No good Italian can live without tomatoes, and plenty of it. So the annual Passata day always takes effect when tomatoes are in abundance, ripe, sweet and fresh. Making about 60 kilograms of Passata every year for our own needs, and some as gifts, has been a family tradition for many decades. It helps to be on a good footing with the local green grocer who is only too pleased to discount the tomatoes that would be considered over ripe in New Zealand, but just right in Italy.
Wash and roughly cut up the tomatoes, and at the same time remove the odd bad or discolored spots. Now boil the tomatoes, without water, for about five to ten minutes, depending on the ripeness, until soft, but not cooked.
Passata making can be a huge job without the magical Passata Machine – a device that separates the skin and seeds from the flesh. This little machine can do in excess of 100 kilograms per hour and is wonderfully designed, easy to operate, durable and very quick to clean. No self respecting Italian household is without one! Within minutes I had processed 30 kilograms of tomatoes into 28.5 kilograms of Passata leaving 1.5 kilograms of seeds and skins to compost, or dry to plant next year.
Bottle the tomatoes in clean canning bottles – do not use the cheap screw on type of bottles, but a good strong bottle with lid that can seal properly. There is no need to sterilise the clean bottles before hand, as it is going to happen after filling them. Put the filled and sealed bottles in a large enough pot that would totally cover the bottles when filled with water. It is good to have a tea towel or some screen in the bottom of the pot, so that the bottles do not stand directly on the heated surface. Now fill the pot with water of about the same temperature as the product is at this stage (prevent bottles from cracking). Heat until the water is boiling and then boil for twenty minutes more. Immediately remove the bottles from the boiling water, if the water starts to cool, water may be sucked into the product.
Cool and label. PRONTO !!
While washing the tomatoes, select the ripest and firmest tomatoes for Bruschetta with tomato, basil, olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic. Mrs BYF cannot be beaten for making the best Bruschetta! ENJOY!