Monday, September 19, 2011

T is for Tomato

And for Tired, unfortunately.

This is what 100 pounds of tomatoes look like (two boxes of 50lbs each)

And many, many hours later this is what 32 quarts and a pint of tomatoes look like.

I did buy a fabulous machine this year which in Italy is called a "passa tutto"  (pass everything).  It uses a hand cranked "worm drive" to drive raw chunks of tomato through a sieve, spitting out watery sauce and pulp at one end and seeds and skins at another.   It save a huge amount of time skinning and seeding the tomatoes, but I generally use a lot more chunky tomatoes than sauce.  You also have to spend some time cooking down the sauce to a reasonable consistency.  I cheated and left it overnight over a tiny simmer flame, although you could also do it in a crockpot with the lid off (I had two crockpots worth of raw juice, so it was too much work to try to stagger it/ transfer the sauce etc.)

Fortunately the pain will fade, and I'll be able to enjoy lots of spaghetti, chili and other tomato-rich dishes all winter.


  1. All right, I have to ask: where did you get the bulk plum tomatoes? Those look pretty good.

    I also use one of those hand-crank tomato presses. You can get coarser screens for chunkier tomatoes, but then it will let through more seeds. How much that matters, I suppose, depends on what you're going to do with it.

  2. Canning secret - tomato seeds are good! They provide umami to your tomato sauces. I only cook with canned whole tomatoes these days.
    Anyway, congrats on getting the canning done. I had to pass on that this year due to other pressing projects.

  3. Wilson Farms has/ had them $35 bucks a box. I actually did all this the weekend before last, am just getting caught up, so I don't know if they still have them. I was planning on doing a box two weekends ago and then another box last weekend, but the guy who was helping me wrestle it up into my cart said that that was probably the last weekend they would have bulk ones, so I should go big.

  4. @ anon It's not the seeds, it's all the liquid that surrounds them. I've found that when pressure canning tomatoes without being diligent about removing the seeds and "guts" I end up with a jar with 1/2 solids floating above 1/2 liquid.
    I could hot pack, which would cook down the liquid, but I'd still have to skin the buggers.

  5. Boy, that brings back memories. We made and canned tomatoe sauce a few times not too long after we were married. Back then, we just ran them through a blender and then strained out the seeds. Quite a pain, but worth it in the long run.

    It was a fun project, but we never did it again after that first year. Good job!

  6. Couldn't find a picture on the a passa tutto the same as a food mill? If so they're great and should automatically come with a couple cases of tomatoes.

  7. GRJ- It's sometimes called a food mill, but it's different from the kind of foodmill I used growing up to help my mom make applesauce.
    A picture here:

    The problem I think with the kind that looks like a colander is that you'd never get raw tomatoes though it. so that's one more step to deal with.
    I think this kind will also do apples, but I'm not sure if you have to cook them first or not.

  8. That thing looks great for doing smooth sauces and you're right, a food mill requires a lot of sieve cleaning and the right consistency.
    Since I'm lazy I throw whole tomatoes in a hot oven, blister up, cook down then can. Which reminds me...