Tomato passata or tomato puree?

As it’s core, it might be easy to think of tomato passata as just a tomato puree that you can use on your favorite preparations. However, there’s more to the true passata di pomodoro made right at home. On this blog you will discover the main differences of each one while uncovering some tips and hints to make it perfect: To get started, it’s important for you to understand the few characteristics that define tomato passata and set it apart from the basic tomato puree:
  • Passata with seeds? At first, tomato passata is strained through a sieve either electric or a manual Mouli. You do this in order to remove the seeds from the puree and pulp; and of course, this extra step isn’t always there when you’re making a tomato puree.
  • Passata is strained, raw tomato blend: Another differential point is that passata is NEVER cooked, but always bottled or used in its uncooked raw form. Tomato puree, on the other hand, is often cooked before canning/bottling to reduce its water content and sweeten the tomatoes.
  • Intensity of the taste: many people prefer to use passata over regular tomato puree since the authentic taste of tomatoes is much more prevalent in the passata.
  • Ready to use: you do not need to puree passata or alter it in any way! It’s ready to use right out of the jar, and once you try using it rather than canned tomato puree, you will never go back due to its natural and delicious taste.
Yes, we know that both products are very similar, but these items are essential to understand their difference. The practice is on-going, specially in Australia, where many Italian families gather around in the kitchens and garages to produce large amounts of that delicious tomato puree for the next year. In just a day or two, they’ll process enough tomatoes for a full year of fresh passata. And now that we’re talking about the family tradition, everyone has a role in the process; and “Tomato Day” has become a very special date and a social event, where family, friends and even neighbors, come together to work as a team to keep the tradition going. Well, we can’t blame them! That incredible taste of fresh, summer tomatoes available year-round can’t be beaten by anything. But now that we’re all-hands-on-deck in the process of making tomato passata, what exactly is this delicious sauce used for? The answer is up to you, cause passata can be used in pretty much any recipe that requires tomatoes. From soups and stews to sauces, the traditional passata di pomodoro will give you the full flavor of fresh tomatoes in any dish. As we have discussed it before, passata making is more than just a process and has become a long-standing family tradition in Italy (specially in Southern Italy, where tomatoes grow in abundance). And if this is your first time making passata (the Italian way) or tomato puree, these is some of the equipment that you need: EQUIPMENT: TAB TIP: The key to preserve your tomato passata is to ensure that the sauce bottles are clean and sterilized before beginning the process. In case you’re re-using your bottles from last year, make sure that you wash and sterilize them the weekend prior to sauce day. And now, let’s start this process following each and every step:
  • Fill large buckets halfway with water and add as many tomatoes to each bucket as possible. Using a paring knife, take each tomato out of the water, wipe the tomatoes then remove the center core and any bad bits of the tomatoes you can see. Then set cleaned tomatoes aside in washed crates ready for the next step.
  • Fill the large aluminum pot half full with water and heat over the gas till boiling. In batches, blanch the tomatoes till softened, and the skins start to peel slightly. Scoop them out with the strainer and place them on the cheesecloth.
  • Twist the cheesecloth gently to drain off any excess water from the tomatoes (you want to ensure that you are only removing water and not tomato juice) and then transfer the tomatoes to a large bucket ready for the tomato press (or Mouli).
  • At this stage, it is important to start working in batches. Place a large sterilized bucket under the spout of your tomato press where the juice will extract and another small bucket under spout where the skins will extract, and gently guide the blanched tomatoes through the press. After the first pass of a batch of tomatoes, take the skins and seeds and pass them back through the tomato press another 3 times. The skins are really what provides the flavor and the thickness to the sauce.
  • Each time the skins are passed through, it becomes harder for the machine to process them. You will need to press down on the skins to guide them, but ensure you listen to the sounds of your machine and ease off if it sounds under strain.
  • Season the passata to taste with salt, and stir in with a large spoon.
And after following all of these steps, you’re ready for the bottling stage:
  • Push a large basil leaf (or two smaller leaves) in the spout of each clean bottle and fill with the prepared passata using a funnel.
  • Ensure you leave a gap of a couple of centimeters at the top and then seal each bottle using a capping machine if using beer bottles or by hand.
And right before the end of this process, it’s important to ensure and guarantee the sauce’s preservation. You can do this by boiling the bottles:
  • Prepare the bottles for boiling, placing the drum over the gas hub.
  • Put a thick towel in the base of your drum and start layering the bottles in, ensuring that you use old rags (or newspaper) between the bottles so that when they are boiling, they don’t hit each other and shatter.
  • Continue to build up the bottles in the drum until you are out of space, or out of bottles.
  • Fill the drum with cold water and slowly bring it to a boil over the gas burner. Boil for 30 minutes and then turn off the gas and allow the drum to cool overnight (the bottles and water will take a long time to cool enough for them to be removed from the drum without burning you).
  • Remove the bottles gently and then store in a cool, dry and dark place until you are ready to use them.
Now, you’re all set up to make your own tomato sauce. But don’t go anywhere! We still have another form of preparing your tomato passata, like the Authentic Italian Tomato Sauce recipe. Are you ready for it? INSTRUCTIONS:
  • Rip the pedicels off, washing the tomatoes very well and leaving them to dry.
  • Cut each tomato into two halves and remove the green part, also known as the pith.
  • Squeeze the two halves of the tomato in a bowl or in a sink, to get rid of all the seeds.
  • Once you’ve repeated this process with all the tomato halves, put them in a steel pot, and cook the tomatoes on a stove’s hotplate, on low heat, turning them occasionally with a spoon, until dry and disintegrated.
  • Now pass the tomatoes through a food mill. Once all tomatoes have been passed, transfer the resulting sauce in a smaller steel pot while you will again put on the hotplate.
TAB TIP: If the tomatoes you are using are not particularly tasty, you can ass a fried onion or garlic to the sauce, making it even more delicious. And now, you’re all set to enjoy a delicious and traditional Italian Passata on your favorite preparations. Perhaps, a delicious pasta? Pizza? Tomato soup? The chances are endless and the flavor too. Discover all of the equipment to make it here: Click here If you make this recipe don't forget to tag us on our socials @artisans.bottega. Let us know what you think of it! We love getting in touch with our TAB family!

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