Now that tomatoes are breathing their last, just before they disappear from grocery benches, farmers markets and vegetable gardens, we prepare homemade tomato puree, for our winter stews and red sauces.
The process is simple:
Thoroughly wash the tomatoes.To peel them easily, start by scoring with a knife a cross on the base of the fruit, the opposite side of the stem.
Fill a large bowl with boiling water and sink them in for just one minute. Sink them in iced water and immediately remove.
Now you can peel them easily with a knife starting to pull the skin from the cross and removing each quarter of the skin all the way to the stem point.
If you want your tomatoes unpeeled proceed to the next step.
Cut them in four and remove any visible green or white part.
Boil them for 10 -15 minutes adding a teaspoon of salt for each kilo of tomatoes.
How many kilos will you need? As a rule of thumb, a family needs no more than 4 kilos, to get through to early winter. After that, you can either forget about tomatoes or buy canned or jarred ones , preferably selecting those with a low water / tomato ratio from certified organic producers or directly from farmers. It may be a bit more expensive but it is worth the extra cost that guarantee more taste and purer ingredients.
When tomatoes have cooked and cooled completely you can start filling your glass jars with the tomato sauce leaving about 1cm head space.
Cover the surface with olive oil and store in the fridge or freezer. It lasts about a week in the fridge (after that the paste turns a bit sour) and up to one or two months in the freezer.
By then you’re probably not in the mood for tomatoes , it seems our body during winter doesn’t need it nor craves it. (Having said that, in recent years , I was surprised to learn from the Athens Agricultural University professor Dr. Dimitrios Bilalis) tomato demand drops slightly after the Summer months to an all time peak during the Christmas season! Greek salads for the holiday buffet? Seriously?)
Another way to preserve tomatoes is to simply puree them in the blender, separate them in portions by placing them in plastic bags and freeze them, raw without boiling them at all.
Homemade tomato puree can make all the difference in some dishes and, with the addition of some tomato paste, makes your cooking simply delicious adding a note of freshness.
Preferably choose ripe organic tomatoes and refrain from adding condiments, except for salt. Just remember when using it that your paste is already salted!