Friday 18 August 2017

The tomato-processing factory

The tomato harvest is in full swing now!

Every day I pick more of them. Today it was this basket of cherry tomatoes - mostly "Losetto", with a few "Sweet Aperitif".

Now, much as we like tomatoes, you can only eat so many of them. They are lovely eaten raw in salads, but you can't really eat tomato salad for three meals a day, so some of this fruit needs to be preserved.

We make a lot of what we call Tomato Sauce, and freeze it for use over the coming months. Actually our sauce is more like Passata, because it is just tomatoes with some onion. We make it plain at this stage and add any required flavourings later, when the sauce is used in cooking. It's more flexible that way.

An indispensable piece of equipment at this time of year is our trusty "Mouli-Legumes" which very efficiently converts the cooked tomato and onion to a smooth pulp and removes the pips and skins.

Our sauce normally gets frozen in these little plastic boxes. They hold about 400ml, which is a convenient size for a 2-person meal, when used as an ingredient.

As I mentioned yesterday, we also usually make some semi-dried tomatoes, using the little cherry-sized fruits. Done this way they don't keep for very long (unless immersed in oil or something), but we never make huge quantities of them and they get used up within a couple of days. We eat them as snacks, often with a drink before dinner.

Today Jane has made a batch of tomato ketchup, which has filled five and a half jars.

The ketchup is made to a recipe from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. It uses a method quite similar to the sauce, but with the addition of sugar, spices and vinegar (the latter for its preservative qualities). It comes out really strong, sweet and tangy. Unfortunately it does need to be kept in the fridge.

OK, so now we just have to decide how to use all these...

And the best thing is, most of the bigger tomatoes are yet to be harvested!


  1. We freeze a similar 'passata' just minus the onions but we haven't reach the stage on our tomato harvest beyond eating them fresh.

  2. We freeze our surplus tomatoes in a similar way Mark. Usually in small plastic boxes ex Chinese Takeaway! Brenda's boxes are not as neatly labelled as yours.
    The tomatoes are great for cooking for the whole of the year. Just as well as sadly my tomatoes are only just starting now. Shame on me.
    Do you always pick the tomatoes with their calyxes? I was trained to do this as on commercial tomatoes it shows freshness.
    Unfortunately the boss does not need so convincing and makes me remove them!

    1. Hi Roger; Yes, I always pick my tomatoes with the calyx on, snapping them at the "elbow". As you say, I think leaving the calyx on allows you to gauge the freshness.


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