I love home-grown tomatoes. Trouble is, they tend to come in gluts, especially with the amount I grow. Freezing was the obvious answer – concentrating the tomatoes into a paste so they take up as little room as possible.
I leave the skins on, which wouldn’t please Italian purists, but I like it. Only use the pinch of sugar if your tomatoes are tasteless. Feel free to leave the odori out if you can’t be bothered – the paste will be an ingredient in something else anyway.
BASIC TOMATO PASTE TO FREEZE
- Odori: one onion, carrot, stick of celery, finely chopped; bunch flat-leaved parsley, chopped; 1-3 cloves garlic, according to taste
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3lb ripe tomatoes, washed
- Salt, pepper and sugar (optional), to taste
In a wide, shallow non-stick stockpot, fry the odori in the oil over a medium heat until soft.
Add small tomatoes whole or roughly chop large fruits, removing any hard core.
Allow the whole fruits to pop their skins and cook down a little on a medium heat, then with a potato masher, gently squash the fruit to extract their juice.
(Don’t go mad, or you’ll get it in your eye. It stings, I know.)
Season with salt and pepper. If your tomatoes are very acidic or (heaven forbid) the tasteless supermarket variety, a large pinch of sugar will balance acidity or boost flavour.
Leave to reduce on a very low heat with the pan lid off for a couple of hours – or longer, stirring occasionally, until as thick as chutney.
Pack into freezer bags (to save space), cool completely, label and freeze.
A box the size of a Chinese takeaway carton will serve a family as a sauce base for pasta – remember, it’s very concentrated.