Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Taking a pass at passata

Passa-what? As I have learned in the past two days, passata is tomato puree. At least that’s the basic idea. Two things got me to this point: first, my darling husband got us a long-term loan of a pressure canner. Second, yesterday he was standing staring longingly at cases of roma tomatoes at the local restaurant food-supply store asking, “Have you ever made tomato puree, or sauce or something?” Well, not really because I don’t count being labor at a tomato-canning session against my will. Hey, are there that many 15-year-olds who are happy about being drafted into a marathon of tomato juice and steam? But I was game and told him that since we have the pressure canner we can, indeed, make something from those tomatoes.

Yesterday he washed and halved 22 pounds of tomatoes while I did a literature search in my cookbook library. Ah, tomato passata. And in a recipe for pressure canning novices! Put all the tomatoes in my biggest Calphalon pot and cook overnight. Today after cooling I ran them through the food mill attachment on my KitchenAid mixer. Oh, I forgot to mention that, didn’t I? I never would have agreed to do this if I didn’t already know that I have a mechanized food mill – none of that turn, turn, turn business for me.

The milling exercise only tood about an hour, if you don’t count setup and cleanup. And cleanup was a doozy, because there was tomato everywhere. Sort of like that butter-making incident I had a while back.

Right now I am cooking the puree down some more, I’d like it a little thicker. It will simmer very slowly overnight, then tomorrow I shall make my first foray into pressure canning. It’s not a worrisome thing; I use a pressure cooker all of the time. But still when you’re preserving food, you do have to be cautious in order to produce a safe and quality product and so I shall follow instructions carefully.

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