19 August 2017

Tomato processing

The tomatoes are starting to come in fast and I realise that I have never written up my current method for turning them into sauce for the winter. So this post is to remedy that situation. I've simplified the process as much as I can, but it does rely on a couple of pieces of equipment: a food mill and a pressure cooker.

First of all, the tomatoes are cut in half, placed on a baking sheet with a lip and roasted at 180°C/350°F for an hour to an hour and a half (less if they are small, but most of mine are big). You can add seasoning, garlic and herbs to the cut tomatoes, but I tend to leave them basically quite plain and add flavourings to the sauce when I use it later. This burns off a lot of the water in the tomatoes and you can do a lot at one time. At the height of the season I cook three baking sheets at once.

After they have been roasting for the hour, remove them from the oven. There will be a lot of water in the sheet.

 Use a slotted spoon to lift the tomatoes out of the sheet and into a food mill sitting over a large jug. Use the mill to process the tomatoes. The skin and seeds will be left in the mill, with all the pulp being pushed through into the jug.

If you're happy with the consistency of the sauce, you can proceed to the canning stage. If not, you can boil the  sauce down a bit in a saucepan until it's thick enough.

I've never found it necessary to add lemon juice to the sauce, but if you prefer to do so, add it now. Pour the sauce into sterilised glass jars and cover with lids and rings. Put jars into a pressure canner and process for 30 minutes.