Tomato passata – tomato sauce

If you are a regular tomato sauce buyer, this will change your life!

I started making  my own passata a few years ago, when I bought my juicer. I don’t really like passata sauces that contains the skin and seeds of the tomatoes, and making it at home without a good juicer was a real deal breaker for me. However, as soon as bought my slow juicer and tried making it, it completely changed my (cooking) life. Even though I always bought very high quality tomato passata, there is nothing like locally sourced, organic tomato sauce.

How to choose tomatoes for passata

Where I live I have a huge variety of tomatoes to choose from, however I prefer San Marzano.  You can easily recognize them, they’re elongated and some times they have a small nib on the bottom. Below you can see the difference between oxheart, San Marzano and other tomatoes.

San Marzano usually makes the best passata, but every super ripe tomato will do. Now it’s the time of the year in Italy, where you can see huge trucks along the highway carrying tomatoes to the factories where they will be turned into all sorts of passata and canned tomato goods.

I’m very lucky, where I live there are several farmers who grows chemical free crops of all sorts, and also, since rain is rarely seen in summer, all the farmers, or at least many, have to grow their crop with less water, and this makes the best ever tomatoes. Usually what you buy in the stores, are tomatoes that are pushed to grow with hormones, very very very rich in water and low in fibers and that are mainly harvested when not fully matured. This results in a very insipid water container, dressed like a tomato. I cannot even remember when was the last time I ate store bought tomatoes.

These tomatoes makes a very rich and creamy passata, full of nutrients and with so little water that I always have to add some to pass them through the juicer!!

Tips and tricks to reducing time and efforts

If you have decided to make your own passata, and like me you work all day and have not that much time to dedicate to canning, here are a few tips that will make it easier:

  1. Make in batches
    you’ll find in Italy people that will buy 150kg of tomatoes and make passata for one or two days in a row, this is really not what I’m up to. To save time I usually make my passata in batches, 5 to 10kg at a time. I’ve calculated that I need around 50 bottles a year so I dived the effort in a few days from July to September.
    This way you won’t be spending hours juicing the tomatoes and in less than 1,5h you’ll be done.
  2. Sterilize the bottles or jars in advance
    if you have all you need already cleaned and prepped, then you’ll need significantly less time to make the passata, I usually sterilize the bottles in the dish washer with the specific program or in the oven, 15/20 at at time, then I closed them tightly as soon as they’re done and keep them aside in a clean place or covered.
  3. Prepare all tools and spaces 
    I have a very very small kitchen, so managing the space I use is key, before starting I sterilize all surfaces, the counter, the sink the tap, then I keep all the pots and pans I need ready on the stove and I’m prepared for a big mess. Yes it will be messy!! but very fun too 🙂 I prepare the space where I’ll put my bottles to cool down so I don’t have to worry.

These three steps save me a lot of time every time.

Preparing tomato sauce or passata: Juicer or blender?

Some people uses the blender instead of the juicer and while that’s a good way to speed up the process (especially if you do not have a juicer) this won’t result in the same taste and consistency. The first thing you’ll see is the color, blending your tomatoes won’t yield the same bright red color in the finished product. For around 20$ you can buy a tomato mill, that is traditionally used to make the passata (if you don’t mind the seeds and skins).

When using a juicer you only need to be sure you have a filter with large holes. Using the finer one will result it a lot of waste and a liquid consistency in the passata. The only downside of using a juicer is that you’ll have to clean the filter one or two times while juicing the tomatoes, this happens because the skin and seeds clog the holes in the filter and makes it more difficult to juice the tomatoes. This takes a few minutes but to me it’s worth the extra 5 minutes.


Now that we’re done preparing, knowing discovering and learning, we can start working!

How to prepare a tomato passata – tomato sauce

10kg of tomatoes (every type you like, I also love cherry tomatoes and I make a few bottles a year)
1 tbs salt
2 6lt pots


Step 1
After years of trials I discovered that cutting the tomatoes first, helps reducing how many times you’ll filter will clog, so first thing first wash thoroughly and then cut the tomatoes in big chunks (if you use small tomatoes like cherry, cut in half).

Step 2
Juice the tomato with the juicer or the tomato mills and fill in the pots as you go.  Fill the pots up to 80%, to avoid overflowing. If you have found tomatoes like mine, that are very plump and with a lot of flesh, use some water to help the juicer in juicing the pulp.
Mine was so thick the spatula would stand in the middle on her own!    

Step 3
Put the salt into the pot along with the tomatoes and let it cook for around 40 minutes on low, stirring occasionally. At first  a lot of foam will form on the surface, mix it and continue cooking until it settles. You’ll know it’s done when you see it has reduced an and the foam is almost gone too, you’ll notices some “concentrated” tomato on the site of the pot. If you want a very thick and dense passata let it cook more, up to 70min.

Step 4
Now it’s time to bottle all the passata, prepare the sterilized jar or bottles, keep a clean cloth handy where you can put the lids while filling the jars, or keep the lids into a bowl with hot water.
Fill the bottles or jar, seal them tightly with the lid then put it upside down to cool completely. This is a quick way to seal the bottles, the hot temperature will eliminate the excess air.

Now you’ve got your passata! this will keep for a very long time in a cool dry place, as long as the lid is closed and no air will come inside. Once opened it keeps in the fridge for up to 10 days (but don’t usually last that long..).

You can use it to make my classic lasagna recipe, or for every dish that requires tomato puree, like a simple tomato sauce or pizza or I use it often in my Indian cooking as well.

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