Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Tomato time

What with the grotty weather we had this Summer, tomatoes never got really cheap. But lately the price has come down enough for me to buy a couple of kilo so I can make tomato sauce (p234) and tomato puree (p233). I had originally planned to do only the sauce, but I figured I might as well get both out of the way at once.

The full tomato sauce recipe uses 3.5kg of tomatoes, along with 1kg of apples and 6 onions. I don't know about you, but I don't have a pot big enough for all that, so I went with a 1/3 recipe. Even then, I had to use my stock pot.

I chopped up the tomatoes, apples and onions, and put them in the pot with sugar, malt vinegar, cayenne pepper, and whole cloves, peppercorns and allspice tied up in a piece of muslin. I was surprised that there was no instruction to blanch and skin the tomatoes, or peel the apples. It meant less work, though, so I wasn't upset about it!

The sauce had to boil for a couple of hours, so while that was bubbling away, I prepared bottles and jars, then got on with the puree.

This time I did have to blanch and skin the tomatoes, before placing them in a pan with a little salt - no liquid. At first it looked like the tomatoes were just going to scorch, but before long, a surprising amount of liquid had seeped out of the tomatoes.

I cooked the tomatoes until they were pulpy, then took them off the heat and pressed the pulp through a sieve. This process was a bit of a faff, but it didn't take as long as I expected. After about ten minutes I had a pot of thin tomatoey liquid, which went back on the stove for another 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, I decided the sauce had boiled long enough, and began scooping it into a colander and pressing it through. The sieve was also an option in this recipe, but having just used it on the puree, I decided the colander would be easier, and would result in a thicker texture.

The colander picked up all the tomato skins and a few of the firmer bits of onion, leaving a thick brown sauce that I poured back into the pot to boil for a couple more minutes before I poured it into my collection of prepared bottles.

The puree had not noticeably reduced down, but I decided to continue with the recipe anyway, pouring the puree into a couple of jars, sealing the lids tight and processing them in a waterbath.

I'm not at all confident with the use of a waterbath. I'd only attempted it once previous to tonight, at which time I made a total hash of it. I scanned through the waterbath instructions in the preserving chapter, and got on with it. The puree had only filled up two jars, which I placed in a saucepan filled with water. The instructions said the water should cover the jars, but it was too shallow for the taller jar, so I tipped it over and hoped the water wouldn't leak in.

After 15 minutes in the boiling waterbath, I took the jars out. I don't really know how to tell if I've been successful, but they seem to have sealed, which is a good start. Of course, now I'll have to find a use for two jars of watery tomato puree..

As for the sauce: it seemed to be a good consistency, but I'll have to wait a week or two and see how the flavour develops. At present, it's a bit vinegary. I'll let you know how it tastes a few weeks down the track - but for now, I have a tomato-splattered kitchen to clean and a pile of sticky dishes to wash!


  1. Why didn't you put in the amounts to use of vinegar, spices etc?

  2. This blog was created to relate my experiences in trying the recipes, not to publish the recipes themselves.

    Aside from the obvious copyright infringements, I reasoned that since practically every household in NZ has an Edmonds book, there was no point typing out recipes everyone already has access to. What I didn't anticipate was the number of Edmondsless expats from all over the world who would come across my blog during their searches for Edmonds recipes. Unfortunately, this blog is not the place to find that information, but good luck finding it elsewhere :)


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