Thursday, August 26, 2010

Tomato puree

Before I start giving any 'advice' on what I do or how I do it, please let me say:

I am no Ree (though, in my daydreams, she tells me what a good little cook I am and how proud she is of me). My pictures are, in comparison to hers, terrible--but I have a point-and-shoot as compared to her Nikon, and I don't know much about photography (though I badly want to learn--yeah, in my spare time....). So I figure I'm slightly off the hook in the photo department! I did the best I could with what I have and what I know. And I'm pretty sure you'll get the gist. *grin*

These are my methods, from trial and error over the last few years. I am certain they can probably be improved on, so please, if you have some tips, share them in the comments! I know that I would appreciate that.

But try to be gentle with criticizing or you might make me cry. And then I may never do another post like this again.

And that would make me sad.

So, let's jump right in, shall we?

My garden has provided me with a wonderful crop of tomatoes this year, and we're not done! Did you know that in many places, tomatoes will continue to bloom and grow until the first frost? We have at least another month here before that happens, so I am hoping to get a few more batches in before all is said and done!

The pictures below are from my fourth batch of sauce that I just did two days ago. Here we go!

Get'cha a big ol' pile of tomatoes.

For beginners that do not have any 'equipment', you will need to set up a large pot with boiling water and another bowl filled with ice water. Place your tomatoes, a few at a time, in the boiling water for about 30-60 seconds, then place immediately in the ice water for just as long. Pull them out of the ice water, and slip the skin right off. Now, cut the core out of your tomatoes, quarter them, and put them in a large stock pot on the stove to begin cooking down. You will need to puree them (either with a food processor or a blender) in small batches and then strain out the seeds to get your puree.

Now, my method varies completely because of the equipment I have.

I wash my tomatoes, and then halve them....

....and then quarter all of them. I don't worry about removing stems or anything!

Here is why I can do that, and why my sauce making process is so easy: I have a wonderful invention (new to me this year and it was worth every dime I spent on it) called a food mill.

If you don't have one of these, you can obviously still make sauce, but it will just take you longer. This beautiful creation does most of the work of this process for me (like creating the peach puree I needed for my spiced peach butter!) and requires very little effort on my part.
I dump a big bowl of quartered tomatoes in....
....and start cranking.
It does it's magic, and within seconds, tomato puree begins dripping out.
A little at first....

....and then lots and lots!

It was at this point during my *cranking* that I noticed a hummingbird invading my herb garden, right outside of my sliding glass door--about five feet from where I was standing.
He struck a great pose and insisted on a picture. I obliged.
Where were we?

Oh, yes. The tomatoey goodness coming out of the food mill.

What's great is that all of the junk that you don't want in your sauce--your skin and your seeds--comes right out of the side, right into a handy-dandy garbage bowl!

Oooh, a red-throated one.
He's a brave little sucker. I'm pretty close.

*Must. Focus.*

The bowl of red deliciousness fills up, and then I transfer it.... a mac daddy stockpot. Mine is 18 quarts.
Make sure you use stainless steel and not aluminum to avoid a bad reaction.

Hey cool! Now there is a yellow finch on the feeder too!


I continue transferring the sauce from my bowl to the pot, little.... little...

....and by the time I am done with my pile o' tomatoes, this is usually what I end up with!
A whole pot full!

Tomorrow {hopefully} we'll take this puree and make some sauce!!

Let the tomato preparation tip sharing begin....