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.
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.
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.
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Tomato Passata Recipe
- Prep Time: 20 Min
- Cook Time: 20 Min
- Yelds: 10
- 2 Kg (4 lbs 4 oz) 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.
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.
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.
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 .
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.
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 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
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.
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.
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:
- freeze the jars, taking care not to fill them to the brim, and keep them for up to 3 months.
- keep them in the fridge and use the tomato passata within 1 week.
- 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
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.
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.
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.
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.