend to drain it and, if it is thick enough, I will bag it as is. If it needs to be a bit thicker, I will simmer it for a while to thicken it and then bag and freeze it. I will do a postscript to let you know how I go.
“What next?”, I hear you cry. Maybe some more dried tomatoes, some more oven roasted tomatoes, some tomato sauce, even some tomato jam but no preserved tomatoes or tomato puree this year.
I did make another 6 kilograms of tomatoes into paste. I used the first technique as I indicated. I drained the pulp and then froze it in 100g lots. I also saved the juice. I had about 2 litres. I intend to use it when water is called for in stews and braises. The resultant paste was not as rich as when I cooked it down. I prefer the cooked version.
I again ended up with about 1.4 kilograms of paste even though I started out with more tomatoes. I presume this was because I had to sieve the tomatoes by hand which is less efficient. I didn’t have my electric mouli with me.
Hi Glenda, gosh you do grow lots of tomatoes, lucky you. No wastage in your house. If I ever have a glut of tomatoes I know who’s blog to turn to for reference 🙂
Hi Moya, Absolutely, I think I know every possible way of using them up.
Haven’t tried it with tomatoes yet, I’m so busy with lemons! They’re all so delicate or I’m too bad, I don’t know, haha!
Hi Lily, thanks for visiting.
Our tomatoes never survive the really hot days
Hi Al The trick is water. Ours get 10 minutes twice a day.
Amazing. Waste not. Want not… Lycopene deficiency unlikely in your household or family and friends!
So right Ella.
I have to say Glenda that I think the tomatoes are winning this battle. What a great idea to use some up though.
Oh Diane don’t say that. My niece has just said she will take some to make tomato sauce. All is not lost.
Hope you’ve got lots of tomato based recipes to use it all up by next summer. A glut of tomatoes can be rather overwhelming but it’s wonderful to have a supply of home grown tomato products to use the rest of the year.
I shall bookmark this page in the hope that I have a glut this summer. Perhaps I should just go and check the seedlings.
Hi Anne, I am already overwhelmed with preserved tomatoes, I may as well add tomato paste to the list 🙂 Don’t worry I will give the rest away.
What about some kasundi with the next batch? We love it, and eat lots of it – with curries, as a marinade for meat, as a cooking sauce (thinned with bottled tomatoes), stirred into stews etc, with sour cream as a dip or topping, with cheese …
Hi Jenny, I had never heard of Kasundi. I have now looked it up. Thanks for the suggestion.
Hi Debi, I think you misread: “Remove the skin and any wayward seeds”
Love that phrase – remove the skin in any wayward way! Makes you wonder how many ways are there to remove tomato skin. Whatever the case, that dried pulp is certainly inventive.