Tomato concentrate or purée, delicious used in pasta sauce to enrich it and a spoonful in soups and stews adds a little something special. I know it´s not very expensive to buy, but if you are dealing with a glut of tomatoes and have time on your hands, why not give this a go?
I have to say from the outset, you do need to set aside about 6 hours to make just a few jars. It´s not tricky, but you need to be around to watch the pot slowly simmering away all the water from the tomatoes and leaving you with a gorgeous, thick, sweet and intense paste.
Start by either peeling, deseeding and blending your tomatoes, or (as I do), roughly chopping and then simmering whole tomatoes for about an hour before passing them through the vegetable mouli. Incidentally, this is another method for making preserved tomatoes. After you have “mouli-ed” them, you can put them into sterilised jars and tuck them away for a rainy day if you don´t want to go on and make concentrate. Using the second method you may have a few stray tomato seeds in your purée, but hey, it´s homeamde!
Next you need to add about a teaspoon of salt to approx 4 kilos of tomatoes (this gave me three small-ish jars of concentrate) and put them into a wide, heavy based saucepan. You can use a narrower pot, but it seems to take longer as I find the water evaporates more quickly from a wide pot.
Now keep them at a gentle simmer, you will need to keep them cooking for about 5 hours. Slowly, slowly, the magic will happen. Every so often you need to give them a stir with a wooden spoon to make sure they don´t catch on the bottom.
Finally, your patience will be rewarded, and just when you thought you might as well give up and turn it into pasta sauce, you have a pot of sweetly fragrant tomato concentrate. Now you can put the hot purée into hot sterilised jars and seal. No need for a hot bath for the jars afterwards, unless it makes you feel “safer”. I also add a thin film of olive oil, so that when I do break open the jar and start to use it, the concentrate or purée underneath will not dry out.
Delicious, rich…what other words haven´t I used? Oh yes, you´ll also feel supremely smug when you tell people you have made it yourself!