Tomato Passata Recipe | How to Make Italian Tomato passata

Tomato passata is like a tomato puree made with very ripe red tomatoes that have been strained from seeds and skins. Stored in glass jars or bottles WITHOUT the addition of preservatives, flavorings, salt or water. Sometimes it comes with some fresh basil leaves but nothing more.

In short, the authentic Italian tomato passata is pure tomato juice with its pulp and nothing else.

Tomato Passata in Italy is a basic preparation used in many recipes. You can find it in many pasta sauces, such as Bolognese sauce, spaghetti alla Marinara or penne alla Vodka.

Many people don’t know that in Italy they pour tomato passata on pizza; afterwards it’s generally seasoned with salt, extra virgin olive oil and oregano or fresh basil. According to the recipe and according to taste.

tomato passata recipe

Traditionally in Italy tomato passata recipe is made right at the end of summer, when there’s a glut of ripe, juicy red tomatoes. Fortunately you can find red ripe tomatoes throughout the year. Just choose the best quality of tomatoes.

Today we’ll try to show you a way to enjoy the taste of ripe tomatoes in every season and we’ll do it making the classic Italian tomato passata recipe.

So now we are going to show you how to make Italian tomato passata recipe and how you should use it.

See also:

How to Make Tomato Sauce with Fresh Tomatoes

Pappa al Pomodoro Recipe | Tuscan Tomato Bread Soup

tomato passata recipe


Tomato Passata Recipe

  • Prep Time: 20 Min
  • Cook Time: 20 Min
  • Yelds: 10

Ingredients

  • 2 Kg (4 lbs 4oz) very ripe red tomatoes (San Marzano or cluster tomato)

Kitchen Tools and Equipment

Tomato passata recipe needs some specific kitchen tools. The first and most important is the tomato strainer machine.

There are several types on the market. Some are manual, others electric. Let’s see some of them:

The one we used is electric and is similar to Weston Deluxe Electric Tomato Strainer, that includes 3 stainless steel screens to process tomatoes. So you can make a tomato passata with different textures.

There is also the manual version to clamp to the table, for small quantities of tomatoes. Designed for manual use with an improved handle, you can replace that with the optional Electric Motor.

tomato passata recipe

For small quantities of tomato, you can also use a simple food mill. We recommend OXO Good Grips Food Mill that includes 3 stainless steel grinding discs for preparing tomato passata of fine, medium and coarse textures.

If you want something more professional, for large quantities of tomatoes, we recommend this Electric Tomato Strainer Machine by Raw Rutes. All stainless steel.

If you have the KitchenAid stand mixer then you can consider buying the Fruit & Vegetable Strainer Attachment, which has a food grinder with fine plate for meats and coarse plate for firm vegetables like tomatoes.

Finally, you’ll need a large pot to cook the tomatoes and a fine mesh strainer. This kitchen tool is really useful for a tomato passata with the consistency you prefer. For example, if the tomatoes are rich in water, the passata comes out too liquid. Then with a fine mesh strainer you can remove excess water. The more water you remove, the more thick and dense the tomato passata becomes. We recommend Cuisinart Set of 3 Fine Mesh Stainless Steel Strainers.

Directions

tomato passata recipe step 1

Step 1) – For this tomato passata recipe we opted for very red and ripe San Marzano tomatoes. Check the tomatoes one by one, removing rotten, stained or bruised ones. Then wash them very well under running water. Finally put them in a bowl and start cutting in half.

tomato passata recipe step 2

Step 2) – With a knife, remove the seeds and all the inner part of the tomato, as to make small tomato boats. This inner part is very watery, therefore it would make the tomato passata too liquid. So itàs better to remove it. Now place the tomatoes in a rather large pot .

tomato passata recipe step 3

Step 3) – Let them cook over low heat, covering the pot with a lid and stirring from time to time, until they are smashed. Do not add water, it is not necessary. The water you see in the picture is that of the tomatoes. Now take a tomato strainer machine and, with a ladle, begin to place the cooked tomatoes in the special slot.

tomato passata recipe step 4

Step 4) – Turn on the tomato strainer and with the help of the stomper apply some pressure on the tomatoes, to make them go down and enter the machine.    As you can see on the left, the skins of the tomatoes and the residual seeds come out, which will be discarded. Instead, lower down, the tomato passata comes out ready to be used. If the passata is still too liquid, pass it through a fine mesh strainer, stirring with a tablespoon, until you get the consistency you want.

tomato passata recipe

Tomato passata is ready! If you prefer you can add some fresh basil leaves.

You can use it immediately in your delicious recipes or keep it stored for when you need it. If you don’t know how to properly preserve the tomato passata, in the next steps we are going to explain the most correct and used method.

How to Store Tomato Passata

how to store tomato passata recipe step 1

Step 1) – Take a rather large pot, fill it with cold water, then put a kitchen towel on the bottom. Get hold of some glass jars with vacuum seal button lids. Immerse them in the cold water. Turn on the heat and bring the water to a boil. This way you’ll sterilize the glass jars.

how to store tomato passata recipe step 2

Step 2) – After about 10 minutes from the boiling, remove them with kitchen tongs (which you left a few minutes immersed in boiling water to sterilize them) and put the jars to cool on a kitchen towel.

how to store tomato passata recipe step 3

Step 3) – Now, with the help of a funnel, start filling the jars with the tomato passata, but not to the brim. For 2 kg/4 lb+4 oz of tomatoes you’ll get from 500 ml to 700 ml of tomato passata, based on its consistency.

The bump in the middle of the cap is a safety. Now if you press it, it sinks in and you feel it click. This means that the jars are not under vacuum, there is still air inside and bacteria could form. 

So to preserve the tomato passata, you can do 3 things:

  1. freeze the jars, taking care not to fill them to the brim, and keep them for up to 3 months.
  2. keep them in the fridge and use the tomato passata within 1 week.
  3. make the vacuum: that is to completely remove the air so that bacteria do not develop. In this way you can keep the jars in the pantry for up to 1 hear.

So now let’s see how to vaccum seal jars.

How to Vaccum Seal Jars

how to store tomato passata recipe step 4

Step 4) – Close the jars then bring a huge pot. At the bottom of the pot, put a clean cloth. Lean the jars on the cloth and try to wrap it around the jars (to not crash the jars during the boiling process).

Fill the pot with water. Make sure to completely cover the jars. Use a lid if necessary. Calculate 40 minutes from the moment of boiling. After this time, turn off the heat and let the jars cool in the water. Remove the jars from the pot ONLY when the water is cool.

Now the metal caps must appear slightly curved inwards and by pressing with your finger you should not hear the “click clack”. The jars are now safe. It’s possible to keep the jars of tomato passata in a cool dry place for one year.

tomato passata recipe

How to Make Passata with Tinned Tomatoes

If you want to make tomato passata for your recipes but you don’t have fresh tomatoes, you can use canned peeled tomatoes.

Our recommendation is that they are of excellent quality, possibly San Marzano quality, without preservatives or additives. So read the label carefully. Then proceed following the recipe from step 4.

If it’s a single can of peeled tomatoes, better to use a food mill.

What do you use Passata for?

There are many Italian recipes that require the use of the tomato passata recipe. You can use it on pizza which you then season to taste. You can make soups, such as tomato soup. Or you can just add it in many pasta sauces, such as amatriciana sauce, penne alla Vodka or bolognese sauce.

tomato passata recipe

Best Tomato Variety for Passata

In order to make a delicious tomato passata recipe it would be better using “San Marzano” tomatoes. If you can’t find them, you can use other type of tomatoes, such as cherry tomatoes, pizzutello, datterino or cluster tomatoes, as long as they are ripe red. If tomatoes are not ripe enough, let them ripen in the sun a couple of afternoons.

READ: Tomato Passata, Tomato Sauce and Tomato Puree. Do you really know the difference?

Curiosity

Passata is an Italian word that comes from the Italian verb passare,in English go through. This is because the tomato passata is obtained through a mechanical process whereby tomatoes go through the blades and the holes of the machine used to make passata.

25 thoughts on “Tomato Passata Recipe | How to Make Italian Tomato passata”

  1. If you are putting it in sterilized jars, then boiling the jars until the contents are sufficiently hot to be rendered sterile, why would you not just bring the sieved mixture in the pan gently to a boil and jar it with screw sealed lids like you would jam?
    A lot less fuss!

    Reply
    • The jars will have germ on, sterilising them is the only way to make sure your passata stays fresh, that goes with anything you wish to keep in a jar for a long time. An easy way to sterilise a jar is to put it in a hot oven for 20 mins. Make sure the jars are safe to do this, ie made for the job

      Reply
    • That is not a safe way to process jam, either! When making jam you need to sterilize the jars before filling with the hot jam and then still process them in a water bath for 10-15 minutes depending on the recipe. The only difference I see in this recipe and the standard for safe jam processing is the type of jar lid used. (New button-topped one-piece lids are a completely valid option, although less common and pricier than two-part flat lids and collars)

      More of a concern is that not all tomatoes have the correct ph for safe water bath processing, and it is very difficult to test for in a home setting. This can be offset by the introduction of citric acid, bottled lemon juice, or vinegar, but that would impact the flavor.

      Freezing or fridge-storing for shorter periods may be the best options if you want to avoid adding acid to the passatta.

      Reply
  2. The jars are no longer sterile if removed as shown, with one blade inside and one outside. Better to have a pair of tongs that has a wide enough spread to grab on both sides of the jar.

    Reply
  3. I quarter the tomatoes, taking out most of the seeds to dry and keep for the following year… I grow Pera D’Abruzzo tomatoes in my garden here in the UK to use, cook as above but I also add a fresh basil leaf to the jar before pouring on the hot tomato passata then sterilising in a hot water bath.
    I also use a hand mill which, by the end of the day has given you a good workout!

    Reply
  4. I’m afraid of doing the boiling of tomatoes in glass jar, they may explode or crack. Haven’t done it before, just wanted to be safe in the kitchen. Thanks for sharing your tips here. Appreciate it!

    Reply
    • Generally the pH of the tomato is between 3.9 to 4.6. If the tomatoes are not very acidic, you can add lemon juice (two tea spoons for one liter) or citric acid. This will only decrease the pasteurization time, not replacing it.

      Reply
    • Thank you for the detailed info. I’ve always wanted to know how a true Italian cook went about separating the tomatoes from the seeds and skin and all of the water! I don’t can, I freeze vegetables, but I can’t wait to try your method for preserving tomatoes this summer! Thanks again!

      Reply
  5. I use 1/4 teaspoon of ascorbic acid per pint (1/2 teaspoon per quart). This will not affect taste but will keep pH at low enough level.

    Reply
  6. Great recipe! Just wondering if there are any tips for what to do with the discarded tomato? Obviously, we can compost, but wondering if there are any useful cooking tips for stocks etc.

    Reply
    • Hi Metthew,
      Thanks for you comment.
      Tomato passata waste is made up of skin and seeds. With tomato skin you can make a powder that will flavor or decorate your dishes. Due to the presence of the seeds I do not believe that the result can be satisfactory. In any case you can use a vegetable dryer machine or place the tomato skins in a lined baking tray and let them dry at 100°C for about 2 hours until they are completely dehydrated. Then grind the tomato leaves and reduce them to a powder.

      Reply
  7. I have all that I need to get started on this recipe. I have just one question, if I may? When you put the tomatoes in the saucepan on a low heat on the stove, do they need any additional liquid in the pan or will they create their own juices?

    Many thanks in advance

    Reply
    • Hi Jules!
      Don’t worry, if they are really ripe they will create a lot of juice.
      Any doubt, you can always add half a cup of water at the beginning of cooking…
      Cheers! 🙂

      Reply
  8. I’m sure that the Passata recipe is just fine ( though if I have a Victorio food strainer, I’d skip your first 3 steps, run the tomatoes thru the strainer and let it do it’s job and then just low heat cook down the remainder to desired consistency) but the preservation technique that you are describing is vague at best and potentially dangerous if people do it wrong. If I understand correctly, you’re talking about a hot water bath for preservation:

    – Get hold of some glass jars with caps. These need to be canning jars (Mason in the US) with unused caps … preferably with a separate ring to secure them – otherwise they stand the chance of shattering during processing and making a mess.
    – Do NOT boil the new caps / lids! This will serve to soften them enough that they may not take a seal when you actually need to use them. Heating them a bit is all good and fine but a boil will cause you problems.
    – Please don’t cool the jars after boiling – leave them in the hot water until you need to use them. This way, you’re putting like temperatures together and minimizing the chance of cracking the jars when you’d add hot tomato liquid to a cold jar
    – For canning, size does matter – both headspace (next comment) and processing times depend on whether you are using pint / quart / larger jars. 40 Minutes might be fine for one but overkill (thus effecting the flavor) or underkill (resulting in lids that pop up rather than stay down due to infection) for another container.
    – Headspace – critical for canning … in this application I’d probably be going with 1/2 inch from liquid to rim but it is also totally dependent on jar size.
    – Please suggest to your readers that they just go out and spend a little money on a jar lifter. That way, they can take the jars out of the hot water bath while hot (after boil), put them on a towel and then watch / listen for the signature “ping” when the lids go from flat to concave and show that a good seal has been achieved. If a lid doesn’t seal, just use the product like a normal bit of sauce … it’s not worth getting sick if it doesn’t.

    Passata is great and a totally flexible base – well worth making

    Reply
  9. Hi Barbara, love the recipe, I was just wondering if this passata would suit a pizza sauce (Garlic, sugar, olive oil, salt, black pepper and chopped basil added). This sauce recipe tastes great with shop-bought passata but i would love to make it all from scratch!

    Thanks,

    Nigel

    Reply
    • Hi Nigel! Tomato passata is a basic recipe suitable for any type of pizza sauce, so I would say it is perfect for your recipe. Thanks for your comment! It reminded me to make a recipe in the near future: how to make homemade pizza dough!
      Cheers 😀

      Reply
  10. Although I used to watch mum make this Passata it was a very long time ago and would like to thank you for reminding of how it’s made great memories.
    And now I’m back home in Italy i think it’s about time I had a go in making it.
    Thank you ounce again.

    Mario.

    Reply

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