So… we grow tomatoes.
If you have ever grown tomatoes you realize that they never seem to cooperate and ripen at the same time! This means you always have a few but never enough to make anything out of.
We figured out a few years ago that you can freeze your tomatoes as you harvest them. We keep bags in the freezer and as the tomatoes ripen we core them and chuck them in a bag.
Last year we made tomato sauce and paste. We had a lot of tomatoes and did not get a chance to process all of them so I figured out the other day that we had at least 10 pounds of tomatoes from last year still kicking around in the freezer. We had frozen them in shopping bags instead of zipper bags like this year so I was apprehensive.
A quick search brought up the page I used last year and off we went. I put the bags in the sink and let them thaw into a mushy mess overnight. We had not cored this batch so I spent a while with my hands and squished the ‘maters up and removed as many of the cores and blemishes as I could.
Next was into a big pot and on the stove to heat up. I find that the more you break down the tomato the easier it is to process in the food mill. We use an OXO Good Grips Mill but I have used the Kitchen Aid Fruit and Vegetable Strainer attachment in the past with great luck. I prefer the manual mill for canning. I feel like I get a better consistency as I do two runs through the mill, once with the medium plate and once with the fine plate. Many years ago I just did the medium and the sauce separated. It hasn’t happened again since I started the second milling.
Once the milling is done, salt and lemon juice get added. See the linked page for details. One note is that we did not do the simmer in olive oil part. The condition of the tomatoes after freezing makes that difficult. The sauce is simmered down a little bit, maybe 25% reduction. Next it is poured into (use a ladle, it is easier and makes less mess) a couple high walled sheet pans. We got these Wilton ones and are really happy with their durability and versatility.
Put the pans in the oven at 350dF and set a timer for an hour. When the timer goes off use a spatula or some other soft implement of stirring and scrape the pan all over. Set a timer for 30 minutes and repeat every 30 minutes until the sauce is thick enough to leave clean pan showing. Consolidate the pans and keep going!
When you are happy with the consistency of your paste pull it out of the oven and pack it up! We use some small 4oz jars with reusable lids. Pack the jar and cover the surface of the paste with olive oil to keep it fresh. This year we made one jar and put the rest into a silicone ice tray with smaller cubes. You can use a normal tray just fine. Freeze the cubes and pop them out and store them in a bag in the freezer. When you need a tablespoon of paste (because that seems to be ALL you ever need out of a can) just chuck a frozen cube in. Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy!
Hope you enjoy! It is rather odd to watch all those tomatoes make this little bit of paste but the flavor is amazing!