In previous posts about growing tomatoes, I promised that I'd try and get around to showing you what we do with our bumper crop. As you know, I plant around 30 tomato plants. At this stage, in Canberra, the tomato season is done and done. The last of our crop was pretty much knocked over by the frost a couple of weeks ago. These photos were taken early April, which was probably the last of our tomato processing for the 2011-2012 cycle. I received this tomato processor for my April birthday (perhaps around 2007?) and it was purchased at Butts n Brew in Kaleen. They have great supplies for anyone interested in home preserving, making beer or killing yourself slowly with butts (not recommended ... far better to stick with the organic tomatoes!).
Anyway, to show you what we do many times during the summer cropping season -
First, we put the tomatoes in a big pan and heat them to just below boiling. We grew a lot of cherry tomatoes this year (more by accident than design).
We attach the Italian tomato processor to the kitchen table with some bits of wood to protect the table because it does require that the device is clamped to the table. We then set up a large bowl below the device to collect the tomato puree.
The warmed and softened tomatoes are put in the top part of processor, in the big stainless steel bowl.
Tim then turns the handle which drives a big screw inside the device. This manages to separate the peels and seeds from the lovely tomato puree.
So tomato seeds and tomato peel are pushed out into a waste bowl. Note the steam rising from the black bowl holding the puree.
Here's the top of the processor, where the whole softened tomatoes sit. You can just get a glimpse of the screw (looks yellowish)
Tim uses a large spoon to push the tomatoes through the hole, as he turns the handle.
Seen below is one of the reasons we like cherry tomatoes. They fit very nicely down the hole and are easily squashed by the screw. Larger tomatoes sometimes need to be cut to encourage them to squeeze through the hole.
As the tomato is pushed through by the screw, there is a fine metal mesh that allows the puree and the juice to pass through but doesn't allow the seeds or skins to pass through.
When the tomato puree is all collected, we then put it back on the stove and boil it for some unspecified but 'just feels right' amount of time. This helps concentrate the puree. We don't bother putting any spices or flavourings in and we don't bother about boiling it down to a thick consistency. We just take off some of the excess moisture to concentrate the tomato puree into a 'passata like' consistency.
Seen in the cupboard is the last of our unfilled vacolas (8 of them). This processing we did in early April pretty much filled these bottles so that was enough for us this year. I didn't count but it was about the same as last year. If you don't already do this, and you'd like to try...it really is simple and rewarding.