from one generation to the next
Passata is essentially tomato purée. It’s cheap and readily available, but sadly the commercial product is often made with under ripe, acidic fruit. Home made passata made with sweet red juicy ripe tomatoes fits into a totally different flavour spectrum. It’s often so sweet, it needs to be salted to make it savoury.
At this time of the year, large multi generational Italian families gather together in backyards across Melbourne to make passata, to preserve enough tomatoes for the whole year.
When boxes of ripe Roma tomatoes are sold for a song, they boil them to a pulp, strain away the seeds and skins with the help of a mouli, decant the purée in recycled beer bottles, add a sprig of fresh basil, place crown seals on the top and then boil the bottles, thus creating a seal. The opening scenes of the 1999 movie “Looking for Alibrandi” depicts this scene in all its glory.
Sadly I’m not privileged to have a large extended Italian family, but that doesn’t stop me making passata to add to pasta sauce, braises and to top pizzas. My needs are fairly modest and I’m fortunate fresh tasty Aussie tomatoes are available all year round, so I freeze my homemade passata in small batches.
1 kg very ripe sweet tomatoes
8 cloves young purple garlic
Bring the tomatoes and garlic to the boil, reduce the heat, then simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the tomatoes are reduced to a pulp.
Strain the tomatoes to remove the skins and seeds. Use the back on a soup spoon to push all the pulp through the strainer.
Return the purée to the heat and simmer until the desired thickness. Season the taste with salt and pepper.
The passata is now ready for use.