After onions, garlic and lemons, tomatoes are the most used ingredient in my larder. Since said usage is often in ragus, curry sauces and soups, it begs the question - why have I never made my own passata? Perhaps because I presumed it would involve an expensive blender, sackloads of tomatoes and lots of tedious chopping.
But the clue is in the nature of the thick red nectar- passata is simply sieved tomatoes. Happy to bypass borrowing a blender, I set about making my own, my only reservation being the fact it's nigh on impossible to perfectly wash a sieve.
Cost of 500g carton shop-bought passata:
Cost of 1kg tomatoes and half a bulb of garlic to make 800ml homemade passata:
The recipe I used:
Sara Buenfeld's tomato passata
Sadly I didn't have access to a rustic bounty harvested by my own fair hand so had to hit the local greengrocers for a bag of beef tomatoes. These are the cheapest around, and they offer a price advantage over ready-made passata. When poured out next to each other, the homemade passata was around one and a half times the quantity of the carton. You could even go more high end with your choice of tomato and still make a saving.
This recipe is pretty much foolproof - quarter your tomatoes, halve your garlic and throw into a pan with olive oil. You don't even need a spoon as sporadic shakes are all that's required. The cooking process is complete in 15 mere minutes, at which point you cool the mix.
Plunge your hot pan into a sink of cold water to speed up the cooling process.
The sieving part was pretty fun - I gave up after about three minutes and yielded a decent amount of passata, but the more economical may wish to persevere for longer.
The homemade passata was remarkably lighter and thinner than the shop-bought. The shop-bought was really concentrated and almost bitter - like a cross between tomato soup and purée. It was also a pure and unadorned tomato hit - the garlic in the homemade version was a pretty heavy aftertaste but the overall finish was fresh and the sugar was a great addition.
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If you want a thick, intense sauce, shop-bought will deliver, but homemade is lighter and more flavoursome - it was so good I'd drink it as a gazpacho. However, the garlic flavour was strong so I'd recommend adjusting the recipe if that's not your thing.
For me, the best approach would be to make a passata batch while cooking the dish you're putting it in. An extra half an hour won't make much of a difference when you're having a kitchen session, and you should have a batch leftover for next time when you need a speedy meal.
Have you made your own? Let us know if you think it beats shop-bought…