Roasted Tomato Passata

Oh summer-- your bounty of tomatoes has required an exhausting amount of energy from my past week, which I've considered an investment to warm me in the darkest, dreary winter days ahead. The air turned cooler this week, a welcome break after a heat wave with multiple days over 100 farenheit, and suddenly it felt a bit like fall.

Back in 2011, I wrote about my first round of canning tomato passata from the River Cottage Preserves Handbook. That time, due to what we had on hand, the batch included onions instead of shallots and dried herbs instead of fresh. 

The recipe can be found on page 165 in the American edition of the book, but in summary:

Tomatoes (so many)
Shallots (peeling FOREVER)
Basil (fresh, from our garden)

After roasting everything together until soft, I passed all of it through the food mill. Because of my limited availability after work (my new commute is 3 hours round trip per day), I spread the roasting and milling out over 3 days and froze the purée during the meantime. I couldn't just keep it in the freezer because 

1) tiny freezer, duh
2) I have to justify my massive mason jar collection 

I added all the frozen sauce into a stockpot (technically, two, since I was short on space in just one) and brought it back up to a constant simmer/boil for a while before canning. 

Knowing I'd need a LOT of jars and that it would add time and work to boil them all, I made a leap of faith and tested the mini/portable dishwasher for the first time. After living here 2.5 years without every trying it, I have to say that I was very pleased! The heated dry cycle keeps the jars nice and warm while I waited between batches. 

In the end, I landed with 27 full pints and a refrigerator-worthy half pints. For dinner tonight we had grilled cheese dunked in that half pint of remaining passata-- which Steve declared was delicious. Success!

My coworker/friend shared his bounty of mom-grown tomatoes, for which I am very, very grateful. He surprised me with FORTY SIX POUNDS! I plan to share two jars with him-- one for himself and one for his mom, and I hope they enjoy them.  

Note: this project required peeling approximately 6 pounds of shallots. It was by far the worst aspect, and in the future I'll attempt blanching them first to remove skins. It was such a pain in the fingers/fingernails. 


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